Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Health standards for India

As medical tourism becomes increasingly important for the Indian healthcare industry, patients who come from overseas are going to demand assurance that the quality of the medical care they receive in Indian hospitals and clinics is of a high standard. Unfortunately, Indian healthcare facilities are of very uneven quality - it is nearly impossible for a patient travelling from the US or the UK to India to determine how good ( or bad) the doctor he is going to seek medical treatment from is. Today, most patients go by word of mouth reputation; or select a "corporate hospital" with a brand name.
One simple way to help patients find high quality medical care services in India is to ensure that hospitals adopt internationally recognised standards. However, it is not practical to adopt US standards such as the JCAHO standards, because if we do so, then medical costs would be nearly as high as they are in the USA - and most of it is wasteful expenditure on clerical documentation. It's important for Indian hospitals to create their own standards - and this can be difficult to do, as doctors are very reluctant to "toe the line". The best way is to identify high quality Indian hospitals ( such as Narayan Hrudalay or Sankar Netralaya) and adapt their standards. This would be much more practical and cost-effective. Instead of blindly aping the West, we can create our own standards, as adapted to our needs !

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