Monday, April 28, 2008

HELP to setup Patient Information Centers in Hospitals in India

Objective:

· To set up a Multimedia Patient Education Resource Center in the hospital to attract more patients; improve patient care, and enhance patient satisfaction.

Background of HELP:

· The Patient Education Resource Center of HELP is located on DN Road in Mumbai. The centre hosts a large number of visitors daily. It is a great way to experience the power of ‘Information Therapy ’ first hand. The numerous success stories of patients who are empowered by the information provided here has prompted HELP to set up more centres all over India.

· HELP is a one of the world’s largest patient education and information centres. It has been recognized by the Limca Book of Records. Established in 1997, HELP has over 10000 books and 500 videos. It set up India’s first health website www.healthlibrary.com. It is a self-sufficient, registered charitable trust and a non-profit organization.


Current Market Status:

· The market scenario with regards to patient education is not very organized at present. The increasing instances of violence in hospitals, litigation, etc. are an ample testimony to the fact. A well-informed patient is a happier patient because he has realistic expectations. Moreover with the increasing level of awareness, people nowadays prefer doctors/hospitals who keep them informed and updated about their medical condition, prognosis and the course of treatment. The days when the doctor’s words were unquestionable are over.

· The commonest complaints patients have about medical care in hospitals are:

    1. Being made to wait
    2. Not being told about how the patient is progressing
    3. Poor doctor-patient communication


· Slowly, but surely, hospitals are realizing the fact that educated and informed patients are happier patients. Further, partnering with a patient’s family to provide information is a vital ‘differentiating’ factor for a hospital.

HELP value proposition:

  • HELP sets up a branded information centre in the hospital. This centre is instrumental in increased patient satisfaction as it provides vital information to the patient and his family. For example, a son can learn about his hospitalized father’s hepatic failure in the information centre.
  • The centre also draws in people from the neighborhood. People living in the close vicinity of the hospital enhance their knowledge about the chronic conditions being faced by themselves or their family members. For example, A type II diabetes patient can frequent the centre and subsequently can become a patient in case he needs hospitalization.
  • The information centre also solicits questions from the users. These questions are then e-mailed to the main HELP hub in Mumbai. The answers to these questions are sent within 48 hours of receiving them. Moreover, the website the hospital also carries a link where people can post queries and the answers are given on the behalf of the hospital within 48 hours.
  • Patient education has been shown to improve doctor-patient communication; save the doctor’s time; improve patient satisfaction; and improve patient compliance and treatment outcomes. Information Therapy can be a powerful medicine.
  • Each inpatient gets at least about 5-15 visitors daily. In one sense, this is a captive audience who is very likely to be responsive to healthcare marketing, because they have come to visit someone who is ill, and therefore have a heightened sense of their own biological frailty. Visitors can spend time at the patient education library , which is likely to induce them to select your hospital whenever they need medical care. This free service will also help to create a lot of goodwill for the hospital; improve brand visibility; and provide a unique selling proposition.

Execution Plan:

  1. A Patient Information Centre site is recognized at your hospital.

  1. This site is ‘branded’ and done up by you based on the recommendation of HELP. The required amenities like book shelves, computer, etc. are installed.

  1. Patient educational material is provided by HELP

  1. Your staff members are trained by HELP to run and manage the Patient Information Centre. All aspects of running the centre are taught to one or two of your staff people.

  1. An additional backup to answer patient’s queries free by email is also set up. Your web site ‘Ask Us’ icon is linked to our main information hub.

  1. Printed information prescription pads to encourage doctors to refer patients to the information centre are provided.

  1. The collection is upgraded every year.

Responsibility Matrix:

  1. HELP provides the books (100 titles ) and DVDs (50 titles) to start the core collection.

  1. You provide space ( about 500 – 1000 square feet in a high traffic area) and infrastructure ( racks for the books; signage; DVD player with TV; Xerox machine; internet computers) ; and staff. Branding material is provided by HELP, which is installed by you to do up the information centre.

  1. HELP trains your staff members (free 3-day training at HELP) so they can manage the show effectively.

  1. HELP provides strategic guidance as to how you can maximize the utilization of the library – for example, by developing your own patient educational materials; having talks and seminars by your doctors.

  1. HELP answers questions free by email, through your website , if your patients have further queries

Implementation Time line:

1. Identifying and Purchasing books – 1 month

2. Supplying books – 1 month

3. Training your staff members – 3 days

4. Inauguration of fully furnished library – 3 months

Action Points:

1. Visit HELP so you can see the valuable services a Patient Education Resource Center can provide

2. Sign MOU

3. Identify space and set up infrastructure

4. Depute staff member for training at HELP

5. Include the Ask HELP service in your website

6. Set up a Department of Patient Education in the hospital.

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