Thursday, December 01, 2016

Improving healthcare by using the human capital in our medical colleges

Indian doctors have a great reputation globally for being excellent clinicians, and the government teaching hospitals do a great job at providing cost-effective medical care to poor patients . They take pride in the fact that they don't turn any patient away, no matter how poor he is. They make excellent use of their resources, and  treat patients at a tenth of the cost which a private hospital levies.

However, one of the things which they are not making the best use of is their human capital. These teaching hospitals have medical colleges, which means they have teaching staff; medical professors; lecturers ; as well as medical students. We are not utilising their skills optimally, and this is a shame.

Why aren't these medical professors creating MOOCS ( massive online learning courses ) to teach doctors all over the country? They are all experts in their own field, but why are they restricting their teaching only to the medical students within the four wall of their campus? Why can't they reach out to all medical doctors all over the country? Not only would this be great for medical students from other medical colleges, it will be very helpful for practicing doctors as well, because then they would have access to authentic information which is relevant to Indian conditions. This would be provided by a local authority , and in a local language, which means it would have a much greater impact.

These hospitals should be using digital technology to amplify their outreach activity. This will allow them to improve their efficiency and effectiveness , so they can do far more than what they've been able to do in the past.

The students areall digital natives - and there are so many opportunities waiting to be explored ! We need to make better use of the young blood in our medical colleges, and allow them to use their brains to think out of the box.

These hospitals could become world leaders  in creating models on how cost-effective medical care could be provided frugally to the poor. At present, the medical skills , experience and expertise of their doctors is not being utilized adequately.

We can learn to use telehealth, and just like the IITs and IIMs have become world leaders by applying entrepreneurship to the IT field, why shouldn't these teaching hospitals also aspire to become thought leaders in health care?

Sadly, rather than stimulating them with exciting challenges, all we end up doing is getting them to cram tons of stuff , and then exporting our brightest and best doctors to the West. Why not create opportunities for them within India itself which will allow them to improve the health of millions of Indians ?  The social impact and personal fulfillment would be so much more ! We already have the people, the skills and the tools - we just need to marry them together.

We're not utilizing our next generation of doctors well at all. This is because no one is really answerable or accountable. The seniors have become so used to doing things in the old-fashioned way , that they are not able to innovate . We need to think out of the box , so that we can create models which are tailored to what the Indian patient needs, rather than blindly imitating what the West does.

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