“We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better”
– Maya Angelou
With the emergence of new technologies, the Indian healthcare industry has been in a state of flux, ever-evolving and rapidly changing. While this has opened up a gamut of opportunities for unique healthcare solutions, achieving and maintaining high standards of quality is critical to providing care that is not only timely, but also effective.
At Practo, we have grown from being a doctor discovery platform to one that offers an array of evidence-based healthcare services. But what has remained constant is the quality of each of these services facilitated with the support of an exceptional team of doctors who work full-time for Practo. These doctors have become an integral part of the company’s growth story as they drive every decision that is made and strategy that is drawn up, keeping patients in mind and the country’s medical community at heart.
“In addition to the doctors we routinely partner with to provide healthcare services to patients, we also have a robust internal medical team of experienced, senior doctors and an independent quality team” says Dr Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer at Practo, adding, “With a keen focus on quality in all aspects of healthcare, these teams are committed to providing the highest quality of medical services by being a constant support to partner doctors who are serving these patients on Practo.”
In a career spanning nearly three decades, he has been instrumental in planning, commissioning, and administering hospitals across India, and has been at the helm of efforts to establish multiple telemedicine and tele-ICU centers in India. Working behind the scenes, he, along with a team of highly-accomplished and widely-recognized doctors, are providing invaluable inputs on new and existing products, practices, and initiatives at Practo, driving key decisions to help deliver the highest quality of patient care, especially during the pandemic, enabling the company to scale its critical services across the country.
Committed to high-quality, patient-centered care
“In everything we do, it is of utmost importance that patient experience is superior,” says Dr Ajay Alexander, who heads teleconsultation, laboratory and pharmacy at Practo as Senior Director. “For this, we first need to verify and establish that doctors who are listed on Practo are genuine, qualified and experienced. It is our core responsibility to do whatever it takes to uphold the highest standards when it comes to this,” he adds.
Practo adheres to a stringent process to onboard doctors onto the platform. This involves a detailed documentation process, followed by several steps to verify the credibility of the listed doctors, including corroborating submitted information against the medical council database.
“After doctors are duly onboarded, we take extreme care to ensure that they are fully-equipped to offer the best possible patient care, especially during online consultations,” says Dr Ajay, whose team conducts regular training for doctors on telemedicine guidelines.
Furthermore, as a company committed to high-quality care, Practo is also working towards democratizing knowledge and making it accessible to all by curating insightful articles by doctors, with an internal medical team authenticating all forms of content for its medical correctness.
Strict SOPs for quality assurance
In addition to using insights from these processes to refine the product roadmap and revamp operational procedures, this team also designs SOPs that outline the process of implementing each service to ensure that they are aligned with the expected quality and compliance standards.
In addition to the strict verification process to onboard doctors on Practo, it also includes developing protocols for labs and pharmacies – efforts that are led by T M Radhika, Associate Director and Head of Quality at Practo – and updating and displaying correct information of approved drugs on the website so that patients are empowered to make the right decision. Procedural checks are also conducted in a timely fashion to check for deviations from the protocol – all with the objective of strengthening the quality of services offered.
Motto to ‘do right by the patients’
With the support of a strong team of experienced medical professionals, Practo has harnessed their collective professional knowledge to meet its vision of building access to quality healthcare. As the company forays into different verticals, the strength and structure of this team continues to evolve with additional responsibilities and expectations taking shape. In fact, with the recently launched secondary care services – Practo Care Surgeries (PCS) – more efforts are being made by the internal medical team to be the bridge between doctors and patients in providing and receiving quality healthcare services.
“We have a strict mechanism in place for all partner clinics and hospitals where these surgical procedures are conducted in order to enforce adherence to EMRs, SOPs and protocols,” says Dr Abhijit Paul, Medical Director at Practo, who carries over 28 years of experience in high volume complex surgical and anaesthesia work, and is also a National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) Assessor and has facilitated institutions through JCI. Responsible for building PCS, his team is working closely with partner clinics and hospitals to facilitate the end-to-end care experience offered to patients under PCS.
This entails engaging in discussions with anaesthesiologists, surgeons, medical superintendents, nurses and other hospital staff on a regular basis to consolidate and articulate the best approach to deliver a superior experience for both doctors as well as patients in secondary care.
“Here, nothing can substitute experience, especially when we are working towards becoming a part of a larger shift in the secondary care space with PCS,” says Dr Abhijit, adding, “This would include challenging old patterns of thinking and untangling complex situations that may arise, collectively taking them to closure and execution.”
Working closely with him is Dr Abel Samuel Raj Asirvatham, who leads the medical quality and safety function for PCS at Practo as Associate Director. With a rich experience of putting in place many NABH policies for the country as its Joint Director, and leading many hospital teams for JCI accreditation across the country, he is designing a medical quality framework and clinical pathways for various surgical procedures that partner clinics and hospitals must adhere to.
“Making healthcare service patient-centered by providing care that responds to individual preferences is not easy. It is a continuous process that involves routinely travelling to partner clinics and hospitals at different cities and diving deep into existing practices there, conducting training programs and making necessary changes whenever required to improve patient care and experience,” he says, adding, “At the same time, we also perform audits across partner hospitals and clinics at appropriate intervals to ensure adherence to these protocols.”
Future roadmap: Creating an integrated healthcare system with focus on quality
As healthcare technology advances and consumer expectations evolve, it has become imperative that we look through several prisms to offer integrated healthcare experiences to both caregivers as well as patients. In the years to come, digitization will inform all clinical pathways aimed at improving quality across services. Adds Dr Abhijit, “As we make a deeper incision into the secondary care space, developing centers of excellence for each surgery by creating a minimum safety framework to carry out all procedures, and incorporating AI and clinical decision support system in diagnosis of ailments will be top priority.”
Only by focusing on providing care that makes a full range of quality health services available to patients where they are, while maximizing the benefit of available resources, can we develop a system that is truly efficient, safe and patient-centered.
In working towards fulfilling this goal, Practo has cultivated an eclectic mix of employees that includes a strong team of medical professionals, subject matter experts and those with specialized skills who collectively help the company remain focused on all domains of healthcare quality. Together, they thrive on versatile ways of working, embracing the power of diverse minds to build access to quality healthcare.