“Our medical team enables hundreds of doctors across the country to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of patients at a time. And here’s how they do it!”
There is a reason why the process of becoming a doctor is long and arduous. It is not just about contributing countless hours studying and practising to achieve perfection. Rather, it is about meticulously preparing oneself to shoulder a massive responsibility- of saving lives. This sense of purpose under the blanket oath of ‘first, do no harm’ defines the medical profession and has guided countless doctors to put their patients first.
While this intent of doing no harm and keeping patients at the forefront is an ideal for the healthcare industry, the sector, however, has often grappled with the challenges of implementing truly patient-centric processes. From the first touch-point (OPD) until after their treatment (including IPD), patients have had to navigate through the multilayered processes that have rendered access to healthcare tedious, expensive, and complicated.
Fragmented approach towards healthcare delivery, lack of standardisation to limited accessibility, are some of the issues ailing India’s healthcare industry. After almost three decades of working in this sector, I have come to recognise that to remedy these inefficiencies, the healthcare industry requires to undergo a much-needed shift– one that is focused on making healthcare more efficient, integrated, and value-based. And, this shift is being driven by the advent of digital healthcare.
Here’s a brief glimpse of the challenges experienced by the healthcare sector and their solutions:
As fundamental as these challenges may seem, overcoming them ensures delivery of quality healthcare that is aligned with the larger philosophy of putting patients first. Practo in the last 14 years of its operation, has constantly evolved and adapted to implement practices that resonate with this idea– of helping people live healthier and longer lives. And in doing so, the processes built are patient-focused instead of being facility-focused.
Echoing this sentiment and to address these challenges, Practo’s surgery vertical called Practo Care Surgeries was launched in September 2021. Its goal was and continues to be to solve the fragmentation of the healthcare ecosystem in India by providing a one-stop solution for the patient’s secondary care needs while also improving accessibility to quality healthcare.
I resonate with this vision and goal that Practo has for the healthcare industry. And as a proud part of this purpose-driven organisation, I wanted to pen down some exhaustive measures we take to make our vision a reality.
Why Practo Does What It Does
Be it doctor consultations, diagnostics, treatment (surgical or otherwise), and post-treatment care, patients backed by the support of Practo’s team have total transparency. But while it has been fascinating to witness patients being empowered to actively participate in the process of choosing the medical services that they need, it is also important to recognise how it has benefited all other stakeholders along the way.
Afterall, PCS is Practo’s endeavour to work in partnership with doctors and hospitals to provide patients with quality, hassle-free and affordable secondary care (OPD & IPD services) at specialised centres in India using the latest technology.
On one hand, PCS helps doctors get the advantage of the latest equipment, safe high-tech infrastructure and improved time management, and on the other it enables patients to gain access to high-quality care with personalised support before and after a surgical procedure, delivering a better experience and superior value along the way. Designed to benefit both doctors as well as patients, this patient-centric and doctor-focused approach aligns with Practo’s efforts to combine technology with healthcare to provide access to high-quality and cost-effective medical services across geographies.
Offering assistance in 50+ ailments across General surgery, Protology, Ophthalmology, Gynaecology, Urology and Cosmetics, which includes a full range of pre- and post-surgery services across each of these procedures, including assistance with investigations, health insurance claims, hospital admission paperwork, free post-surgery consultation, home delivery of medicines, and more, Practo aims to provide a 360° outlook to healthcare delivery.
And all this is made possible due to a robust medical team led by top doctors of the country and a fleet of highly motivated and passionate care buddies and care counsellors. Together, they help Practo serve patients in the best possible way, each case at a time.
What Makes Practo Different
Doctors are an integral part of the company’s growth story as they drive every decision and strategy drawn up, keeping patients in mind and the country’s medical community at heart.
Because, when it comes to healthcare, nothing can be left unmonitored. From healthcare centre infrastructure, standard operating procedures, training, and overall quality of care, an independent Medical Team oversees and reviews all operations at Practo. Not aligned with any business outcomes, with a sole focus on quality healthcare delivery, this team comprises 40+ doctors with a total of 100+ years of experience spanning hospital administration, radiology, anesthesiology etc. And, they are led by Ex-NABH and QCI Officials to ensure utmost quality.
At any given point, Practo’s medical team’s unbiased decisions are not overridden or trivialised by business teams, because our ultimate goal is synonymous with quality delivery of healthcare- something that the medical team proudly leads and implements.
This team ensures that:
- Patients at any point are not coerced into undergoing surgical procedures unnecessarily and without their full consent
- A robust system of protocols and procedures to be followed by both hospital and doctor partners.
- The Director of Medical Quality & Safety has designed and implemented a medical quality framework and clinical pathways for various surgical procedures that all partner clinics and hospitals ought to abide by.
- To ensure a micro-level adherence to these standards, City Medical Superintendents with over 20 years of experience, coordinate all operations of the medical staff (medical officers). They ensure compliance with all applicable regulatory and accreditation standards. In other words, without their verification, no patient undergoes any procedure, treatment or medication via Practo.
Doctors and Surgeon Partners
Doctors form a vital part of all of Practo’s operations. Owing to this, the medical team, including city medical superintendents, take stringent efforts to onboard highly qualified and experienced doctors on our platform. This involves credentialing doctors by their qualifications and ensuring that they carry an adequate experience in the procedures the patients seek.
Additionally, this team ensures that PCS partners with doctors and surgeons with at least 8+ years of experience to ensure patients have access to the best possible care. These doctors and surgeons decide what’s best for their patients based on their medical expertise.
“I have been with Practo Care Surgeries (PCS) since October 2021, and in all this time I have received exemplary support from its team, especially the Care Counsellors (CC) who are responsible for counselling patients and connecting them with doctors from the concerned specialty. Unlike how businesses run on quantitative targets, in my experience with Practo, I’ve noticed a qualitative approach whereby the CCs only guide patients to get quality care, enabling the doctors to be the real decision makers and make the final call of surgery or treatment with medication,” says Dr. Basant Kumar Dalmia, a General Surgeon with over 30 years of experience.
“In healthcare, integrity and ethics form the milestone of all operations. Although seldom highlighted, it is this quality that separates a business from a healthcare company and Practo has been able to maintain itself as the latter. And this has overtime concretised my association with Practo,” he adds.
Care Counsellors & Buddies
Navigating through the complexities of secondary care is not easy for any patient. While lack of awareness could be a part of the problem, to expect a patient to run from pillar to post to find the most suitable doctor for their specific ailment, plan their surgery at a centre equipped with the latest infrastructure and in their budget, all while assuming pre and post-surgical support, is rather unfair.
Much like many private hospitals, we have a team of Care Counsellors and Care Buddies providing end-to-end assistance to patients to eliminate this stressful situation for patients.
While Care Counsellors remotely guide patients at the initial stage of planning the surgery, Care Buddies provide on-ground assistance. Both ensure a high-quality, hassle-free experience with end-to-end care and personalised support before and after a surgical procedure.
Trained by experts from the healthcare industry, including doctors from Practo’s medical team, these teams play a pivotal role in quality healthcare delivery. On average, every counsellor goes through at least 20 hours of training to ensure that the care provided keeps the patient at the forefront.
All of this is monitored and led by the Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer (CHSO) and the Medical Director, both who are doctors with over two decades of experience in healthcare.
Strict Compliance & Escalation Processes Ensure Superior Impact
The medical team, to ensure every process is followed to the ‘T’, constantly engages with the doctors for their feedback and reviewing compliance and escalations. Here’s a part of a detailed escalation matrix in place to keep a vigil on the processes under PCS.
Implementing these processes for the last 11 months of PCS’ existence, we have provided quality secondary care to thousands of people.
And while we are proud of that accomplishment, we are also aware of the challenges we continue to strive to overcome. We endeavour to make the entire experience seamless for patients through operations like cab service, insurance, discharge delays, immediate reimbursements, etc.
After all, decisions about right and wrong permeate through everything we do at Practo. In developing PCS, it was of utmost importance to uphold our reputation for sound professional principles that align with our company’s core values. Gleaned from a decade’s worth of learnings, this entails a strong commitment and adherence to certain moral and ethical principles.
At the core of Practo’s existence lies a sense of purpose– to help make quality healthcare affordable and accessible for over a billion+ Indians. And this goal is guided by a robust code of ethics, similar to the oath that has bound me as a doctor for over 35 years— to put the patient first, no matter what.
Vital part of how we want to achieve our vision, this code of ethics serves as a compass for us to make the best choice in any situation that benefits patients, doctors, and the healthcare sector at large. Our code of ethics is not just another document but a part of our day-to-day operations and intrinsic to every member of Practo, including the medical team and doctor partners.
As a doctor, my work was always focused on making efforts that create a real difference in patients’ lives. The same can be said about our medical team who enable hundreds of doctors across the country to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of patients at a time. And I am proud of that!
About: Dr Alexander Kuruvilla is the Chief Healthcare Strategy Officer at Practo. With over 28+ years of experience working with top corporate hospitals across the country, he brings with him deep domain expertise and insights that has helped Practo scale its medical teams and operations over the last 6 years.
He has masterfully donned many hats –as Asst Medical Superintendent at St Martha’s Bangalore to being CEO/Medical Director at Narayana Hrudayalaya, Apollo Ahmedabad and SIMS Vadapalani Chennai. He has also been a Founder-Partner and Trustee at Yeshaswini Karnataka State Health Insurance, Medica Synergie Pvt Ltd Kolkata and MGM Corporate Hospital among others.
Additionally, he has also played a major role in planning and building 10 corporate (350+ bed) hospitals while spearheading the establishment of multiple telemedicine and tele-ICU centres in India. His contributions towards planning, commissioning and administering hospitals across India has helped bring about large-scale transformations in the way healthcare is delivered and accessed in India.