Between painful abdominal spasms, Jayshree Salunke, a 62-year-old woman, consults a doctor online as her son props up the phone to get a better view of where she’s pointing. “The pain usually begins here and worsens if I move around. Since it usually subsides after medication, I’ve never felt the need to get it checked by a doctor. But today is different – the pain is terrible and it has never lasted this long,” she says. 

Prompted by the pandemic, many people like Jayshree are getting comfortable with digital healthcare technologies to better manage and track their health. Enabled by the wide array of services offered by companies like Practo, people today have access to verified doctors – anytime, anywhere. And as the breadth of digital offerings in primary healthcare continue to expand, new possibilities for secondary healthcare are also opening up, as Jayshree soon discovers.

Effortless admission & discharge process via Practo Care Surgeries

Rather than an innocuous stomach ache, her condition turned out to be appendicitis that needed to be urgently treated. Now, even if secondary healthcare procedures like these can be easily taken care of if detected on time, it involves a series of steps – from diagnosis to post-recovery treatment – all of which are presently uncoordinated.

What is more, despite the availability of skilled and experienced surgeons, patients may still face challenges in finding the most suitable doctor for their specific ailment, and thereafter, plan their surgery at a center equipped with the latest infrastructure and all necessary facilities. It also rests on the assumption that patients have all the support they need to not only make the right decision at all touchpoints, but also access quality services easily.

Practo Care Surgeries (PCS) was launched last year to plug these critical gaps in secondary care.

“The prospect of undergoing surgery is never good news, but I was pleasantly surprised by the help I received under Practo Care Surgeries,” begins Jayshree, adding, “Right from an effortless admission and discharge process, to ensuring that my son and I were continually involved throughout the treatment process, it was reassuring and comforting to be taken care of so well!”

 

Personal Care Assistants delivering an integrated healthcare experience

Under PCS, patients are provided a high-quality, hassle-free experience with end-to-end care and personalized support before and after a surgical procedure, all while taking utmost care in safeguarding their privacy

This comprehensive support to patients is enabled with the help of Personal Care Assistants who are assigned to each PCS patient. By being the single point of contact for the patient, these Assistants deftly and seamlessly coordinate all aspects of a surgery with all its stakeholders – including physicians, surgeons and insurance companies – to deliver a truly integrated healthcare experience.

“I was quite skeptical in the beginning,” says Hemkant Tripathi, a 33-year-old Technical Director at a visual arts venture in Delhi, adding, “After the initial doctor consultation and a few quick follow-ups thereafter, I was told that I will get all the support I needed to get my pilonidal sinus procedure done from a good hospital, under the care of an experienced surgeon and the guidance of a care coordinator who will help me with admission and insurance-related paperwork, be available to address all my doubts and assist me in timely discharge. It seemed like a tall promise, and if I hadn’t experienced all of this first-hand, I would have had trouble believing it!”

For many like Hemkant, being able to understand the full arc of the treatment process is important. And with the support of his Personal Care Assistant, he was able to get all his doubts addressed with clear and nuanced information.

“The best aspect of this experience has been the support I got from the PCS Assistant who was assigned to me,” he says, adding, “From ensuring I was picked up from home and later dropped off from the hospital on time, to patiently addressing all my concerns, it was simply incredible. In fact, despite coming down with COVID-19, he was fully committed and did not leave any stone unturned to ensure that I had a hassle-free experience.”

 

Making secondary healthcare better & more affordable

India’s secondary healthcare delivery system is deeply fragmented, and oftentimes, crucial surgeries may be deferred by patients not only due to lack of information, but also the high costs involved and the cumbersome process in claiming insurance. In such a scenario, having the support of someone who can not only negotiate lower prices, but also provide easy access to loans and help with insurance paperwork is hard to pass up.

“Even with health insurance, hospitalization and medical treatments have become quite expensive,” says Satish Sharma (name changed), a software engineer based in Pune, adding, “I had consulted multiple doctors seeking a more affordable alternative for hernia, but surgery was the only option. That’s when I heard of Practo Care Surgeries.”

Not only was Satish provided with a flexible EMI plan that would enable him to pay it off without it becoming a strain on his finances, he also got adequate help from the PCS team to get the most out of his modest health insurance coverage.

“There was some confusion around my health insurance plan and my claim was almost denied, but the PCS team intervened and a portion of my bill was covered under that,” says Satish, adding, “The team was extremely helpful. Getting that additional help to understand my medical bill better is something I’ve not encountered anywhere else.”

Making healthcare not only patient-centric, but also doctor-focused

Quality healthcare service is a combination of innovation, expertise, and seamless execution, and calls for a fundamental departure from the past when healthcare was driven by siloed efforts within a fragmented system. With PCS, we will continue to hasten this transformation and explore the opportunities it opens up not only for patients, but also for doctors, hospitals and clinics that make up the PCS ecosystem.

In fact, one of the primary objectives of PCS was to help doctors provide a superior surgery care experience at specialized centers backed by safe equipment and high-tech infrastructure. By taking the responsibility of handling important aspects of surgery – including updating patients’ families of their condition, assisting in OT booking, facilitating healthcare financing and loans for patients if required, scheduling follow-up appointments, and more – we are enabling doctors to completely focus on what they do best – nurse patients back to health.

 

Thus, PCS goes one step further in making healthcare offering not only patient-centric, but also doctor-focused, giving rise to a new system in which caregivers work together in an integrated manner towards a common goal: improve patient care. The ground has shifted in secondary healthcare, presenting us with an opportunity to not only strengthen current capabilities in this sector, but also improve patient care in the process.

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