May 2008

India News

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Customised health cover launched
A new health insurance package, focused on people who prefer a customised solution, was launched recently. The United Health Solution, a joint venture of United Bank of India with Tata AIG Life, is said to be tailored for Indian customers.

Health expenses are a major cause of concern amongst individuals, especially when budget increases for the treatment of diseases like cancer, stroke and coronary bypass surgery, since these treatments come at a high cost. United Health Solution offers reimbursement services. If the sum is not used, customers do not have to pay the premium and they can get back the entire amount they have invested on this solution package.

“We have witnessed a significant growth over the years and United Bank of India (UBI), holds a larger share of the company. We are ready to partner with other commercial banks in the near future,” said Mr Trevor Bull, the company's managing director.

According to Mr. P.K. Gupta, chairman and managing director of UBI, “Our marketing team is already strong enough and our prime motive is to honestly explain the features of this solution and if customers think it to be a positive investment then they would definitely purchase our product.”

Trauma care centre at RML hospital
Speaking at the inaugural function of the Trauma Care Centre Building at the Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in the capital recently, the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss said that even though trauma victims were being treated in this hospital earlier also, the quality of care will now make giant strides because of provision of all the modern facilities and availability of doctors belonging to different specialties round-the-clock.

This Trauma Care Centre is only the third of its kind in Delhi. In terms of equipment, it will have the latest state-of-the-art gadgets for providing world-class services. One of the exceptional components of this Trauma Care Centre is the ICU with most advanced monitoring equipment, which will be available for the care of the critically injured patient.

There has been a long felt need of comprehensive Trauma Centres in Delhi to take care of emergencies arising out of modern day road accidents, the number of which is ever increasing because of the busy and fast paced life of Delhi compounded by the increasing number of vehicles.

Manipal Hospital receives NABH in over 50 specialities
Bangaloreans have yet another reassurance for having access to quality healthcare at their preferred Manipal Hospital. The hospital has been accredited by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH) for the delivery of high quality patient care in more than 50 specialities.

In a NABH accredited hospital, there is strong focus on patient rights and benefits, patient safety, control and prevention of infections in hospitals and practising good patient care protocols like special care for vulnerable groups, critically-ill patients and better and controlled clinical outcome. “Manipal Hospital with its sound, system-based operations and structured process improvement programme, met all the criteria set by NABH,” added Basil. The assessment of a hospital is done against 500 criteria set by it. The NABH standards relate to the local culture and systems, yet at the same time, are benchmarked with the best international standards.

“The whole accreditation process, which had been developed and implemented in house by Manipal Hospital reflects the capability, depth of knowledge, effectiveness and management commitment in driving an effective quality management system. Strong emphasis was laid on strengthening policies, procedures and protocols, reviewing performance through patient satisfaction, conducting audits and training the staff including clinicians, nursing, management and outsourced staff,” added Dr. Murali.

Govt to improve cancer control strategy
The government is working on a comprehensive cancer control strategy that will more than double the number of cancer hospitals in the country, create a national institute for research and set up a fund to assist poor patients.

With more than 800,000 new cases detected and 300,000 deaths every year, cancer has already become one of the 10 leading causes of death in India.

Around 1.5 million patients require facilities for diagnosis, treatment and follow up at a given time, states the health ministry -the nodal ministry for administering and designing all public health programs in the country.

Y.K. Sapru, president of the Cancer Patient Aid Association, is unenthused. “The government is once again missing out on the essentials and unless we attack the essentials, which is affordability and availability of cancer drugs, any programme will not give effective results,” he says. Cancer treatments, coupled with the newer patented drugs, are prohibitively expensive for 98% of the patients, he says. A year's breast cancer treatment, for example, costs INR 5-6 lakh.

India currently has 23 regional cancer care centres and plans are now afoot to add 30 more in the next four years.

MeraMD.com launches revamped doctor & hospital recommendation service

MeraMD.com, an online health portal, focused on providing relevant medical information to users, has relaunched its community driven doctor and hospital recommendation service. This service allows users to recommend a health service provider (doctor, hospital, clinic) to others in the community.

The major changes in new avatar of this service are:

  • Registered Medical service providers are now informed whenever a recommendation is received for them.
  • Negative/Offensive comments are now displayed to medical service providers for their comments, leading to a possibility of 1-to-1 dialogue between the service provider and the user.
  • Users are informed about the action taken on their comments. Comments can be rejected, forwarded to medical service providers or made visible to community at the discretion of meraMD.com

The new version of this service is expected to be more useful to the community. It is still a free service and there is still no registration required to add or view recommendations. Additionally, users can search for doctors, hospitals in their local area based on recommendations from the community. 

More integrated hospitals soon: govt
The federal government of India is planning to construct as many as 8 integrated health facilities across the country in the next few years. They will be modeled after the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at New Delhi.

The project is considered extremely ambitious, even unrealistic, given that even the six announced two years ago are yet to get off the boards. The proposal for setting up AIIMS-like institutions was first made in 2003, but finally given the cabinet nod three years later.

Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur and Rishikesh, all in the more backward pockets were to have such sophisticated hospitals. The idea was to take state-of-the-art healthcare to regions that have failed to make much of a progress since Independence.

Trusts, societies may be kept out of hospital PPPs
The government's proposed scheme to invite private players to run hospitals and schools in partnership with it might not be open to the most preferred business vehicles in these sectors – trusts and societies.

The preferred partner would be a registered company. The essential reason is the scalability of a company, a quality that trusts lack. Greater transparency in reporting financial performance is another reason to prefer companies. While the government is yet to work out the regulatory and legal changes that would have to be made to operationalise its public-private-partnership (PPP) plans for health and education, it contains within it the possibility of India's education system shedding its current hypocrisy that commercial motives play no role in education. The PPP model would work by allowing companies to generate returns, if not directly from the running of the educational institution in question but by utilising some under-utilised asset of the educational institution. 


More hospitals for Kolkata
Dhoot Developers Pvt. Ltd. has tied up with Columbia Asia to set up seven hospitals in the east, three of them in Kolkata.

“Each hospital will have around 200 beds and entail an investment of INR 40 crore. The charges will start from as low as INR 1,200 a day,” said Pawan Dhoot, managing director of the Kolkata-based company.

Columbia Asia specialises in healthcare and has allready set up several speciality hospitals across the continent. It has tied up with DLF for establishing a presence in India, but for its hospital project, it has chosen Dhoot Developers as its partners. The other cities where the hospitals will come up include Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati. “If a patient does not get proper treatment at a particular Columbia Asia hospital, he or she can be easily transferred to any other hospital in the country and, if required, to an overseas facility” Dhoot said.

Report: Manipal hospital most patient-friendly
The country's first customer (patient) satisfaction study of hospitals across the country has revealed that the silicon city's Manipal Super-specialty Hospital is the best. The premier All India Institute of Medical Services ranks fourth in the overall rating. The study was conducted by Voluntary Organisation in the Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE) in collaboration with Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

For instance, the famous Lilavati Hospital of Mumbai, known for treating film stars is at the 15th position. The least recommended was the Apollo Gleneagles.

Unfortunately the study has found that not many hospitals are transparent. A little over 30% feel that the super-specialty hospitals are transparent as far as their financial dealings are concerned. Wockhardt Hospital of Mumbai was found to be transparent as all its patients said they saw the charges displayed clearly. As for the charges for various services, Wockhardt Super-specialty hospital of Bangalore led the way with 91% of its patients reporting that their charges were higher than that of other hospitals.

The AIIMS seems to be the most problem- ridden, as one out of every four reported having faced a problem. The study also focused on other facilities for the disabled, provision for parking and waste disposal systems.

Medical parks across the country – Ramadoss
Medical parks will soon be built across the country for makers of diagnostic equipment to set up plants thereby reducing manufacturing costs and making it easily available, announced Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss recently.

“Diagnostic equipment will be manufactured at these parks all across the country,” Ramadoss said on the sidelines of a CII conference on diabetes and obesity. This will help reduce the cost of diagnostic equipment most of which is presently made abroad, he said. The manufacturers of these products had also given a commitment to ensure prices stayed low, the Minister said.

Speaking on the increasing cost of healthcare, Ramadoss said the country already had among the lowest cost of pharmaceuticals and medical treatment in the world but would like to see it reduced further. “Health insurance which will be addressed in a very big way and is expected to take care of the problems associated with individual health spending,” he said.

Meditec Clinika 2008 1st – 3rd March 2008, Chennai
 Meditec Clinika 2008, one of the largest medical equipment and technology trade fairs in South India was held recently between 1st to 3rd March 2008 at Chennai, and attracted world-class exhibitors and professional visitors under one roof in large numbers.

132 Exhibitors from India, USA, Germany, Taiwan and Pakistan showcased a comprehensive range of world-class products to over 2500 serious business visitors from India, UK, Canada, Malaysia, Taiwan, Srilanka, Nigeria and Pakistan. The profile of the visitors distinguished Meditec Clinika from other medical fairs, comprising of Medical Doctors, Hospital technicians, Managers & HODs, Nursing Homes, Healthcare Services, Medical Professionals, Diagnostic centers, Trade Dealers and distributors, manufacturing executives etc. Doctors, hospital administrators and medical equipment distributors in the country are sure to benefit from the success of this fair, since the entire range of medical equipment, devices and services was on display under one roof. 
 
Meditec Clinika 2009 will once again provide the largest platform for the medical equipment and technology industry, to congregate under one roof. This time however, the scope of Meditec Clinika would be further extended by the inclusion of Bio Meditec 2009 –   an exhibition showcasing the Application of Biotechnology in Healthcare.  This umbrella event would now also draw international decision makers from the key sectors of Medical Biotechnology. Meditec Clinika 2009 is scheduled from 21st to 23rd February 2009 at HITEX Exhibition Center, Hyderabad, India.

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