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We started NH as a group of doctors with the idea of making high quality healthcare accessible to the masses. In the 19 years since we began this journey, our company has grown into a chain of super-specialty hospitals treating patients from across the world. We have been globally recognized as a disruptive innovator in the field of healthcare for proving a model that combines world-class healthcare delivery with a cost-conscious mindset. We don’t have the luxury to sit still because the world is changing, and we must change to remain relevant in the 21st century. Just like AirBnB built the world’s largest hotel chain without building any rooms, and Uber built the world’s largest transport company without buying any cars,
I believe that the world’s largest healthcare company of the future will not build any beds.
We recognize the power of digitization and its disruptive impact on companies that refused to evolve, and we believe that it will transform every aspect of our business. A few years ago, we took a decision to develop the capability to build software in-house and so we created the NH Software Development Centre. This team is building the next generation of hospital information systems, electronic records, and clinical decision support systems that will help us achieve high quality of clinical outcomes without putting a financial burden on our patients. I would like to highlight some of our ongoing projects:
Online Diabetes Clinic
Digital health may have started in developed economies, but it is desperately required in India which is struggling with the shortage of medical specialists. India is the diabetic capital of the world, with 7.2 million diabetes patients (International Diabetes Federation, 2017), yet it has only around 600 dialectologists to treat them. We believe that online diabetic care is the only way forward because a dialectologist sitting at home in front of a computer can treat 10 times more patients than seeing patients physically in clinic. NH has developed CURA diabetes outpatient application which treated over 34,000 patients in the last two years. Eight months ago, we launched an online diabetes management system that treats more than 2,400 patients online. Our patients were initially reluctant to consult the doctor online, but after they experienced the convenience, very few of them want to visit the hospital for a follow up.
NH-Atma, NH-Medha, and Kaizala
The entire NH network will transition to a home-grown Hospital Information System built by our team over the next couple of years. This software, which we have affectionately named NH-Atma, will be the foundation upon which our digital infrastructure will be developed. NH-Atma is cloud-based, fully scalable, and can integrate with all the existing infrastructure in the hospital. It has taken us 2 years to develop the software, but it is the first and most important step in our digital transformation.
As a low-cost healthcare operator, NH relies on accurate and timely data to help us make important decisions. We have a large team that can analyse this data and help us to identify inefficiencies in the hospital. With developments in AI and predictive analytics, we will soon be able to identify problem areas before they become serious events. Our data analytics product, called NH-Medha, has been a valuable tool in helping hospital administrators cut down costs, and doctors to make better clinical decisions.
Kaizala is an application developed by Microsoft that NH has adopted as an in-house messaging platform. We have developed multiple cards that run on top of Kaizala to help our teams communicate better. Our e-ICU cards have made a huge impact on care management for patients in the ICU. Our doctors can manage an ICU patient’s condition from any part of the world using only their mobile phones. This simple technology has led to better clinical outcomes, shorter patient stays, and lesser medicine consumption in our tech-enabled e-ICU. The digital assets we have invested in, will help us scale our operations to serve millions of patients across the world without building or owning hospital beds in the future.
Making a Shift in our Growth Metrics
Several years ago, I made a statement that NH will build
30,000 beds and become the world’s largest healthcare operator. Now we believe that hospital bed count as a growth indicator is quickly losing its relevance. As our clinical results improve, patients are staying in the hospital for shorter and shorter periods of time. Newer technologies like surgical robotics have converted procedures that used to require overnight admission into day-care procedures. The continuous lowering of Average Length of Stay has reduced our in-patient occupancy numbers and thus we are under less pressure
to keep adding beds. With better systems to enable optimal usage of manpower and equipment, we can serve more patients with the same infrastructure. NH Average Length of Stay has decreased from 4.3 days in FY 2015-16 to 3.9 in FY 2018-19, while the number of discharges increased from 1.9 lakh to 2.6 lakh. This proves that our focus on clinical quality allows us to do more with less.
NH has always been at the forefront of responsible ESG stewardship in the healthcare space and we strive to align our healthcare initiatives with socio-economic imperatives.
Our CSR programmes allow us to reach out to the masses to realize the goal of an educated and healthy society.
India has been fighting an invisible war against adolescent anaemia for decades. Anaemia, caused by the lack of iron in the diet, is associated with learning disabilities, lowered immunity, and maternal mortality. NH and Britannia Nutrition Foundation have launched a nutritional intervention programme in Jaipur in which 52 government schools have been selected for this research and action programme. We will distribute iron fortified biscuits amongst adolescents and conduct dietary surveys. The emphasis is on addressing awareness towards anaemia and the need for nutritional diversity.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for urban Indian women and the second most common in rural women, with 1,40,000 new breast cancer patients being diagnosed annually. Project H.O.P.E. is aimed at early detection through promotive, preventive and curative efforts combined with research. Our teams have screened more than 60,000 people till now for oral and breast cancer and other non-communicable diseases including diabetes and hypertension.
I would like to conclude by saying that in these changing times, we have a great opportunity to change how healthcare is delivered. I would like to thank all our stakeholders, employees and associates who have reposed trust and confidence in us.
Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty