Better healthcare delivery at peripheral units

The Health Department, as part of improving service delivery, is exploring the possibility of augmenting diagnostic facilities at select secondary-care hospitals in the district, so that these can cater to the laboratory requirements of the healthcare institutions in the periphery as well.

Diagnostic facilities are totally absent or woefully inadequate in most of the government healthcare institutions in the periphery at present. As a result, people are forced to depend on various private laboratories in the periphery for all tests, where apart from non-uniform rates, the results too are not entirely reliable.

What is being envisaged now is the setting up of upgraded and accredited central laboratories at main taluk hospitals, which will also cater to the diagnostic requirements of hospitals in the periphery. Centralised laboratories are being proposed at District Hospital, Neyyattinkara; Nedumangad taluk hospital; and the General Hospital.

The healthcare institutions in the periphery, instead of directing people towards private laboratories, can collect samples from patients, which could then be arranged to be sent to the central facility in the taluk for testing. The results, as soon as these are ready, could be sent by e-mail to the respective institutions.

“The proposal was mooted after we followed-up the successful manner in which a similar arrangement at Women and Children (W&C) Hospital has managed to improve service delivery and reduce patient's out-of-pocket expenses in the hospital,” a senior Health official pointed out.

The W&C Hospital is sending at least 40 to 50 blood samples daily via courier to the laboratory at Indian Institute of Diabetes (IID0 for conducting thyroid function tests, the results of which are sent by IID to the hospital by e-mail.

The courier charges are met by the hospital from its hospital management committee (HMC) funds. The hospital does not find it to be a major burden because most BPL patients are covered under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) health insurance scheme.

“If the present diagnostic facilities at taluk hospitals can be upgraded, the periphery hospitals can utilise the same mechanism to get the lab tests done. Apart from getting reliable results — which will be totally free for BPL patients — the patients are saved a lot of running around too,” he pointed out.

Pathology

Another idea which has been mooted is the linking of all major government hospitals in the district with the Pathology Department at the Medical College Hospital (MCH), Thiruvananthapuram for getting specimens analysed.

All major government hospitals in the district are at present sending specimens to the Pathology Department at MCH. Just as in the case of laboratory tests, the patient or his/her relatives have to travel to MCH and deliver the samples and collect the results another day.