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Wide vision

COURTEOUS AND charming, he exudes an old world aura of grace. But make no mistake. This man is a quality-driven warrior, who has transformed the way charitable organisations can be run.

Excerpts from a conversation with Dr. Badrinath, founder of Sankara Nethralaya, on the ideas that have defined its operating policy...

How did it all begin?

In 1976, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, the Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, called on a group of doctors to serve the people of the country. He wanted institutions with `a missionary spirit'. So in deference to his wishes, I started this venture in 1978.

What makes Sankara Nethralaya different?

There is no compromise on quality. We have two systems for monitoring quality: a `policing' of patients' medical records by other consultants, and a system of reporting untoward incidents to the management ensuring correct diagnosis and treatment. Among the numerous papers we publish are retrospective studies, which allow us to see how we are faring overall, and compare our results with internationally published work as well. One such study reveals that for the year 2002, our post cataract infection rate was 0.04 per cent, which is lower than the incidence rate of 0.07 per cent quoted in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. We also have checklists/systems built into the functioning of the organisation, and training programmes, which occur continuously. Our services are available to the rich and poor alike. No difference in the level of quality or care. In 2002, 42 per cent of our work was done wholly free of cost inclusive of food, drugs, glasses and post-operative care. We have professional administration, and exceptionally good integration of medical business administration with clinical factors.

How important is keeping up with the latest technology to Sankara Nethralaya?

What is available to the West must be available to our patients. But we pick up proven technology, found to be beneficial. We've introduced many new technologies to India for the first time.

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