Tamil Nadu

‘COVID-19 has transformed healthcare provision forever’

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on several new areas in Tamil Nadu. From learning to deal with the unknown to investing in facilities and taking steps to curb the infection and maintaining the mental well-being of the infected persons, healthcare providers are learning to stay ahead in the game.

On Sunday, three experts — Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan, Girdhar J. Gyani, director-general of the Association of Healthcare Providers of India, and Preetha Reddy, vice-chairperson, Apollo Hospitals — spoke about their experience during the crisis. They were participating in the first of a series of conversations hosted by The Hindu. Sunday’s discussion focussed on the theme of evolving patient-centric healthcare systems post-COVID.

“We have faced challenges such as swine flu, dengue, ebola, nipah and zika,” said Dr. Radhakrishnan, in the webinar titled ‘Putting the patient back at the centre of health care systems’. Yet, none of those challenges had been as intense as the SARS-CoV-2 infection that resulted in the government increasing testing facilities, bed strength, oxygen supplies and ventilators. In seven months, the State ramped up its facilities from just one testing centre and 20 beds to round-the-clock testing, 203 laboratories and 1.4 lakh beds, Dr. Radhakrishnan said. The pandemic presented challenges unlike others — people not only needed clinical care but also psychosocial support. “People felt quarantined from society,” he said, and this propelled the government to introduce a support system for those undergoing treatment for the infection at hospitals or care centres.

Credit to govt.

Ms. Reddy said the State government had shown the way in treatment. So much so that she had sent clinicians to the government’s dedicated COVID care hospital “to learn from them”. Healthcare providers had to deal with the fear of the unknown. This meant that not only patients but also healthcare professionals and front-line health workers needed hand-holding. The pandemic had shown that hospitals had to be more responsible. “If mortality has come down, it is only because of collaboration. We have come a long way from being afraid,” she surmised.

Only an empowered patient, one who has the knowledge of the treatment process, would facilitate a patient-centric treatment, said Dr. Gyani, who called for transparency in treatment cost and provision of information to all patients.

The government should bill all patients, even those covered under the State health insurance schemes. This would inform patients of the concern the State has for its citizens. The government should also bring in an independent regulator to assess healthcare facilities. This would help to make informed choices when it came to treatment, Dr. Gyani said.


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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 12:58:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/covid-19-has-transformed-healthcare-provision-forever/article33054373.ece

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