EXCLUSIVE: COVID has driven home the importance of preventive care: Dr Gautam Sen of Healthspring

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Dr Gautam Sen, eminent medical academician and surgeon, founded Healthspring, a healthcare solution in 2010 to help correct our broken health delivery system where it matters most – at the entry level of care, which is ‘Primary Care’.

At present he is on the Board of Governors of National Health System Resource Centre, a Technical Arm of National Health Mission of GOI and presides as the Chairman of Healthspring.

MediaBrief.com caught up with Dr Sen to know more about how Healthspring has been reforming healthcare delivery in India, how to promote mental health awareness, the effects of the pandemic on the healthcare space, and much more  

Read on for a healthy dose of information and insights.

Dr Sen, what was the vision behind the conception of Healthspring?
Dr Gautam Sen: Healthspring was founded with the  vision of correcting our broken health delivery system where it matters most- at the entry level of care, which is “Primary Care” It encompasses a huge area at pre-hospital space right from care at home to responding to day to day health care needs. This could be acute and chronic illnesses to more urgent and emergency medical situations.
LEADERBRIEF EXCLUSIVE: Discussing mental disorder is one of the keys to overcome it - Dr Gautam Sen @TheHealthspring @dr_gautamsen Click To Tweet

 

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How was Healthspring received by the public when it was founded in 2011?
Healthspring was set up in response to what we perceived to be a significant need gap for patients: robust primary care that was dependable, trustworthy, comprehensive and ethical. All of our services, and indeed our clinic design, was set up based on patient feedback. We have added services over the years as a direct result of consistent patient feedback.
With almost a decade since its inception how has Healthspring as a brand evolved?
We have played an important role in helping shape policy, and bringing issues such as patient feedback, quality and ethics to the forefront. Our national and international recognitions reflect this. In many ways we have hewed to exactly the vision and values we set out: to provide high-quality, standards-based, customer-focused and ethical primary care, and to Transform health and financial outcomes in India.
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What are some of the services that Healthspring provides which you personally feel are best in the business?
The services offered by us are Expert Doctor Services, TeleConsult, Emergency Services, Diagnostic and Support Services, Home Care, Mental Wellness, Diet & Nutrition, Dental Care, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy.
Tell us about the corporate services that Healthspring offers and how can this help the wellbeing of employees?
We subsequently added our corporate services vertical in response to feedback from HR heads and CEOs of companies, that they were lacking an employee health benefits partner that could work with them across the country, including in remote and rural locations.
Heathspring’s services also includes a Mental Wellness Program, given that there is still a stigma attached to mental health in India, how has Healthspring been breaking the barriers in this space?
We believe that mental well-being should be an area of focus at the primary care itself. It is fairly common and the hardships of mental ailments are getting pronounced a lot in the recent past especially during the ongoing pandemic. Many individuals are living a contradictory life of a loving family, financial stability, and excellent social life but fail to accept the reality. Discussing mental disorder is one of the keys to overcome it.
Awareness of this has to be made as common as going in for a routine health check or meeting a doctor for cold or flu. And hence mental wellbeing is one of the focused line of services at Healthspring through a qualified and experienced team of Psychiatrists & Psychologists.
How has Healthspring been communicating about its services to the people?
To date, customer feedback, in the form of a Net Promoter Score, is one of the most important metrics for the company, and for individual employees’ performance appraisals.
On an ongoing basis, we also get in-depth feedback from our Patient Participation Group. Regular meeting with our PPG Group, which is autonomous, helps us to constantly improve, hear and interact with our members. In fact we consider it to be the best method of quality assurance and improvement.
In addition to it we ensure all the relevant information are communicated to our customers through phone calls, whatsapp, SMS & e-mails.
In what location is Healthspring currently operating and what are Healthspring’s plans for expanding its presence in other states and locations?
Our retail centers are currently operational in Mumbai & Pune and our occupational health centers are operational across 18 states. We plan to open retail centers in Bangalore & Delhi soon.
How can one become a member of Healthspring and what are the advantages of being one?
You can opt for our annual health plans which gives you unlimited access to our doctors, 24X7 with quarterly Health checks and access to 24X7 emergency response system, to ensure longitudinal care for you
How has Healthspring adapted to the COVID-19 situation?
When most of the organizations were operating from home, the biggest challenge for healthcare centers like us was to be available for all our customers along with providing them a safe COVID free environment.
We ensured utmost care in creating a safe environment for our patients in our retail clinics and occupational health centers present across the country. The sense of empathy we demonstrated, helped us in strengthening and consolidating the belief that the customers had in our organization and the services rendered by us to each one of them.
How has the pandemic changed people’s perspective on long term healthcare wellbeing?
The biggest insight is that people have acclaimed the importance and criticality of Primary/Preventive care & Family Medicine. Healthspring has always believed that a robust primary care system is the best way to handle the current healthcare requirement of our country.
In the current scenario most of the pressure was created on the tertiary care facilities which was never anticipated or handled earlier. This has led to unavailability of beds for emergency cases as all the tertiary care centers were operating at their maximum threshold.
A paradigm shift in the way healthcare sector has been operating, is the need of the hour. An efficient and organized primary care network should manage the burned at primary & secondary levels while the tertiary care facilities should focus on emergency and chronic care patients.
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Do you think the trend of remote consultation and monitoring will continue when we return to normalcy?
Since inception, Healthspring has been advocating the concept and importance of Tele-medicine including tele-consultation. Telemedicine, including tele-consult, is envisaged to be an integral part of the new normal. The outbreak of COVID-19 is changing the way people perceive telemedicine and the outlook of physical visit to the doctor in-person is witnessing a drastic shift.
Over a period of time people have got used to the concept of seeking advice from doctors online. The government is also urging people to make use of technological platforms to support the measures of social distancing.
Technology-based healthcare service delivery is already witnessing a significant surge in the recent past where people are consulting doctors across specialties. The first consultation on tele-health platforms can help separate the emergency cases form non-emergency ones. This will make healthcare more accessible, more widespread and convenient.

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How has Healthspring’s doctor been helping their patients during COVID?
At Healthspring our doctors played an important role by: Preparing the patients for the pandemic by providing them correct information, Our doctors were available for tele-consultation throughout the day Home visits were also done for elderly & chronic patients to maintain the continuum of care.
Patients were encouraged to buy medical devices like pulse oximeter, BP monitoring device, glucometer, thermometer, oxygen concentrator etc. We trained them on their usage and their readings were monitored regularly to the doctors
As an academician and surgeon with an experience spanning over 40 years, what are some current healthcare advancements that should be adopted by healthcare providers in India?
The COVID19 Pandemic situation has opened up a great opportunity for global healthcare to radically change the way one thinks. It needs to include improving the socio-economic determinants of the society across the countries, be conscious about the environmental degradation in the larger sense as well as locally, going back to basics of the provision of modern sanitation and availability of clean and safe drinking water for all.
Our focus should be to keep the population healthy rather than spending the money available for health on treating complicated diseases with diminishing returns. Keeping the population healthy and finding innovative methods of financing it and rewarding better health outcomes is the way forward in attaining better health outcomes at a lesser cost, the aim of Universal Health Care by 2025.

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Digital Technology and AI would be the tools to achieve the goals based on principles of P4 Medicine-Predictive, Preventive, Participative and Personalised care.
All three stakeholders, the receiver of services (individual/Community), service provider (healthcare services and its personnel) and financier of the services (public or private) should be responsible and accountable with measurable performance indicators.

Your thoughts, please