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COVID19 – the Indian perspective

Throughout the current Coronavirus outbreak, I have been producing a weekly blog series on Crisis Management, Marketing and Communications. This week, I’m pleased to welcome guest blogger Sudhaker Jadhav, Chief Operating Officer at Oasis Fertility to give some insight on the COVID19 crisis at ground level in India.

While the world is battling the unprecedented COVID19, here in Indian hospitals we have been preparing a set of new protocols to fight this pandemic. It has been a new experience for the medical fraternity and administrators, there is no reference point in the past. Hospitals and clinics had to prepare for COVID19.  And yes, most have them have pretty much implemented some robust protocols.  To not only deal with COVID positive patients, but also their routine OP and IP patients as well. Hospitals and clinics are now getting used to the new normal.

Survival of Fittest and Fastest

For all most all the healthcare providers it has been a matter of survival of fittest and fastest during these times. During the last couple of months since the lockdown began, hospitals have had complete zero OPD functionality and only the ER was functional, The capacity went southwards to as low as 20% in IPD and the OPD. Thankfully in the last few days this has climbed to 20-30% of its load. It’s just imperative that the healthcare organizations learn to stay afloat in these difficult times.

Phantom Pain

For doctor owned clinics or hospitals, it was a complete black hole and they have actually rolled down their shutters. Most of them are not in a position to bear the overheads of the business. It was like a phantom pain, but they didn’t know where it is coming from. We have also seen some healthcare organization downsizing their staff and their consultants. There are instances where the staff and consultant’s salaries were lowered temporarily to a certain percentage.

Raining Webinars

There was a social media onslaught of webinar promotions. There was an overload of scientific discussion on the internet platform and Zoom emerged as a winner in terms of the subscription base. With very little to do, the clinicians felt like going back to school while attending all the online CME’s and discussions. Hospitals and clinics took to the digital route for curating the leads and keeping them ready to get patients foot in the door the moment the lockdown ends. Pharma sales executives and hospitals BD team had their packed schedules conducting online CME’s. We don’t see any time in the near future that there would a large congregation of medical fraternity. It is anybody’s guess what role BD team will be playing in the hospitals.

Rolling the Dice

Thankfully for Indians, the inherited strong immunity, exposure to malaria, dengue, BCG vaccination and maybe less virulent of the virus load have helped our lower numbers of mortality. This doesn’t mean that we are fully contained, but we need to live with it, it is like driving a car on the road without causing an accident!

While the medical consumers mind set is still to be unboxed, as for him/her, all elective surgeries or elective treatments tends to be deferred. Refer to Maslow’s hierarchy model where current priority is physiological and safety, while social, esteem and self-actualization is not at all on people’s mind.

The Smile Behind the Mask

One of the most compassionate way of treating the patient is with a smile, which now the healthcare professional is not able to exhibit. A smile goes a long way in comforting an anxious patient. It brings some brightness in these dark times, but is now hiding behind the mask. The doctor isn’t able to place his/her arms around the patients shoulder now, the gesture of so much comfort. The million-dollar question is how we as HCO’s came up with innovations like putting a smiley tag around the neck or pasting a photo on the PPE to establish a connection. The pure form of social connectivity is missing and would will only comeback in a completely corona free era. 

 

Sudhaker Jadhav, Chief Operating Officer, Oasis Fertility.

This certainly raises some questions of what the new normal will look like for the rest of the world as clinics reopen. As an industry we have many challenges ahead of us in terms of operations and attracting the patients to a COVID secure clinic.

Next week, I will be looking at the role of podcasts as a marketing tool.

Finally, our first Crisis Management, Marketing and Communications Seminar will take place this Thursday 28 May 2020 at 5pm London time. Please register here.

Veronica Montgomery, Clinic & Patient Liaison Consultant

The Fertility Hub

Previous blogs in this series

Part one – COVID19 Crisis Management for IVF Clinics

Part two – Marketing and Communications During COVID19

Part three – Financial Implications of COVID19

Part four – The use of PR during the COVID19 pandemic

Part five – Protecting your brand during COVID19

Part six – Online marketing during COVID19

Part seven – Using online seminars to build trust.

Part eight – The power of newsletters during the COVID19 crisis.

Part nine – Video marketing tips during COVID19.