In today’s era when technology of globalization, access to medical aids has become remarkably easy. Getting in touch with doctors is just a call away and it shows us the beginning of the age of telemedicine.
Treatment has become easier on the fingertips. Telemedicine unit buses take a troll in the metro cities. It is the idea of Dr Gurushankar S, the Vice Chairman of Meenakshi Mission Hospital, to start this service in Tier 2 city.
In Madurai, one can see these buses commuting in the city. The buses are of Meenakshi Mission Hospital that oscillate between the ends of the city and are connected to doctors in telemedicine unit. Once the vitals are checked by the nurse, the patient can connect to the doctors by video calls. Such is the huge vision of Dr Gurushankar who aims higher and global with passing time. The buses serve almost 1, 50,000 people per year.
Meenakshi Mission Hospital was founded in 1985 by N Sethuraman, a urologist with the aim of running a modern hospital in the tier-two city of Madurai. By 1991, the vision of the 100 bed hospital was interrupted by clans of politicians and businessmen. They belonged to Devar community. In south India, business and political groups have stronger bases owing to the powerful clans which were even more influential than the caste system.
However, by 2005 N Sethuraman was almost losing control over the hospital that had become a hub of business-running political clan. He envisioned the hospital to be a low-price medical facility but it was turning out to be business running political favors during elections.
This had become a matter of concern for Sethuraman. He had to turn to his youngest son Gurushankar to save the hospital. He was concerned that the association with political powers centers had begun to run the place will eventually shut down the hospital. The hospital had turned into a Rs 100-crore business with 250 beds but lack of control made it evident that the business ethics was being compromised because of the involvement of cronies.
When Gurushankar stepped in, he was merely 25-year-old and was planning to go abroad to finish his studies. Along with this, Gurushankar had no experience of the business let alone he had to run it solely. Because of these setbacks Guru had nothing that could have made him ready to face the 12 years rollercoaster at his father’s hospital.
Gurushankar says, “At the time, I was never prepared to take over the business. It happened when I was going abroad to study that I realized that dad was going through a lot of trouble and he needed my help. The decision to stay back changed my life.”
Guru had a clear sight since childhood. There was no web that could capture him or sway him from his decisions. When Guru stepped in he made sure that the business sacrificed friendships and involved bankruptcies. It was the distinct vision of Gurushankar and his strict decisions that saved the hospital.
The business is now a Rs 350-crore enterprise which is planned to turn in Rs 500 crore by the next five years. Guru plans to open three more hospitals by 2024 and start telemedicine practice in Africa. The hospital serves almost half a million patients per year who all leave the hospital giving blessings due to the reasonable prices and good treatment.
The vision of Meenakshi Hospital is to provide affordable care to both rich and poor patients. Guru talks about Tamil Nadu as a progressive state when it comes to healthcare. He says previously in Tamil Nadu they were fighting with communicable diseases and now with non-communicable diseases.
Talking about diseases, he says, India is the diabetic centre of world which also addresses cardiac patients in huge quantity along with renal failure cases in rural areas. Contrary to this, there are good hospitals in metro and tier-one cities in Tamil Nadu which is just the opposite in tier-two or tier-three cities. The only benefit in Tamil Nadu is there is a great inflow on doctors. There are also good medical colleges so despite the high demand the supply is also compensated.
This is the vision of Meenakshi Mission Hospital; it says no man is too poor to afford first-class medical service. However, this is not possible in all of India and Gurushankar is striving to pat the gap and make medical services easier. There is cross subsidization in order to balance the amount payable from one sect to manage the cost bearable from the other sect.
Following this mantra, Meenakshi has become the biggest health group in Tamil Nadu that has 45 different departments attending to medical and surgical needs of patients. Along with that, in Meenakshi Hospital there is best quality of equipment which are bought in bulk once they are come in market. There is 24 hour consultant service present and there is a good working environment in the hospital which provides a boost to the doctors while working. Guru makes sure that each patient is able to afford the best quality treatment.
There are few specialties in Hospital where irrespective of whether the patient is able to pay or not they are treated free of cost. It is the only hospital in its vicinity that treats pediatric oncology. He suggests that 80 percent of the children can be saved if given proper treatment. Thus this service comes for free in Meenakshi hospital.
Usually when the cost is cut from the patient the quality is compromised which is not the case in Meenakshi hospital. Despite the cost cut the patient is given the best of treatment. There are other ways where the cost is compensated.
He launched a campaign named Aram Seiydhu Pazhagu which means do well and make it a habit. Gurushankar initiated it owing to the trust between the public and the doctors has been weakening. Most people think that hospitals are money making institutions and this theory has to be changed.
The sole existence of a hospital is not making money but helping people and making a difference in their life. This is the philosophy behind Gurushankar’s vision of Meenakshi Mission Hospital which aims at helping every patient that comes to the hospital. The strong vision and clear heart ambition has soared the name the hospital even abroad by now.
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