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International Hospital. The EOU Tag For Hospitals!

Progressive foreign exchange earnings as also savings and the feasibility of effectively addressing critical issues of pricing and quality assurance apart a set of international hospitals in India would do a world of good for healthcare service across the country by the factor of influence.

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True, to call a hospital an ‘export-oriented unit’ sounds a bit awkward. Nevertheless, the thought would deserve some good thinking should we look at the need by the objectives implicit in the abbreviation EOU beyond the plain sense of it. The contemplation would at least provide some clear perspectives on the approach to aggressively increasing the potential to offer healthcare services to foreigners many times over the best of normal expectations for the obvious trade benefits and more importantly for the chance to create globally competitive healthcare centres right here in India as also for other very worthy benefits that would arise from the strategic decision.

Simple questions are; how to significantly augment hospital services to foreign (international) patients? Is the current practice of seeking international patients by corporate hospital chains impacting pricing to the detriment of Indian patients? How to cost-effectively realize and exponentially grow a potential demand set that is strategically important? What should be the service architecture of international hospitals that they can yield besides multifold trade advantages and reputation for brand India certain influence in upgrading healthcare across the country?

‘International hospital’, as the EOU tag, would deliver similar advantages and lots more benefits to the business of hospitals as also to the country as did the ‘tag’ for a wide range of export feasible businesses and to the country. The difference being that in the case of hospitals the products (healthcare services) are delivered and used offshore by foreign patients which make the adoption of the concept for hospitals sound a bit awkward.

The enabling conceptual tag EOU initiated close to four decades ago is productive when distinct scope exists for augmenting product features and quality perceptions by the offshore demand present for such superior products/services particularly in the developed parts of the world. Envisaged thoughtfully and reinforced with befitting policy guidelines, the conceptual approach should help India swell the foreign exchange revenues from healthcare services multifold with all the consequential advantages in full flow in the medium term making best of the expectations from best of the efforts otherwise insignificant.

The move would also correct an anomaly currently existing at the cost of Indian patients

Corporate hospitals, particularly those with a chain of them in major cities which have all become the go-to option for all kinds of major illnesses and surgical remedies seem to be testing the limits on pricing, ever. One of the reasons for big bills upsetting to most patients and their families happens to be this easy policy of pricing by the demand which often gets overwhelmed with just the affluent class at these hospitals. And, at hospitals that try to drive up revenue by reaching out to foreign patients pricing decision significantly gets influenced at the cost of local patients either case; should the hospital succeed or not. And as in any business segment corporate hospitals set the benchmark and practices which smaller hospitals would follow and try start with pricing. And, in India, multi-speciality hospitals in the cities have patients visiting all the way from towns and villages hundreds of kilometres away only to find it not quite affordable.

Hospitals in India, in general, seem to be, of late, finding it difficult to match their costs and revenues with a few seriously running the risk of becoming financial wrecks in spite of their bills puzzling most of their patients. When with good bills a business fails to make good, it tells of the mismatching cost structure with the clientele it serves or of gross ignorance of the finer domain-specific aspects of running it. And when that happens to be true of the sector it tells of fundamental flaws that restrict feasibility despite efficiency. Civil aviation in India is a classic example. Airlines in India turned the stiff business of flying worse with foolish pricing strategy and in competition. Hospitals have been ever at a distance from affordable pricing surely so on expensive to treat ailments that have become common.

Structural incongruities that make business sectors stiff or restrict big growth chances need supportive actions from both central and state governments. Such suggestions of resetting business sector fundamentals or about major growth initiatives ought to flow from businesses within larger business sector/segment seeking policy framework from governments. Capability to advise governments authoritatively on sector issues can be a powerful industry leadership attribute for competent brands in any sector.

‘International hospital’ as EOU ‘tag’ for hospitals worthy of it would only drive up the happening demand for hospital services from foreign patients with multiple force and notably very cost-effectively with the tag being the sole promotion tool. Large scale feasibility and all incidental advantages from the conceptual approach would flow from the one point benchmark stipulation for these hospitals i.e. to be uncompromisingly at par and competing with the best anywhere in the world including on the research tasks. The policy framework on the plan should address; size, service segmentation options, ideal foreign/local patient ratio, strategic locations and the investor incentives government would offer as a trade-off for the absolute and notional benefits and advantages that would accrue for the country.

Progressive foreign exchange earnings as also savings and the feasibility of effectively addressing critical issues of pricing and quality assurance apart a set of international hospitals in India would do a world of good for healthcare service across the country by the factor of influence.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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hospitals healthcare

Adve Srinivasa Bhat

The author is a Management consultant with a practice focus on; Branding, marketing strategies and innovation research

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