Dec 20Featured ArticleIssue

Healthcare Leader: Meena Ganesh

MD and CEO, Portea Medical

COVID-19 hit the world suddenly, at a time when no one predicted it. The scale of the pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown was unprecedented. Healthcare was the most directly impacted as old operating models went out of the door. Overnight, there was a need to learn to diagnose, assist and treat remotely whenever possible. There was an increase in the demand for home healthcare services given the rising burden on hospitals and the fear of contracting the infection. At Portea Medical, we mobilised our troops, partnered with governments and provided home isolation services to hundreds of thousands of afflicted patients. With the prolonged impact of the pandemic, the home healthcare sector will continue to see massive growth going forward as well.

The last few months have been a big learning experience in terms of dealing with a crisis while working remotely all the while. It is important to reimagine the company direction, products and services, and go-to-market strategies. The most important role of the leader is going to be constantly scanning and modifying the direction as things get clearer.The pandemic has shown that there is a need to reimagine public health systems and create a new healthcare model that is affordable, accessible and effective. While all of the healthcare cannot be done remotely on digital platforms, we can still ensure primary healthcare delivery through diagnostics and treatment facilities. Coupled with Ayushman Bharat, it is possible to bring high-quality primary healthcare to every India. However, all this needs to be done on a war footing and through a joint effort between the public and private sectors.

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My leadership team and I travelled all the time to the 22 cities we operate in to understand and manage operations. It was important to motivate our teams in each city by spending time with them and observing operations first hand. The pandemic also provided a great opportunity to meet patients and their families to understand their problems and help solve them. During this time, we repurposed our technology and medical capability to help governments remotely monitor COVID positive home isolated patients. We are associated with six different state governments to provide these services in their respective jurisdictions. So far, we have delivered services to treat more than 100,000 COVID positive patients, of which less than 3 per cent needed hospitalisation.

This solution is now being offered by us to corporates and individuals too. We also used our existing digital capabilities to support this change in patient mindset by supporting them. Going forward, we are focusing a lot more on digital solutions, and integrating them better with our existing on-ground services.The innovative services offered in the healthcare sector during the pandemic have ushered in the era of out-of-hospital healthcare in India. During this period, people have experienced the benefits and efficiency of home-based healthcare services. Options like telemedicine consultations are digital processes that can function effectively even when normal social life is disrupted and patients are not able to travel to a conventional healthcare facility or clinic. This will bolster the overall healthcare quality in India and will enable quality healthcare services to cover all parts of the country including the remote or rural areas.

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