What has been the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on your business?
The pandemic has been challenging for businesses around the globe, but more so for those in the healthcare delivery sector. As a leading cancer care hospital, we had to ensure the continuity of care for our patients, while adhering to government guidelines in order to curtail the outbreak of Covid-19.
Initially, during the lockdown, the majority of patients postponed or even skipped their elective surgeries and procedures. While the unexpected halt in the usual inflow of patients for treatments like chemotherapy, radiation as well as diagnostic tests did impact our revenues, our larger concern was to make sure that our patients are not deprived of access to quality care.
The ability to offer remote/virtual consultations helped us to offer critical care and reduce the risks of coronavirus transmissions, while dealing with limited hospital resources. With time, as patients got back to in-person consultations, we took necessary measures to sanitise the premises and provide PPE kits to the doctors and other staff at the hospital.
In terms of finances, there have been several additional costs since the outbreak of the pandemic. Besides, the government’s decision on price restrictions and reservation of beds for covid-19 patients has been another blow for most hospitals.
What are the three to five critical steps that your organisations took to mitigate the impact? In the hindsight, what better could have been done?
Given that it was a global healthcare crisis that had brought the world to a standstill, our number one concern was to ensure that our patients don’t stop their cancer treatments abruptly. While it’s true that the compromised immune systems of cancer patients make them more prone to infections, the need of the hour was to balance the benefits of cancer-related care and mitigating the risks of contracting Covid-19.
Here are a few measures that Cytecare Cancer Hospitals adopted during the pandemic:
- We were prompt in sharing advisory protocols on preventive measures with our cancer patients as soon as the outbreak was reported.
- We ensured that our team of medical experts and staff were available 24X7 through our dedicated helpline number 180022176767 to help patients during an emergency as well as to answer patient queries.
- We introduced home-based services, wherever possible, to help reduce hospital footfalls and patient/attender travel, without compromising on the quality of care.
- We offered comprehensive video-consultation services to patients in order to facilitate personalised treatment plans, based on each patient’s unique circumstances and challenges.
- We launched our Smart ICU in collaboration with ‘Cloudphysician’, a healthcare technology company, to ensure round-the-clock monitoring of critically ill patients through remote surveillance and enhanced support for in-house teams of intensivists.
In retrospect, I honestly believe that we did the best that we could, despite all the uncertainty and myriad challenges that the pandemic has thrown our way. It has been a truly collaborative effort – and that is my biggest learning over the last one year.
3. What are the future business plans of your organisation keeping in consideration the new normal?
Cytecare Hospitals plans to continue on the journey of clinical excellence that we have been on since our inception in 2016. There are quite a few exciting projects in the pipeline.
- We plan to expand our footprint, with a couple of new centres in India as well as outreach centres in Africa. We had already instituted information centres in Africa, but had to put our plans on hold due to the pandemic. Now, we are all set to revive our expansion plans.
- In terms of cancer research, we are part of several patient studies and collaborations with the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP). Our endeavour is to promote new cancer treatments that are powered by robust research.
- We are focusing on introducing various advanced surgeries, in all specialties and other new treatment modalities including CAR-T cell immunotherapy in treating Hematological malignancies at our centre.
- We are looking at expanding the scope of CANCON, our annual super specialised conference that brings together India’s finest head and neck cancer experts to deliberate over the oral cancer challenge. This year, we are keen to put the spotlight on another cancer specialty that calls for urgent deliberation.
- Education is a key area of focus. We are working on fellowship programmes for pain and palliative care.
- We are also planning to launch a centre for neurosciences and expanding our specialities beyond oncology as well.
4. What are your three to five learnings/ideas/processes that have emerged from this?
When I look back at the last 12 months, I can see that with every challenge there have also been opportunities to learn and evolve from this unprecedented global experience.
The pandemic has instilled a more systematic sense of functioning in the healthcare sector. It has reiterated the importance of hygiene and safety measures not just for the world at large, but also for professionals working in hospitals and laboratories.
It has taught us to embrace a more proactive approach of care powered by innovative technologies. More than anything else, it has demonstrated the need to adopt a collaborative approach to tackle healthcare challenges. I hope that we are able to put this knowledge to good use in our battle against cancer.
5. What is your message to the healthcare fraternity and patients for the near future?
At present, cancer is the second leading cause of global mortality. According to the National Cancer Registry Programme Report, 2020, there are 1.39 million cancer cases in India currently. By 2025, the number is estimated to reach 1.57 million.
We can no longer afford to be ignorant or afraid of this crucial public health challenge. It’s important to acknowledge that with better treatment modalities and promising outcomes, cancer doesn’t have to be equated with death.
Our main motive is to make sure that as a Cancer Care Hospital we raise more awareness regarding prevention and early detection of cancer, about the right kind of diagnosis that is necessary as well as implementing more protocol based treatment. The biggest challenge for India is to bridge the yawning demand and supply gap in cancer care. It’s prudent to focus on predictive and preventive care to help tackle the growing cancer burden in the country.