Dr. Om Manchanda, Managing Director, Dr. Lal PathLabs
Speaks about changing perceptions to deal with stress, positive reinforcements, taking out time to relax & re-strengthen yourself
The video is a detailed account of a conversation with him. Below is an excerpt…
Frontline workers are experiencing frustration and stress while trying to tackle the demanding nature of their jobs. Is this a reality that you have personally witnessed?
An interesting thing to note is that while healthcare is one industry dealing with one challenge, every organization and its employees have had different experiences. Senior management had to deal extensively with industry bodies, governments and media. The middle management had to be very proactive in dealing with business operations and keeping staff motivation high. Frontline workers and doctors had to handle the tough tasks of handling patients and family members.
A shared experience among all these employees is that of a 24×7 fight against the virus and overwork. The coming of a second wave has ignited uncertainty about a healthy future as there appears to be no end of the virus. For most frontline workers, this time has been an emotional rollercoaster with the joy of seeing critical patients recover and the grief of watching someone pass away due to COVID.
Below is a link to an inspiring talk on the importance of contributing to aiding those in need:
Do you have any message to give to the frontline warriors?
A positive outlook can help change your perception of the pandemic. We should try to look at this period, as one where we can give back to the community and make a difference in someone’s life by showing empathy and care. It is the effort of frontline workers and all people in the healthcare sector that contributes to making the difference between life and death for numerous COVID patients and their families.
A second message is that we all need to acknowledge that this is a lengthy fight, especially if more waves are to follow. It is important to take the time to relax and find the strength that will help us rise above stressful scenarios and adversity.
Below are links to two inspiring instances of healthcare workers going above and beyond to find joy and sharing it with their patients during these times:
As a leading player in the healthcare sector, what has your organization done to ensure the wellbeing of HCWs?
The major issue among most employees was anxiety around an unknown illness. They had fears of catching the virus and transmitting it to their loved ones. We undertook changes in some broad areas to ensure employee wellbeing.
- Health – this was the most important aspect. We ensured regular testing and term insurance for all workers, along with giving transportation facility from home to office. Furthermore, the workplace was carefully arranged to ensure all possible safety
- Financial security – there was major anxiety of job loss during the first surge. We assured all our employees of continued job security
- Emotional stability – the senior management spoke to employees using video conferences and remained accessible to all workers
- Recognition and rewards structure – this allowed people to feel appreciated and motivated to keep up the fight against COVID.
What are the challenges to provide diagnostic services in rural India? What can be the roadmap for the development of these services in the coming years?
A lot of development in the diagnostics labs sector has only taken place in the last 15 years. Diagnostics has not been able to penetrate the nation at the level of Tier 1, 2, 3 towns and rural areas altogether. Penetration levels remain low as there is an infrequent prescription of tests by physicians in PHCs. This low demand since pre-COVID times, plus the low affordability of some tests for people with little disposable income, has held back the growth of new diagnostic labs.
There are 2 things that need to be done:
- Point of Care (PoC) innovation: This could allow us to do tests on the spot, instead of collecting the sample and transporting it back and forth over long distances
- Public Private Partnerships: Such partnerships will allow diagnostic labs to secure Government aid and tackle the prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases in areas with poor health awareness and resources
Anxiety in the masses has also caused them to direct violence towards healthcare workers. What can be done to protect HCWs?
Despite all the lives that HCWs save, there will always be instances of death and loss. There is a tendency of the media to exacerbate such events, that causes negativity to overshadow all positive developments. I still believe that this pandemic is a time where the efforts of the healthcare industry are starkly visible to the people and need to be appreciated.
We need to make sure that we involve credible voices from the healthcare and non-healthcare sector to come forward and highlight the contributions made by HCWs. Some media channels are involved in this endeavor, but we need to promote more healthcare industry bodies to take this up.
There is great disparity between the quality of diagnostic services offered by labs in India. How can overall reliability and quality of this sector be improved?
At all points of time, diagnostic labs are trying to deliver upon three standards: quality, affordability and accessibility. The one solution that can aid in meeting all three challenges is scaling up. If organizations aim towards scaling up, they can get quality instruments and make them affordable as there is a huge demand base. As production expands, it ensures accessibility as well. We, as an industry, need to focus on scaling up to deliver better results.
What will be the role of the diagnostics labs as the 2nd wave recedes?
Diagnostics is a lead indicator of disease presence in any region. In the coming future, the surge of cases showing the presence of a third wave could be predicted by companies and labs working in diagnostics, to give the country an early warning. A reminder for the industry is also that our focus needs to be on a range of NCDs and COVID, without deprioritizing one or the other. Dr. Lal PathLabs has tried to give equal attention to both of these concerns by instituting a COVID Task Force and a Non-COVID Task Force.
Where should an organization like NATHEALTH divert its energies to help the healthcare industry even more?
One suggestion is that the organization should work with government bodies. Indian healthcare system is not equitable across different states or across districts within a state. While decentralized healthcare is not a harm, many of the healthcare structures that we have today were instituted decades ago and require significant changes. Industry bodies like NATHEALTH need to work with policymakers to help them understand how structures need to evolve according to today’s requirements. A think tank that is based on proactive public-private interactions can help reimagine the future of Indian healthcare.