Where alternative, modern medicine coexist: PM to launch Asia's largest multi-speciality hospital

Where alternative, modern medicine coexist: PM to launch Asia's largest multi-speciality hospital

A separate seven-storey building is dedicated to children and is claimed to be the biggest super-speciality hospital for children.

As you enter the sprawling complex of Asia’s largest private multi-speciality Amrita Hospital, you will be greeted with a polite “Namah Shivay”.

Established by spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, fondly known as Amma, the 130-acre facility in the outskirts of the national capital is in the last stages of construction. So far, the facility has used an investment of Rs 4,000 crore. Its 2,600-bed hospital is set to be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today.

The overall centre – with a built-up area of 1 crore square feet – hosts not only a large super-speciality hospital but also a four-star hotel, a medical college, a nursing college, a college for allied health sciences, a rehabilitation centre, a helipad for transportation of patients, and a 498-room guesthouse for patients’ family members among several other facilities.

The Amrita Hospital in Kochi, Kerala, is one of the premier medical institutes in South Asia and formed the base for the one in Faridabad.

Racing towards the launch date, the centre is undergoing final touches. In the first phase, the hospital aims to launch 550 beds and then upgrade it to 750 in the next 18 months. By 2027-29, the hospital is likely to roll out the planned capacity of 2,600 beds.

With more than 12,000 staffers and 700 doctors, the concept of the latest hospital is different from the existing ones, including their own hospital in Kerala’s Kochi, the officials here say.

The management plans to encourage doctors and staff to not to have “a paunch” or “a protruding belly” and stay healthy by using stairs more than elevators. “It’s mandatory for everyone including me,” said Dr Sanjeev K Singh, Resident Medical Director, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, to News18.com.

With a statue of “Sushruta” – an ancient Indian physician and the world’s first surgeon – facing the 14-storied hospital complex, the plan is to go big on blending alternative medicine, especially ayurveda, yoga, and homoeopathy, with modern medicines.

Driven by Amma’s concept of “compassion”, under the project, the hospital’s aim is to provide home-based facilities such as interventions for managing pain to maintain quality of life.

“The idea of ‘thoda dard seh lo’ (bear some more pain) or ‘surgery hui hai to dard hoga hi’ (pain is expected after surgery) is a bad practice,” Dr Singh said in the exclusive interaction.

The trust-based, not-for-profit hospital plans to monitor the stay of every patient closely where the team of doctors will be regularly asked to justify the person’s billing based on his/her stay in the hospital or in the ICU, cost of diagnostics or pharmacy, or the tests recommended.

Pain management for all patients

Along with palliative medicines, the hospital plans to go big on home health. While some services will be offered free of cost, others would be competitively priced.

“Our focus is on patients who are chronically or terminally ill. They may not be able to go to hospital as it would add cost burden or they may not be in a condition of travelling, we will go to their homes,” said Dr Singh.

The hospital plans to provide home-based facilities such as interventions for managing pain to maintain quality of life.

“We want to offer that kind of facility at home in the village or in high-rise buildings,” the medical director added. “The idea of death being painful is a wrong notion. We want to make this journey comfortable, as much as we can, especially when such medicines are available. For instance, a person living in pain with a large tumour or the notion that ‘surgery hua hai to pain to hoga hi’ is wrong. We are here to manage your pain and that’s why we can proudly say that we have a patient-centric approach.”

The hospital will have a separate department of palliative and pain management under which it will review all patients admitted to the hospital. The institute also plans to adopt villages.

“So far, we have decided to reach out to villages in our 50 km radius. We are firming up the plans,” said Dr SIngh

Doctors will wear many hats

Here, the medical director said, the doctors will not just sit in cabins to meet patients or do surgeries. They will be tasked with becoming faculty at the hospital’s own medical and nursing colleges. They will participate in research and development work at the in-built laboratory covering an area of more than 3 lakh square feet.

These doctors would then be given responsibilities to go out in the community and understand the prevalence of diseases on the ground and participate in community health services.

“We wanted a very comprehensive team,” said Dr Singh. “The idea is to provide comprehensive care. Every other hospital is providing clinical care which is curative and preventive. But here, we have carefully selected our faculty to do multiple tasks.”

All doctors, including seniors, will go into the community and understand the prevalence of diseases and will understand how the hospital or these doctors can intervene and improve public health.

Designing multiple ‘mini’ hospitals

Providing 81 specialities for patients including oncology, cardiac sciences, neurosciences, gastro-sciences, renal sciences, bone diseases and trauma, transplants, and mother and child care, the hospital is divided into three wings – economy, corporate, and international patients.

A separate seven-storey building is dedicated to children and is claimed to be the biggest super-speciality hospital for children.

The concept of the hospital makes it peculiar as every floor is a “mini-hospital” in its own way.

For instance, once you enter the floor of your speciality, registration, nurse assessment, doctor consultation, blood testing, diagnostics (such as ECG, ultrasound, endoscopy), cafeteria, and other services are all provided there.

Where alternative, modern medicine coexist: PM to launch Asia's largest multi-speciality hospital
Anne Heche to receive Honour Walk by hospital staff after being taken off life support

“The hospital is designed in a way so that people don’t keep on searching for rooms and running from pillar to post to get the things done,” Dr Singh said

New rules: How to break bad news

Launching a new rule for all doctors, the hospital has come up with counselling rooms with audio-video recording. The rule is compulsory for all doctors whenever they have to share an update on a patient’s critical health.

The concept behind the rooms is the importance of a “carer” where a nurse or a social medical worker will be assigned to the family who would know the entire case’s progress apart from the doctor involved.

“The behaviour of the doctors and clinical staff has to change,” said the medical director. “All critical care areas will have access to the counselling areas. These areas are built with sofa set arrangement as we did not want to make it formal with table-chair.”

Counselling is generally done standing.

“We cannot break the bad news standing. Hence, we are mandating that everyone has to be counselled in that room where the doctor will be accompanied by a nurse and medical social worker. So far, we have practised the ‘science’ of medicines but at Amrita in Faridabad, we plan to execute the ‘art’ of clinical medicine,” Dr Singh said.

Building trust between patients and doctors

The hospital has also established an “advance counselling centre” with the objective of building trust between patients and doctors.

“For instance, you need a total knee replacement or robotic surgery will be done… Or you are advised to get a valve placed in your heart. This centre will have all these implants placed on demonstration in a separate room,” said Dr Singh.

Patients will be shown these implants and the room will have video-based testimonials of the patients who have received such treatment earlier.

“No hospital, to date, has executed such a concept. We will have our medical social workers in the room to explain everything about the implants. The idea is to work on the wrong notion that a doctor is suggesting this surgery or device, just to make money. The whole procedure will be communicated to the patient and his family so well so that the patient doesn’t need to have a second or a third opinion,” Dr Singh added.

Rational medication practices will bring pricing down

In an effort to develop a new culture in the institute, Amrita Hospital’s management plans to enforce “rational medication practices” to reduce pricing.

“Healthcare is expensive and one of the major pain points,” said Dr Singh. “We don’t want to practise defensive medicine and give unwarranted, irrational antibiotics to our patients. It’s been established that defensive medicine at least costs Rs 80,000 more to patients. We want to be lower than the lowest pricing. We have invested a lot and now, for Amma, we want to make it sustainable by looking at economies of scale. We don’t want to restrict ourselves to Faridabad only. From the international market to pan-India, we want to expand our reach and increase the volume with an aim to do reasonable pricing.”

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