While the year 2020 was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and the spate of disruptions brought about in its wake; it is imperative that we, in 2021, focus on the continuing challenge of improving our healthcare infrastructure while mitigating the risks associated with the rapidly changing consumer behavior brought about by the pandemic. Post the pandemic, the maximum negative impact has been on non-emergency treatments, elective surgeries, and medical consultations, with patients choosing to defer treatment out of fear and/or anxiety of contracting the virus. This is despite the social-distancing protocols in place, increased usage of PPEs and extensive sanitization drills being conducted at all healthcare facilities currently.
For my team and me at Kalsekar Hospitals, the mission in 2021 would thus be to embrace digitization and maximize the adoption of digital technology in routine service delivery and management in order to reach out to more patients, without stressing the physical infrastructure or forcing those in need to physically visit our 100-bed super-specialty facility at Mumbra.
Simple solutions like providing online medical appointment booking facility can help a lot in maintaining social-distancing norms at the hospital while also providing the added convenience of on-demand healthcare to patients. This should also help in assuaging those who need treatment and consultations but are currently skeptical of visiting a hospital due to the fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus and would offer them a convenient, digital alternative.
Understanding the underlying reason for this behavioral change, healthcare leaders should embrace digital solutions for medical consulting like video messaging apps that will help cater to a larger set of patients who need diagnostic or medical management consultancy. This includes the larger section of our population in rural areas who currently have little access to physical healthcare facilities and would benefit immensely from e-consulting. The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to an increase in mental health concerns and there is a vast majority of the population who need sound advice on matters of mental health; yet are being deprived either because of accessibility issues or cost concerns. We will actively work in reaching out via social media platforms on topics of mental health awareness and offer quality consultation to those in need by utilizing the same social media platforms. This will be in addition to the Awareness Camps that we have been historically organizing at associate institutions to improve public awareness on key social and mental health issues.
Along with patient care, it is imperative that our healthcare professionals are constantly updated with the latest medical knowledge, technologies and procedures and hence we will continue to invest in our human healthcare capital to groom them into better healthcare professionals. The focus will be on e-learning utilizing established digital education platforms that will help our employees to learn on-demand and at their own convenience. Collaborative learning initiatives will be driven digitally across associate institutions like Kalsekar Trust, Kalsekar Girls Degree College, Kalsekar Polytechnic and Pharos Educational Trust to increase learning opportunities within the Group.
Today, the need of the hour is to adopt virtual, innovative health management tools and services with the capability to serve and support more patients at home. This entails taking much-needed steps in 2021 toward digitization of medical services; realizing that the health system of the future will be patient-centric, care-oriented, and digitally connected. With this aim, we at Kalsekar Hospitals, would be reviewing all available digital technology aids on offer with the aim of adopting them to bring about a positive change in the way we care for our patients, working with the weaker sections of society and employing cost-effective digital methods to provide them with quality and affordable healthcare in the times ahead.