Patient-Doctor Ratio in India
The ideal patient-doctor ratio recommended by the WHO is 1000:1 and India can achieve this only by 2024. The Indian healthcare industry is progressing by leaps and bounds with 2500 hospitals to be set up in the next 5 years. Yet on the downside, 600 million people in rural areas have no access to healthcare. In cities, healthcare units struggle to maintain hospital patient satisfaction due to the quick turnover of doctors and specialists and poor patient-doctor relationship.
In view of all this, it is wise to conclude that hospital patient retention depends on not only the clinical expertise of the hospital service but also on the patient-doctor relationship and low churn rate of doctors. The only way to forge a strong patient-doctor relationship is to enlist the services of a trusted healthcare consulting firm who can suggest some useful pointers like the one given below.
Ways to improve patient-doctor ratio in a hospital
- Assess the patient volume
The patient volume is the key indicator of the patient-doctor ratio and also determines the quality of the patient-doctor relationship in a hospital. In order to have an optimum patient-doctor ratio, every hospital must evaluate its patient volume.
The number of patients admitted decides on the number of physicians needed for the hospital. But the number of patients discharged help to keep this number within limits. The severity of the patient’s condition also decides how much time a physician has to attend to him /her and this in turn affects the patient-doctor ratio. Apart from this, there is a seasonal surge in the demand for more physician during the monsoon or winter month when the infections are more widespread. All these factors together help in determining the ideal number of physicians needed for the hospital and help in maintaining the right patient-doctor ratio.
- Employ experienced physicians
Several hospitals employ a large number of medical students, trainees and interns hoping to meet their staffing needs for physicians. But they fail to realize that inexperienced medical personnel take a longer time to diagnose or treat patient than an experienced one. Experienced doctors can handle several patients within a day, quickly and efficiently. This clearly has a bearing on the patient-doctor ratio as a greater number of patients can be allotted to a senior doctor to increase the hospital’s efficiency thereby increasing the hospital patient retention.
- Implement pre-screening of patients by non-medical staff or by medical interns
At hospitals, a lot of time is spent by physicians on checking the vital parameters of patients and hearing their ailment. If pre-screening of patients with checking their vital signs and recording their health complaints can be done by non-medical but clinically trained staff or medical interns, a lot of time can be saved for experienced doctors. This time can be utilized in seeing more patients and directly improves the patient-doctor ratio. Due to quicker clinical service, hospital patient retention also increases.
- Enlisting physicians on seasonal or need basis
In order to meet the seasonal demand for physicians, hospitals can consider enlisting physicians on a makeshift or requirement basis. This will not only help the hospital to bring the patient-doctor ratio to an optimum level but will also be light on the hospital overheads. Senior surgeons and specialists can be called for, during emergencies or severe cases while intern can be used to meet the normal influx of patients.
- Use technology to augment patient-doctor relationship and ratio
Technology can act as a powerful tool in maintaining an ideal patient-doctor ratio and in improving the patient-doctor relationship. The use of EMR reduces the time for patient screening while the use of telemedicine helps in attending to the patients even at remote locations. Every hospital must make the ideal use of technology to attain maximum hospital patient satisfaction and hospital patient retention.
Both hospital patient satisfaction and hospital patient retention depend mainly on the patient-doctor ratio in a hospital. A premium hospital always tries to optimize this patient-doctor ratio by implementing the suggestions of a competent healthcare consulting firm to achieve success.