Teamwork in private medical practice – India

"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

Healthcare delivery should be all about teamwork! Though physicians play a crucial role in clinical decision-making, it’s the nurses and paramedics that actually implement the decisions by providing care in the inpatient settings. The pathologists, radiologists and physical therapists involved as well have an equally important role to contribute to reaching the goals of treatment. That being said, operating rooms and intensive care units are ideal environments for displaying seamless teamwork!

In private practice, the scenario is completely different from that of government healthcare centers. Most of the time, the physician is the lone warrior in his or her clinic with one or two non-clinical staff at their mercy. In India, healthcare is mostly private, and we see patients queuing up at private clinics and hospital OPDs. Government healthcare centers are still not very patient-friendly (1).

Existing Scenarios

Physicians’ practices show marked variation in patterns of delivery and quality (2). There are standalone clinics run by primary care physicians, or "general practioners" as they are commonly addressed, and specialists who have two settings - hospital (inpatient and outpatient), as well as the private clinics.

It is very common to see that 4-5 doctors of the same specialty have different amounts of patient turnover. There are "high-volume practioners" with a high patient turnover. I know of specialists in my city examining patients at 11pm in their clinics, due to the large number of patients. Such scenarios are definitely neither physician-friendly, nor patient-friendly. Patients have to wait for a month for a follow-up appointment with some specialists. I had heard about this happening in the UK’s NHS and the USA, but this scenario has become very common in India, too.

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