Miracles do happen. Don’t believe me? Ask that boy whose eyes would finally be able to see how the face of his mother is much more beautiful than even that angelic face that he had always imagined while listening to the lullabies she sang for him or how his cricketing hero actually looks like or how his kingdom of sand – that the world calls as a playground - actually bore the signs of his footsteps or how the faces of his friends, who cheered for him for being specially-abled or who dissed him for his disability, change expressions on seeing him again. Now, here is a question for all the B-School students who are taught to derive the equivalent clink of coin-sound for all human emotions, day-in and day-out or for all the professionals who have grown up taking pride in putting a dollar tag on every single sentiment on this earth. Can you put a price tag on this miracle? How much would you be ready to invest if you could make this miracle a mundane reality for millions and millions of people in India? Can you be stoic enough emotionally to discard this proposal by taking help of an equally heartless financial jargon of profit-margins and return on capital employed? Or would you take a step forward and approach this problem the right way rather than the easy way. Arvind Eye Hospitals, since their inception, have proven time and again, year-after-year, that a business that deals in miracles like this can be self-sustainable - if you have the right sentiments, intentions, vision and the sincerity to cater to the base of the pyramid, which because of its sheer volume, in a country like India can prove to be a self-dependent and autonomous business model. Put yourself in the shoes of the patients just for a moment, and you’ll understand how it can prove to be an economically viable model with a focus on intangible benefits rather than the tangible ones. Imagine a hypothetical case of Laxmi, who lives in Tangachi Mattam, a village forty kilometers away from Madurai, who decides to bring in her 10-year-old, bespectacled son Vishnu, to be examined at the centre this Saturday when he complained of irritation in his left eye. Ordinarily, it would have taken them a whole day to go to Madurai by bus and back, not to mention the cost of Rs 200 round trip. If the vision centre develops in every city, the consultation with the Doctor cost them Rs 20 – at less than the price of a coffee cup in a hip café, one little boy’s eyes can finally return to his school books.
The model certainly can be emulated if the businessmen can abandon their perennial thirst for endless money for this cause and concentrate more on the intangible benefits of this exercise rather than tangible ones. But the question is how?
Part-I – How ?
If we look at the current status of blindness in India, about 90% of blindness is relatively easily treatable and cataract remains a major cause of blindness. Our annual cataract surgical rate is about 3.5 million but the current levels of cataract surgery are far below the number required to clear the existing backlog, besides taking care of incidence. There is an urgent need to perform more cataract surgeries every year. If we look at the current service delivery pattern, the Government does about 25%, NGOs and voluntary organization 41.2% and private 33.8%. There is also an increasing shift towards IOL surgery. The increasing need in the community for eye care services combined with poor utilization of existing resources indicate a strong need for organizational development aimed at such eye care providers. One major need is to better equip these institutions to deal with the burden of blindness, to aid in the transition towards IOL surgery & other standard procedures, to standardize duality of eye care provided by them, to promote cost effective practices for self-sustainability and finally to help the hospital leadership to articulate a well defined vision and goal for their hospital. Based on...