Our customers are the people leading the change in healthcare today. They are inquisitive, proactive, and resourceful. They take charge of their health and the health of those around them. They question and probe and don’t take things at face value. We have been inspired by their stories and feel compelled to share them with the world. The second in our series of Stories is here!
Meet Gayathri Ramaseri, a recent MBBS graduate from MNR College, Medak. We have had the pleasure of knowing Gayathri since November 2013.
Recently, we got to meet her entire family. She lives in Secunderabad with her parents– M.G Ramachandran, a retired Mathematics lecturer and Poornima, headmistress of a local school– and her brother Abhishek, who now works with TCS.
Gayathri’s first experience with DoctorC dates back to November 2013, when her father needed to get an MRI scan. That was the first major investigation they had to undergo in their family. She didn’t know much about MRI scans so she started looking online and chanced upon DoctorC. At first, she was very doubtful, but she was convinced by the confidence instilled by one of our Customer Advisors.
“We Indians tend to think that what is more costly is more reliable. We don’t doubt the efficacy of existing or established brands that might be more expensive,“ she said, looking back at her thought process.
Once she got the films of the MRI scan, she took them to a professor at her medical college for a second opinion, and was satisfied entirely only when he said that the images were of good quality. You may call that being cautious — I think of it as her being informed and prudent.
After that episode, Gayathri dealt with uncertainty again with great prudence and perseverance recently when her brother got hospitalised for 14 days. It was shocking and eye-opening for her in many ways– her first experience with a corporate hospital.
Abhishek was admitted to a shared room first, and then moved to a high dependency unit (which was closer to the ICU), and within a day he was asked to move to the ICU. Wary that this was in the commercial interest of the hospital, Gayathri probed and checked with doctors outside the hospital and with their counsel, insisted that they didn’t want to be moved to the ICU.
Fortunately, Abhishek’s insurance provider covered most of his hospital bill, but this was only after relentless follow up— Gayathri checked with the billing department everyday to see what they needed to be prepared for. They even prepared for the worst, which would have been to pay out of pocket. When they finally saw the bill, they saw that more than 50% of the cost went into investigations- a simple test like a CBP (Complete Blood Picture) was broken down into 10 sub-tests, each with a price of Rs 100 or more.
"Most people don’t know how they’re being fleeced. Even if they have the guts to ask, they’re not always provided information,“ said Gayathri. There was a girl in their shared room who was was diagnosed with typhoid after spending a whole day in the ICU- which their family didn’t question. They were under the impression that doctors were going to take care of it, but no one did.
“People should stop believing things blindly. A lot of people think that once they go to a hospital, things will be taken care of. That mindset should change. These are investigations being performed on your own body— you have a right to know about it, you have a right to ask.”
"I befriended the duty doctor immediately, so she showed me the reports of investigations when I asked for them. But our neighbour in the shared room, the girl who was diagnosed with typhoid— they didn’t show her any reports even when they asked for it.”
“We didn’t keep quiet in the hospital. Our minds were running,” said Abhishek. Everyday, Abhishek and Gayathri would strategise on how to negotiate with the insurance provider. Abhishek rightly points out that most people don’t know what to ask or what their rights are.
“Patient awareness is lacking. The first step is to provide knowledge. People will then start to question.”
When I met this family, I couldn’t help but think of a social gadfly. A gadfly is a person who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions. And I say that in the best way possible. While that term has a negative connotation, I truly believe that we need more gadflies for things to change. We need more people to step up and ask.
The change begins with people like the Ramaseris, who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves. And that is absolutely inspirational for us at DoctorC. We are proud to serve people like Gayathri and her family.