By Kamanthi Wickramasinghe
Browns Hospital Ragama is the latest venture of Brown & Company PLC and the first in a chain of secondary care general hospitals and diagnostic centres aimed at delivering high quality care through comprehensive, integrated clinical practice and personalized care, to every patient.
In an exclusive interview with Mirror Business, Dr. Sajeeva Narangoda, Director/CEO, Browns Hospitals shared his views on the current progress of the hospital, about the healthcare industry and future plans.
Give a brief introduction about the hospital.
Browns group has a history of 140 years and the healthcare sector was started just 3 years ago.
We are a highly diversified group, and we saw that there are many synergies within the group that we can tap through healthcare.
We acquired a small hospital in Ragama 2 years ago and expanded it into a fully-fledged secondary care General Hospital with 70 beds and incorporated innovative and advanced medical technologies. Also we found that the healthcare sector would ideally complement some of our core sectors such as financial services & leisure.
What are the special facilities offered in this hospital?
There are over 100 consultant doctors working in our hospital. We are very strong in our emergency care services and we have state-of-the-art operating theatres, Intensive Care Units and Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
We always strive to use the best available medical technologies in CT/MRI scanning and Laparoscopic surgeries. Also I must mention the fantastic infrastructure we have, which allows us to maintain superior level of infection control.
How has the progress been within the past 8 months?
It has been very good and there have been many instances that we were almost full in occupancy. We are very encouraged and pleased by the acceptance of people in the Gampaha district.
One of the positive challenges was that from day one we had emergency cases arriving at our hospital. In other words, it is a testament to the fact that people trusted us with medical emergencies; which is a good sign.
There is a huge competition within the private sector when it comes to healthcare. How do you see it?
Healthy competition is always good. We constantly push for more regulations in the industry and we want to play on a level playing field. With competition from other hospitals, it enables us to learn from each other. The end result; better healthcare and a healthier and happier nation.
When it comes to healthcare in private hospitals one of the main obstacles is the cost factor. What strategies have been implemented to even out these expenses?
We do not believe in large tertiary care hospitals. That is one way of cutting down costs. So our capital expenditure is low but at the end of the day we have invested heavily in medical technology. But we still believe that this particular hospital model will carry out cost optimizations and savings.
We have designed the hospital with this in mind. For example, using energy efficient fittings, user friendly infrastructure etc., contributes to cost savings for patients.
So far we can confidently state that we are on average 20 to 30 percent cheaper than our competitors. I would like to point out that we are very open about our prices in our leaflets and other modes of communications. We have communicated the full spectrum of pricing to our patients, and always provide comprehensive detailed bills to our patients.
How has this hospital contributed to eradicate or stay away from the pharmaceuticals mafia?
We have a Drug and Therapeutic committee in the hospital. Some of the senior physicians advise us on selecting our formulae for our pharmacies.
We adhere to a system whereby we stock one generic type plus 2 branded of relevant products. This has worked well for us thus far. We openly communicate with our patients from time to time and so do our consultants with patients and provide them with options of brands to choose from.
What qualifications are required for the staff?
Nursing staff is the biggest challenge we have faced so far. There is a massive shortage of privately qualified nurses in this country.
We are hoping to work very closely with the new government and the new Minister of Health and develop a system where all privately qualified nurses are registered. We have been very fortunate however, with sourcing good doctors. Currently there are over 100 consultant specialists practicing in our hospital.
What are the future expansion plans?
We have identified 3-4 cities out of Colombo where we could potentially establish our next hospital. Expansion operations will begin breaking ground within the next 3 months.
Our long term vision and goal is to have at least 4 hospitals in operation by the year 2018.
We have at the moment, a fully-fledged modern medical laboratory functioning in our hospital. We want to replicate that same model across the country and for that we will implement and follow a national plan.