Mumbai: Leading healthcare facilities and hospital chains are offering flexible working options todoctorsin order to attract more talent, at a time when there is a shortage of medical practitioners amid increasing patient visitation and rising non-Covid workload.
Healthcare andMax Healthcareare among those who are introducing various flexible working options for doctors including work-from-home options for certain specialities in a bid to attract and retain doctors and patients, and decongest hospitals.
The hospitals are working on a bunch of new flexible working models, to be rolled out over the next few months.
“There is a huge dearth of medical talent in the country and WFH can really help the medical field,” Apollo Hospitals HR head SV Kiran said.
Even after things open up, a lot of specialties in radiology, lab, endocrinology, preventive healthcare, palliative healthcare and chronic diseases can be shifted to remote work options, said Kiran, who is working on a plan to offer an array of flexible options to doctors. Even for other specialist doctors, there will be a hybrid model of part work from hospital and part from home.
A combination of reasons is prompting the healthcare chains to offer flexibility to doctors. Top executives of the hospitals said this would enable them to tap into a hitherto not accessed talent pool of young doctors who want to simultaneously pursue their studies and did not want to waste time in the daily commute, female doctors who did not join the hospitals due to family responsibilities and many general practitioners.
Doctors have adapted very fast to technology post-Covid and many of them would prefer working remotely, said experts.
“We have the technology to do this. It is convenient and safe for doctors and patients and offers better capacity utilisation to hospitals,” Kiran added.
For specialities like orthopaedic, neurosurgery, cardiology, and others – that require physical presence – certain follow-on examinations can also be done remotely.
“We are going to roll out a work from home option for a certain cohort of doctors in the next 2-3 months,” said Max Healthcare’s chief people officer, Umesh Gupta. “Initially the WFH option will be for junior doctors and going ahead we will also come up with various flexible options for senior doctors too,” he said.
Industry experts said until the pandemic started, many doctors were not comfortable with remote working. However, in the last few months more and more of them want a remote working option, while the hospitals have been aggressively working on digitising various processes as they are faced with a huge shortage of qualified doctors.
According to data from Freshersworld.com, a part of Teamlease Services, every month there are 6,000-8,000 vacancies for doctors, of which 1,400-1,500 are for WFH profiles across hospitals and healthcare platforms. The demand is for MBBS doctors with up to three years’ experience, or those with MDs.
“Nearly 20% of the vacancies for doctors on our platform are for WFH roles. The demand is from across large cities and smaller towns. General medicine, infectious diseases and psychiatry count for highest demand,” said Kaushik Banerjee, vice president and business head of Freshersworld.com and Teamlease.com. “There are many young doctors who have been looking for remote options. It is also cost effective for the hospitals as the number of consultations that can be done online are much more,” he said.
These measures are taken by hospital chains after analysing feedback from patients – many of whom find remote consultation to be a convenient option. It is also important for doctors’ safety, they can consult more patients and it is good for the hospital too as these measures can decongest OPDs and they can have better capacity utilisation.
“At the moment a lot of our doctors have a dedicated tele-consultation time which they can do from their homes. Going ahead we will make this more structured. This could also include remote working. For instance, the days a doctor does not have OPD he can work from home,” said Bishnu Panigrahi, group head, medical strategy and operations, Fortis Healthcare.