Episode 7: India’s top doctor has a message for American healthcare

Welcome to Season Two of Fixing Healthcare. In this eye-opening episode, Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr welcome Dr. Devi Shetty, India’s leading heart surgeon and founder of Narayana Health, which offers world-class cardiac surgery for as little as $1,200 a case with clinical outcomes that rival the best in the world.

READ: Full transcript of our discussion with Dr. Devi Shetty

In a departure from Season One, guests of the show will no longer vie for the fictitious role of “Leader of American Healthcare.” Instead, experts from outside the mainstream of American healthcare will assist with the toughest task of all: figuring out how to translate disruptive-change theories into real-life solutions.

Dr. Shetty proved to be the perfect guest to usher in the show’s new format and focus. Here’s a small sampling of his more memorable quotes:

On the rising cost of healthcare

If the solution is not affordable, it is not a solution. There is no point in me talking about all the advances in heart care or cancer care if 90% of the world’s population cannot afford it. I did my first heart surgery in Kolkata (India) and the patient paid $2,000 for the heart surgery. Thirty years later, we’re doing the same heart surgery for $1,200. Tell me another example of costs coming down in healthcare over the past 30 years.

On improving healthcare’s information technologies

We have to get the electronic medical records designed for the mobile phone. Today all the billion-dollar electronic medical records you are using in the United States, they’re all designed for the desktop … What you have to realize (is) that doctors look at the desktop only five to 10 times in a day. But doctors look at their mobile phone 200 times in a day.

On the price of a human life

Most of my patients are little kids, sitting on a mother’s lap. I examine that kid then I tell the mother that her baby has a hole in the heart and she needs to go for an open heart surgery … (The mother) has only one question, “How much it is going to cost?” If I tell her that the heart surgery on her kid costs $800, which she doesn’t have, that is a price tag on that kid’s life. She comes up with $800, I can save her kid. If she doesn’t have $800, she’s going to lose the child. This is what I do from morning ‘til evening, putting price tag on human life. This is what every doctor living in developing countries do from morning ‘til evening, putting price tag on human life. This is totally unacceptable. This can’t go on.

On providing mission-driven care

Typically, when a new hospital starts by a traditional corporate entity, the CEO of the group will address all the employees and the doctors. He would end the speech saying that, “This is a hospital we have built for the rich people but we have an obligation. We also take care of poor people.” Whereas me or one of my colleagues … commissioning a hospital, we tell our employees that we have built this hospital primarily for the poor people, but we also take care of the rich people. That dramatically changes your attitude.

On Health City in the Cayman Islands, Dr. Shetty’s new, world-class facility, just 1-hour by plane from Miami

My message to Americans physicians is to visit our Health City in Cayman Islands and experience it themselves. Be our guests and see how the hospital runs.

* * *

Fixing Healthcare is a co-production of Dr. Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr. Subscribe to the show via Apple Podcasts or wherever you find podcasts. Join the conversation or suggest a guest by following the show on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Comments are closed.