➣ By Lingjun Kong
India’s healthcare industry has been experiencing tremendous growth and is expected to be a major component of the country’s economy. Due to factors such as the increasing accessibility to health insurance, the growing senior population, and the influx of people from overseas seeking worldclass quality of medical treatments at affordable rates, India’s healthcare, currently estimated at $37.5 billion in 2008 according to a Technopak Advisors’ report, is expected to grow by a factor of two over the next year, and a factor of 10 by 2022. However, the rapid economic growth in the healthcare industry has left little time for the industry to upgrade its system to the proper standards, especially in emergency and accident-related trauma care. Nearly 20% of all emergency hospital cases in India are associated with trauma, making it the ninth leading cause of death. By 2020, it is estimated that trauma will move to the third leading cause of death.
There is a great need for a well-developed emergency care system in India. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, landslides, and floods, as well as manmade mishaps such as road accidents and industrial injuries, put great pressure on the hospitals. India has not yet developed a uniform hospital emergency phone line due to the various levels of government, corporate, and personally owned clinics across the country. Those in rural environments are usually unable to obtain the basic care available in the urban facilities, and those in urban facilities are unable to access specialized care which is only available in major cities.
In addition to the lack of formal regulations for trauma care procedures, most hospital personnel are not equipped with the education and training to properly care for trauma victims. In 2005, only 4% of paramedics had formal training, many of whom worked for private hospitals. One-third of the country’s ambulances are used solely for inter-hospital transportation purposes and only half have the ability and equipment for providing airway support and splintage. Thirty-percent of emergency patients in India die before even reaching a hospital. The need to improve the training infrastructure and educational exposure of India’s healthcare personnel is urgent.
Fortunately, the investment opportunities in India’s healthcare industry are strengthening trauma care to raise it to the proper standards. Many educational programs have been established to improve the skills of India’s healthcare personnel. One prime model is the SRM/STRATUS Centre for Medical Simulation of SRM University, a medical center that collaborates with the Neil and Elise Wallace STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation of Harvard Medical School to bring cutting-edge simulation programs to train India’s medical personnel. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, the SRM Centre is a highly advanced educational facility that provides training for medical professionals through reality-based patient care simulations. One program offered at the center, Laerdal’s SimMan, is a high-fidelity simulator that can be physiologically monitored, defibrillated, and administered medications, among other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. The center has an Operation Theatre that mimics an operation room for surgeons- in-training. For practicing non-invasive surgery techniques, clinicians can attend to the Arcade Room. The Partial- Task Room allows students to learn essential skills such as IV cannulation, airway management, and central lines.
Among the programs offered at the SRM Centre, such as Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support, the Basic and Advanced Trauma Life Support programs will have a large impact on India’s healthcare quality. These programs familiarize medical professionals with the equipment used in trauma care, both in-hospital and in the field. In the basic training program, essential skills such as intubation, chest tube insertion, cricothyroidotomy, and Focused Assessment through Sonography in Trauma examinations are taught. In the advanced program, the students learn triage and trauma safety, shock management, airway and ventilator management, system- specific trauma care, and resuscitation and initial stabilization of trauma victims.
As shown through the SRM/STRATUS Centre, trauma care in India is already undergoing improvement efforts. To sustain this improvement, two key changes must occur. The first is the acknowledgement of and commitment to the need for policy reform of the healthcare system and the establishment of unified trauma systems. The second is a continuous stream of funding for the advancement of the quality of trauma care. With these needs met, the people of India, as well as visitors and those traveling to undergo medical procedures, will greatly benefit in the future.
Lingjun Kong, PMP
Virtual Reality Medical Center
President of Virtual Reality Medical Institute (VRMI) in Brussels, Belgium. Executive VP Virtual Reality Medical Center (VRMC), based in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. CEO of Interactive Media Institute a 501c3 non-profit Clinical Instructor in Department of Psychiatry at UCSD Founder of CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy, & Social Networking Conference Visiting Professor at Catholic University Milan.