Jagruthi Yatra - Day 4 - Madurai.

Coming to know about Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy is one of the most humbling and inspiring experience I have ever had for quite sometime. Being in his home state I felt ashamed to have not known about this great man’s work and his mission in elimination needless blindness.

Visit to Madurai was one of the best days of the Yatra till now. Apart from the fact that I got jigirthanda to drink and had the chance to meet two of my favourite people balaji with whom I work with in chennai and sai keerthi who will always remain close to my heart for no reason whatsoever I also got to live and experience the spirit of Arvind eye care and was able to witness it first hand.

Gyanasekran HR manager who took our group around to Dr. Arvind who gave the talk to the documentary on Dr.V everyone were so humble and modest that their warmth could be really felt in our heart. Have never seen a head of a institution welcoming visitors at the gate with folded hands. There were no words to describe when I heard the word VANAKKAM.

Coming to the amazing work that Arvind does in this field we were shocked by the magnanimity of the problem at hand. Only 10 percent of all the people who need treatment for blindness related issues has been reached till now and the industry and the market in itself is huge and its one of the rarest institution that I found to have it in their agenda to PROMOTE competition.

1. Arvind eye care follows a unique delivery system that comes under 3 broad strands.

a.A free medical service for anyone who walks in the free facility.( Cost of cataract service: FREE )
b. A subsidized medical service for anyone who walks in the subsidized facility.( Cost of cataract service: Rs 850 )
c. A normal paid facility. ( Cost of cataract service: Rs. 7000 )

The highlights of this delivery system is that Arvind dosent differentiate customers based on their economic background.

 Its completely upon the patient to walk in wherever they want to. And the paid service still is competitive price in the markets.

There is NO difference in the quality of the medical service offered. Only difference will be in the amenities that the patient gets. Doctors and paramedic are rotated between these three facilities in periodic basis. Despite this they still make lot of profits.

2. They have designed the system for NON customers as well. Add to which most of their services are localised which is helpful for the patients as well as the hospitals. For the people who don’t or can’t afford to spend their time and money to come to the facility, Arvind has two main outreach program.
a. Community centers at remote locations where most of the services are localised and upon remote consultation through video conferencing. Only when surgery is required is the patient required to come to the main center in the city.
b. Community outreach camps over weekends to identify, treat patients. Arvind takes care of transport, food and treatment of the patient if they need a surgery and the whole process gets over in 1 day and a over night stay so that there is no time delays.

3. 85% workforce are women. Its a one of a kind thing. They are trained and are expected to be with them for 4 years. Every year they recruit around 500 women , train them. The focus in recruiting people is to see their value system, morals and attitude and check if they are humble enough. Since the local women are being recruited as para medics there is a community bonding as well as jobs to women thereby improving livelihoods.

4. They have perfected the process such that the number of surgeries and the patients attended to are far greater than the normal system in other countries. Nearly 300% more efficient. They do this by training the para medics to do procedures that are less important and make the doctors to the priority procedures. There are many other minor tweaks which has resulted in improving the efficiency vastly. If you study the model you can know more about it.

5. The other single MOST IMPORTANT contribution of Dr. V and arvind eye care is the creation of Aurolabs. When Dr.V found that, the cost of introlocular lenses was 100$ and none of the manufacturers are ready to reduce the price though it can be bought down, he decided to manufacture the lenses locally. After the creation of Aurolabs the prices of lenses came down to 5$ from more then 100$ overnight. This changed the eye care industry totally.

6. They develop their ERP system and all their applications in-house . This helps them to develop according to their needs. They also sell these applications and systems to other developing and third world countries at a subsidized cost. I was amazed to know the price of their ERP softwares. I couldn’t believe a health care applications could cost this cheap. In house decolopment has made life easy and has improved efficiency as well.

7. Promoting competition: They have a development center where they consult and give help to other eye care service providers across India and from other countries to improve efficiency and process thereby increasing the quality and the reach the hospitals have which results in increased profits as well. The beauty is they do this consultation free of cost to their competitors and other providers in the world so that they are nearing their vision of eliminating needless blindness.

We saw a documentary about Dr V which left everyone in the audience having goosebumps and also a video song about madurai which the audience were excited about. Everyone after lunch went for the hospital visits and then to. Visit the temple while I spent some quality time with my friends.

I recommend everyone to see the documentary about Dr. Or Govindappa Venkataswamy. I left feeling proud to hail from the same state as he was and with so many thoughts and emotions about the life and vision of this great man.

He has built an institution that benefits not only the current generation, but many generations down the line could be benefited from. Its fitting that he hails from the land of Madurai the city where Meenakshi Amman temple is located which was build over ten generations by great kings. Built over ten generations those rulers created something that generations after are enjoying the reaps of it. Leaving you guys with two quotes:

Dr. Arvind : "Success is what happens to you. Significance is what happens through you"

Dr. V: " When we grow in spiritual consciousness, we identify ourselves with all that is in the world and there is no exploitation. Its ourselves we are helping. Its ourselves we are healing".

:)