Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ECHS: Bureaucratic hurdles sans Automation- Veterans health a Casualty

Letter to MD ECHS
From: vinay shankar
Date: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 6:13 PM
Subject: ECHS issues

Dear Gen,
I sent an sms expressing my desire to talk to you. Since I did not receive any response I am sending this mail. I have for a variety of reasons been a reluctant user of the ECHS facilities. However a few months ago I decided that since this is a entitled facility I am being foolish by not availing of the ECHS. In this context I wish to share my two recent experiences:
  • First Experience
    My wife was admitted in the RR at about midday last week. The consulting physician wanted an urgent CT scan done on her. Since this facility was not available with the RR and it would take about 2-3 days to get a slot at the Base Hospital I was advised to go down to the ECHS office located within the RR premises. Met the OC of the ECHS. He saw my ECHS card and said that I would have to go to the Gurgaon Polyclinic since that was my dependency. I pointed out that if I were to go to Gurgaon at that time by the time I reached the ECHS timings would be over. He then telephoned the OC of the Base Hospital ECHS and requested him to do the needful. I reached the Base Hospital ECHS by about 1345h. Had to wait for the lunch break to be over. Managed to meet the OC by about 1405h. He immediately ordered his staff to do the necessary paper work. Must concede it was done in quick time and an ambulance from the clinic where I was supposed to go was also arranged. The place was Star Diagnostics in Tilak Nagar. The OCs staff also advised me to carry the complete case sheet in addition to the Form that they had provided. Later when I was on my way to the RR I looked at the Referral Form that the ECHS had given me. It curiously had a stamp to indicate that the choice of Star Diagnostics was mine. You can draw your own inference on this. At no time was I given options from which I could choose. When taking my wife from the RR I asked the Duty NO for my wife's case sheet. She firmly indicated that that was not required and the Polyclinic form would be enough. At the Star Clinic the moment the receptionist was handed over the ECHS form her attitude became somewhat discourteous. She asked for the case sheet and when I said that I do not have it she responded to say that then the test cannot be done. After about half an hour's telephonic back and forth she agreed to the test provided I committed to bringing the case sheet when we went to collect the report. I again responded that I will bring it if the hospital authorities agree to giving me the case sheet. Altogether we found the attitude of all the staff at the Star Clinic that gave one the feeling of being talked down to, as if every one was doing you a favour. Again before going to collect the report we asked for the case sheet. As expected that was declined. Consequently after a fair amount of haggling and complaining we managed to obtain the report. To say the least the experience was quite harrowing.
  • The Second Experience
    In May I had gone to the ECHS to get a referral to have my eyes checked for cataract. I was given the form for Eye Q Hospital at Gurgaon. Again without being offered options. Due to various commitments I could not visit the Eye Hospital since then. This morning when I went to the hospital I was told that the validity of the referral is only for a week and that I will have to obtain a fresh one. From the Eye Hospital I went down the office of the OC ECHS Gurgaon. Entered his office wished him 'good morning and then sat down. The OC did not deign to acknowledge my greetings. After his staff left the office he turned to me with an inquiring look. I placed the referral papers in front of him and pointed out that though the form does not any where indicate a time limit the Hospital had declined to accept the form. He aggressively asked why had I not gone immediately after obtaining the referral. I explained that some unexpected commitments had cropped so I could not go and also pointed out that the stipulation of one week should have been pointed out to me. Now he rudely responded to say that it was my responsibility to have found out. Before leaving his office I also pointed out that he could consider responding to greetings from visitors since he had not acknowledged my 'good morning'. He did not take that well either. I fully understand the complexity and the challenges of running this organisation. Yet I believe it is my duty to bring to your notice what users experience.
    With regards,
    LT Gen (retd) Vinay Shankar
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