As we realise the need for building a resilient healthcare system; our healthcare industry is leapfrogging towards digitalisation, digital technology is evolving and making our healthcare smarter by the day. Apollo hospitals have taken a big step towards augmenting India’s critical treatment facilities and creating capability for high end critical care by launching digital tech enabled Critical Care Units (CCUs) having standard protocols and operating procedures (SOPs) supported by smart solutions.
Apollo Hospitals launched the Apollo Centre of Excellence in Critical Care (ACECC) to create an integrated network of eICUs to provide critical care not just across the Apollo Hospitals network but also in partnership with non-Apollo units in India and abroad. The ACECC will enable wider and timely access to critical care and help in implementing a standardised scope of management and treatment in emergencies and critical medical situations.
Apollo Hospitals is currently the largest critical care provider in India with over 25% of its in-patient bed capacity designated for critical care. Critical care, also referred to as Intensive care, deals with critically-ill patients who require intensive care for various medical conditions that are immediately life-threatening but reversible.
Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “Critical illness leads to millions of deaths each year. However, critical care faces challenges due to factors such as lack of prioritisation, coordination, timely identification and availability of basic life-saving treatments. At Apollo Hospitals, we have the vision, expertise and ability to transform critical care for India and beyond through excellence in outcomes in an evidence based cost effective manner. The Apollo Centre of Excellence in Critical Care will be instrumental in turning this vision into reality.”
The ACECC will comprise digital technology enabled Critical Care Units (CCUs) having standard protocols and operating procedures (SOPs) supported by smart solutions. This will enable expansion of the critical care network through e-ICUs using Tele-health and Apollo Connect. The ACECC will also focus on evidence-based protocols, training, and capacity building of critical care specialists.
Preetha Reddy, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “The COVID pandemic highlighted the challenges faced by the country with regard to its critical care infrastructure. Studies have indicated that India has just 2.3 critical care beds per 100,000 population as against 10 to 11 beds per 100,000 population in developed countries like South Korea and Singapore. The pandemic brought to the fore the need for augmenting India’s critical treatment facilities and creating capability for high end critical care. The ACECC will be based on a network of hub-and-spokes units between Apollo and non-Apollo providers, both public and private, to ensure that every citizen has access to the best of critical care when needed.”
Critical care is delivered by critical care specialists, who are also referred to as intensivists. An intensivist is specially trained to manage the broad range of conditions that are commonly found in critically ill patients. They also need to be aware of the various procedures and devices used in an intensive care setting, and the technology that powers it. They will also collaborate with other specialities that are relevant to individual cases.
Suneeta Reddy, Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “Critical care in the country today faces multiple challenges ranging from lack of trained staff and equipment and a lower priority given to emergency and critical care as compared to other specialities. The ACECC will enable quality critical care with a reduction in morbidity and mortality by encompassing the entire gamut of critical care backed by appropriate training of healthcare professionals. Integrated education and training through Medvarsity will ensure up-to-date clinical knowledge for the healthcare physicians and staff. International partnerships will create an environment for excellence in clinical standards, education, research and support.”
Dr Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “There was tremendous pressure on critical care during COVID-19 surge, but resilience and undiluted commitment of the intensivists ensured delivery of care of the highest standards given the circumstances. ACECC will oversee an integrated critical care network, leveraging our collective strength across the group, and will ensure that we take the speciality to a different level not only in the country but also build a global model for the same.”
Dr. K. Hari Prasad, President, Hospitals Division, Apollo Hospitals Enterprises said, “The country faces a resource mismatch with 80% of physicians working in urban areas and 70% of the population residing in remote locations. The ACECC will help in overcoming variability in expertise and critical care delivery and provide smart solutions to the national shortage of critical care experts.”
Critically ill patients present with a different set of challenges from in-patients in other specialities. They require constant monitoring, care and support, which makes the role of critical care vital to the patient’s health. A patient in a critical care unit has an entire team of specialised physicians, nurses, and other medical staff to look after every need.
Professor Ravi Mahajan, Director, Critical Care Integration and Transformation, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “The launch of the Centre heralds furthering Apollo’s ambition to make high quality, affordable Critical Care expertise available even to the remotest parts of India. It will be a focal point for national networks and international collaborations achieving excellence through standard setting, developing protocols, quality improvement programmes, education and research”
While talking about the accessibility and affordability aspect of E-ICUs, a spokesperson from Apollo Hospitals said, “Through this initiative, critical care will be provided in tier-2 and rural areas where access to critical care is non-existent. The cost will be much lower than a patient travelling to a large hospital in a city for these services. Apart from lower medical costs, logistic costs like travel and loss of daily earnings of the family will be saved.”
Talking about training of the staff, the spokesperson said, “The local hospital staff will be trained using our training platforms first to work with our command centres and then further enhance their skills to handle some of the cases themselves and gradually become self-sufficient. The specialists will monitor, advise and guide treatment of a patient in a remote area. ACECC is currently connected with 500 beds through one hub in Hyderabad. With the launch of Chennai and Madurai hubs in a week another 500 beds will be added. The goal is to connect 10000 beds over a period of one year.”