Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Dream Worth Aspiring

Dr. Tabish discuss global standards for delivering quality healthcare. But is that possible in Kashmir?

(Professor Syed Amin Tabish, 50, was born in Srinagar. He graduated from Government Medical College Srinagar, and did his postgraduation from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He obtained doctoral and postdoctoral degrees from the University of Bristol (England), the Royal College of Physicians of London, and the American College of Physicians (USA). Dr. Tabish has been providing academic and administrative leadership to premier medical universities and hospitals, and recently worked as Professor of Medical Education cum Project Director for four Medical Colleges & two University Hospitals, and advised other medical and nursing colleges in Saudi Arabia. He is presently working as Medical Director cum Head, Department of Hospital Administration and Chairman Accident & Emergency Department at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar. He is also an External Examiner, AIIMS, and National Board of Examinations for the award of Diplomat National Board, New Delhi. Professor Tabish has authored more than a dozen medical and hospital administrative books and has 350 Research publications in international medical journals and about 500 literary publications. He is on the Editorial Board of several medical journals besides being Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Health Sciences. He represented India in “The World Health Assembly” held at Dallas, Texas, during 1998 (first medical scientist from India). Dr. Tabish has been advocating new or changing roles of doctors and other health professionals in response to emerging or refractory social problems, under-served populations, inequalities, rising costs of care, continuous quality improvement, need for community involvement in resolving imbalances between the preventive, promotive & curative services.)

Healthcare: From Good to Exceptional Governance

According to the Millennium Development Goals-access to basic health care is central to the poverty reduction worldwide. Hospitals constitute a very significant part of the overall health care sector and they provide essential services to the public. Hospitals and health systems across the country struggle with issues of governance, particularly when it comes to care standardization and quality improvement. Establishing clear channels of communication and clear lines of accountability for the numerous committees, departments, facilities and business functions of a healthcare enterprise has proven to be an ongoing challenge.

Efficient governance of hospitals requires the responsible and effective use of funds, professional management and competent governing structures. By establishing and maintaining the public's trust, being good stewards of the community's resources, and ensuring high quality care Hospital Administrators can be an important asset on the governing board in fulfilling those duties. Administrators add the perspective of the patient care process as well as a unique understanding of family issues; they grapple with overall health care concerns such as staff shortages, patient safety and quality of care; and they are the most knowledgeable about diseases and new treatment modalities, as well as being aware of the ethical dilemmas posed by new technologies.

Healthcare Governance

Governance is important work. How well it is done has significant consequences for health care organizations, the communities they serve, and their patients, medical staffs, and employees.

Hospital Efficiency Task Force

The principles of good corporate governance of hospitals include Effective and Efficient Board Structures and Processes, Long-range planning, financial oversight and Quality oversight. The importance of establishing a Strategic Plan comprising a mission and/or vision statement, a set of core values; a list of communities and health needs to be served; a description of programs and services to be offered; and plans for achieving program and service goals. The Strategic Plan and its components once adopted, management has a responsibility to develop an Operational Plan that translates into specific tactics and activities to be initiated in the next fiscal year.

Brick By Brick: Delivering Good Governance

Governance is essentially a reform package to strengthen the institutions of government and civil society with the objective of making government more accountable, more open, transparent, more democratic and participatory. Good governance is also about effective and equitable government that promotes rule of law. Standards of Good Governance include participatory approach, sustainable, legitimate and acceptable to the people, transparent, promotes equity and equality, able to develop the resources and methods of governance, tolerates and accepts diverse perspectives, able to mobilize the resources for social purposes, strengthens indigenous mechanisms, operates by rule of law, efficient and effective in the use of resources, engenders and commands respect and trust, accountable, able to define and take ownership of national solutions, enabling and facilitative, regulatory rather than controlling, able to deal with temporal issues and service oriented.

Governance in Health Care

With respect to the health care dimensions of the public service, the capacity of a government to provide a good standard of health care is deemed one of the most important elements contributing to a country's standard of living. Universal access to health care, irrespective of one's ability to pay, is regarded as a basic human right in the developed world.

Governance in a hospital setting concerns not only economic and financial dimensions, as there is a huge societal aspect associated with the provision of health care. In turn it could be argued that hospital governance takes a more institutional approach. As the concept of hospital governance has been broadened to include both financial and non-financial elements, its purpose is to enable a more integrated approach of supporting and supervising all hospital activities including clinical performance.

Indeed, the concept of hospital governance is relatively new. It is a shared process of top level organizational leadership, policy making and decision making of the Governing Body, CEO, senior management and clinical leaders…it's an interdependent partnership of leaders'. It is the process of steering the overall functioning and effective performance of a hospital by defining its mission, setting objectives and… having them realized at the operational level'. One of the key elements needed in order to achieve excellence in hospital governance is having a clear mission and an achievement-orientated culture in which to realise it.

The key principles of governance in the development and implementation of governance models in hospitals include: knowledge of what governance is, achievement of goals, Executive Management Team relationships, unity in direction, unity of command, accountability, ownership needs, self-improvement and understanding governance costs.

Clinical governance is regarded as a framework used to improve the quality of the health care service provided. Its introduction on a formalized basis means that hospitals now have to report on issues of quality whereas previously there had only been financial accountability. The concept of clinical governance tries to improve the quality of healthcare provided through integrating the financial, performance and clinical quality aspects of a hospital. The main aim of clinical governance is to accomplish continuous quality improvement in a health care setting and is designed to consolidate fragmented approaches to quality improvement. It promotes an integrated approach towards management of inputs, structures and processes to improve…clinical quality'. Four main dimensions include professional performance, resource allocation, risk management and patient satisfaction. Other elements include: Patient involvement in service delivery, Staffing and staff management, Continuous professional development, Clinical effectiveness, Education and training, Using available information and Clear lines of accountability and responsibility for clinical care. Clinical governance can be viewed as a mechanism to facilitate multi disciplinary teams all working toward the same goal - the continuous improvement of the quality of care. It is hoped that these cooperative working practices will have a positive influence on both the behaviour of medical professionals and in turn the delivery of care.

Hospital governance is based on the two pillars of accountability and transparency. As the provision of health care is a 'social good' each group of stakeholders merit recognition of its interests. Resources are one of the most pressing issues in hospitals. Issues such as value for money, the reorganization of the health service and patient satisfaction has served to drive the governance process forward. These, in association with the accreditation process would appear to have put governance on the agenda of the health service and hospitals in particular.

From Good to Exceptional Governance

Providing better service; improving health care quality and patient safety; releasing information about the outcomes, costs and charges for care; securing public and stakeholder trust--these are just some of the demands on health care governing boards. There is increasing evidence that good governance at health care organizations is linked to better organizational performance. Accountability includes understanding traditional and emerging stakeholders and constituents and promoting transparency about the organization's performance. An important step while going the corporate way is changing the mindset of people. Leadership is very important here as it is necessary that the managers realise the significance of their mission and are focused towards the goal.

Though implementation of IT is still considered to be nascent in healthcare, as compared to other industries, hospitals are exploring IT to their maximum advantage. While adopting the corporate way of functioning, HR is in the forefront. This is where employees are scanned and are segregated as efficient and non-efficient. Here, hospitals are also required to find out multi-tasking employees, who can be trained further to shoulder more responsibilities and become leaders. Training the workforce is most important, so as not to waste the available manpower.

The Next Generation of Solutions in Managing Healthcare

As we enter the `next generation' of needs in managing healthcare, our unified, focused efforts have never been more needed. The face of healthcare is constantly changing, with technological innovations, new treatments, new laws, and new types of organizations arising almost daily. In addition to negotiating the day-to-day demands of a busy and complex organization, healthcare delivery leaders must also be able to evaluate and understand the impact of alternative care delivery models. The traditional way of delivering care is no longer enough.

Medical education needs to take full advantage of the power of ICT. A well-structured health informatics curriculum needs to be made an integral part of medical education at all levels. Basic ICT facilities, such as good quality access to Internet and e-Journals, need to be made compulsory for all medical colleges in the country. For capacity building, ICT tools should be effectively deployed to train the large number of health workers.

Making the health care delivery system accountable

Accountability has become the fact of life for the health care delivery system. Appropriate measurement tools are needed to evaluate services, delivery, performance, customer satisfaction, and outcomes assessment. All employees bear responsibilities which necessitate assessment and analysis. Accountability will be accomplished when the health care industry implements quality and measurement concepts that yield the highest levels of validity and appropriateness for health care delivery. Performance measurement is fast becoming a way of life for health care providers in this age of increased accountability and outcomes reporting. A strategic plan and implementation of an effective performance measurement system will help to guide an organization to evaluate key processes and implement changes to improve patient care.

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