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Hospital Rewrites Cancer Care Rules

Indian Express
19 May 2010
By Saritha Rai
Bangalore, India

Dr.Pauls Salinas,the medical director,at the mazumdar-shaw cancer center.Dr.Pauls Salinas,the medical director,at the mazumdar-shaw cancer center.
Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar–Shaw and Narayan Hrudayalaya’s Dr Devi Shetty are behind the venture
A HIGH–POWERED part nership between a biotech billionaire and a charismatic doctor is re–writing the rules of cancer care in India, dissociating cancer treatment from affluence.

Kiran Mazumdar–Shaw of Biocon and Dr Devi Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya have joined hands to set up the Mazumdar–Shaw Cancer Center, a towering 1,400–bed hospital that formally opened last month in the suburbs of Bangalore.

“I want to create a global centre of medical excellence in Bangalore modelled on Sloan–Kettering or M D Anderson, focused on combining affordable cancer care and research,” says Kiran MazumdarShaw of the new centre.

A million cases of cancer are detected in India every year, a number forecast to triple in the next two decades. The statistics herald the big–time arrival of a developed world malady into this country. But the bland numbers hide the economic ravages the disease wreaks on poor families.

The launch of Bangalore’s new Cancer Center is momentous because it brings a rare fusion of cutting edge cancer research, top–class medical skills and expensive stateof–the–art detection and treatment technology to the Indian classes as well as the masses.

For those who can afford it, the Centre offers access to the world’s best through the use of sophisticated medical technology and high–speed internet. A specialist in Pittsburgh administered anaesthesia on a well–to–do cancer patient last month by linking and coordinating through sophisticated machines. A radiotherapy expert in a Seattle hospital similarly tweaked radiation dosages on another wealthy patient. The 55,000–square feet facility filled with high–tech, high–cost equipment such as the Image Guided Radiation Therapy machines (that deliver precise radiotherapy to cancer tumors) and PET scanners (providing medical imaging depicting cancer cell activity in the body) already sees 700 patients daily. Over half of these are from less privileged backgrounds.

The Mazumdar–Shaw Cancer Centre nests in the Narayana Health City built by Dr Shetty whose cardiac hospital specialises in low–cost, almost assembly line, cardiac surgeries done with stunning precision.

Profits from paying patients are channelled to subsidising surgeries for the poor.

The Cancer Centre, thus, benefits from economies of scale and shared resources, making the facility sustainable even with small margins. Research collaborations with institutions such as MIT and Will y Cornell Medical College fund t equipment that is also handy for e use on patients.

To tackle the three types of can cer –head and neck, breast and d cervical –that are more prevalent l in India than in the West, the Can cer Centre has a team handpicked from all over the world.

e Dr Paul Salins, its medical direc tor, has trained in the United Kingr dom and worked in Europe and a the Middle East. Other specialists y have been recruited from New s York and Cornell Universities and , hospitals in the Middle East. The hospital follows unique practices in order to save on costs.

e The case detail of every patient ars riving at the hospital goes before the Tumor Board of the Centre.

The Board, comprising multi–disd ciplinary experts, discusses the complexities of the case and tailors the treatment, eliminating unnech essary and expensive interventions.

l “Each surgeon at the hospital, however junior, is trained to carry out complex procedures like micro–vascular surgeries with regimen–like accuracy,” says Dr Salins.

The use of sophisticated equipment, some costing tens of crores, has been optimised. During rush hours, the machines are used to diagnose and treat paying patients.

Lean times such as late evenings are for poor and non–paying patients.

Dr Shetty forecasts, only institutions having the entire gamut of in frastructure ranging from heart to cancer to gynaecology can make high–quality healthcare affordable.

“Unless you have a few thousand patients using the infrastructure daily, you cannot reduce costs and improve efficiency,” he says.

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