Last week I went to a famous hospital in Delhi NCR to visit a patient. This hospital located at Gurgaon on Delhi -Haryana border is one of the latest private hospital to be set up by, India’s leading ‘Bye Pass Surgery Master’. The hospital is a swanky and upscale one and is in a huge campus. This hospital caters to niche patients of entire north India and is in huge demand for it’s pricey but reliable services. In fact you can find patients of multiple nationalities getting treatment here and hospital has separate arrangements to handle them. The boom in medical tourism in India can easily be noticed here.
I had gone there to see a patient of major bye-pass-surgery. Before entering the hospital I was feeling sad and gloomy for the turn of the events for the patient and his relatives, whom I was supposed to meet in next few minutes. I was thinking of using the choicest of words in the environment of the hospital in least number of words, so as not to be loud and garish at that time.
I entered the hospital through the emergency services and found a big hall, full of crowd. There were persons moving around and most of them were well dressed and looked healthy and fit. There were hardly any lines of worries on the faces of the men and women I saw there in first few minutes. I was however looking for the gentleman who was supposed to guide me to reach to the patient room. I located that gentleman after some time and moved towards him with a tinge of concern in my voice. I asked him about the patient. He told me that the patient was still in isolation and there were some ups and down in his health. I inquired more and he told me that I might see the patient but only after few hours, as the patient was in sleep.
I decided to wait and looked around me to find a corner, where I could wait. Sensing my discomfort, the gentleman who was there to usher and facilitate meeting the patient asked me to come with him to the coffee shop there. I was little bemused to hear the word coffee shop, as I was in an hospital and was not expecting some good shop there to have a decent coffee. After all this was a place, patients were treated for heart, kidney, brain and bone diseases and coffee was not the forte of the hospital. Then there was this famous south Indian food chain outlet, serving hot Idlis, Vadas and Dosas with piping hot Sambhar. This food court I was told run, 24 hours a day. I was initially hesitant to be there as I had come with the mindset of visiting a patient but eventually decided to spend some time in this Hospital Food Court!
I ordered an Idli-Vada combo. There was a huge rush though and it took some time for my order to be served. I kept on looking at the faces of the persons milling around. They were all busy chatting with each other and looking at menu. The worries of hospitals could hardly be felt in this part of hospital. Everybody seemed busy. I don’t know much about the patients they were attending to, but you could hardly delineate any worries on their faces. They were all sinking their teeth in the tasty and well marketed food. The food was really tasty and at par with offering from any good Delhi Restaurant. The hot filter coffee was even better and I had almost an early lunch at the hospital, otherwise a most unlikely place. I realized that these food court etc are meant to serve the attendants of well healed patients actually, as hardly any patient would be in a state of mind or body to relish the food offered in this food court. If hospital was having a thousand patient, the food court would be serving almost 2000 persons. A huge business opportunity actually. The prices at the food court were also at par with any high-end Delhi mall. A single scoop of sugar free ice-cream was for 100 bucks!
These hospitals perhaps are true representative of a consumer driven market culture, where those who can pay can get food or whatever at any place including an hospital. Thanks to the principles of Adam Smith propounded free market economy, we may perhaps be seeing swanky shops and food mart even besides a crematorium. One should never underestimate the power of a common-consumer!.