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The new friendly neighbourhood GP

The new friendly neighbourhood GP
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First Published: Tue, Aug 26 2008. 12 05 AM IST

Updated: Tue, Aug 26 2008. 12 05 AM IST
In the absence of an organized social security system in India and adequate health care facilities, some apartment complexes in metros are bringing healthcare virtually to the doorstep.
Dedicated care for residents
At Windsor Court, an apartment complex in Gurgaon, the residents—mostly senior citizens and retirees—have a doctor on call at the complex every morning, 10am to 12 noon. A tie-up for emergency services with the nearby Artemis Hospital, that is promoted by the Apollo Tyres group, assures them of timely and reliable help. In addition, residents get a 20% rebate at the hospital and are accorded priority treatment.
Nearby Heritage City, which has about 700 flats and an estimated 2,000 residents, has a similar arrangement—with certain add-ons. The doctor on call also undertakes home visits. A specialist from Artemis drops in occasionally, too, at charges double the GP’s. Santosh Jaitley, joint secretary of community affairs at the complex, explains that a prior appointment is needed to have the specialist called, and there is a free collection facility for blood samples—residents who require regular blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring find it very convenient.
Boon to the less privileged
ITC Laburnum, also in Gurgaon, is a complex of 264 flats with 750-odd residents, mostly affluent Indians and expatriates. A consultant visits its health care clinic daily between 4pm and 6pm—a facility also extended to all domestic help working in the apartments. “Put together, the residents, the domestic help, the drivers, the housekeeping and security staff number about 1,500 people,” says Vijay Pahwa, an active community office bearer at ITC Laburnum. For the domestic help, the consultation fee is a subsidized Rs60 (residents pay Rs150).
Security for seniors
South Bangalore is home to no less than three tertiary-care hospitals—Wockhardt Hospital, Apollo Hospital and Sagar Hospital, all located on the arterial Bannerghatta Road. But those living in the sprawling residential complexes in the area still seek out the personal attention that a family doctor provides. Every weekday, between 6pm and 7pm, a general physician visits Purva Heights on Bannerghatta Road. Most of the residents of its 300 apartment units rely on his services for routine check-ups and treatment of simple infections and seasonal illnesses. “Apart from medicines for colds and coughs, we also meet the doctor for regular blood pressure monitoring,” says Mala Shetty, 56, a resident of Purva Heights. She feels the arrangement provides a great sense of security to older residents.
Training as well as treatment
Growing issues of traffic congestion and stressful commutes in Bangalore have prompted other residential communities to add a physician to their roster of “in-house” services as well. At Sobha Apartment, Jayanagar, a general physician is available for consultations for an hour in the evening on weekdays. There are also trained coaches for residents who use the in-house gym. In summer, coaches are invited to arrange training sessions for children at the clubhouse swimming pool.
Win-win arrangement
Essentially, the model is similar to what many companies provide for employees—a fully functional medical clinic within the office premises. Last year, when Artemis launched in Gurgaon, the hospital group wanted to develop a relationship with citizens in the upmarket Delhi suburb. So, when Pahwa mooted the idea of a clinic within his residential complex to the Artemis management, they were keen.
Given the hugely subsidized rates of medical consultation usually provided in this model, a hospital opting to provide such dedicated services does not benefit monetarily. However, referrals generated through the clinic could push up the number of people coming to the hospital for consultations.
Small cost
For residents, it is a winning arrangement either way—whether the services are provided by a hospital or an independent GP. The RWA just needs to make a room available to the GP for a couple of hours daily, and take charge of its upkeep and maintenance.
Consultation rates vary, but are usually to the residents’ advantage. At Windsor Court, the charges are Rs100 per consultation. At Heritage City, it is Rs75 for a visit.
Of course, there are other medical facilities in all these areas—practising GPs as well as several hospitals. However, as Wing Commander Sharma of Windsor Court points out, this arrangement means there is no need to fight for parking space, no prior appointments and no long waits.
(Archana Rai in Bangalore contributed to this story.)
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First Published: Tue, Aug 26 2008. 12 05 AM IST