Indian hospitals could perhaps take a cue from an experiment being conducted in public hospitals in New York. A host of public hospitals there have linked salaries of doctors topatient outcomes and satisfaction. This is against the existing system where doctors' paycheques are determined by the number of patients they are able to bring in. The current system is often blamed for patients being put through unnecessary tests or being admitted for longer duration than required.
The new benchmarks could go a long way in improving patient care with its emphasis on factors such as how well doctors communicate with patients, whether doctors' reach the operating room on time or how quickly patients are discharged. It would also give patients a much needed say in patient care. The experiment is not without problems and it may be difficult to benchmark factors such as "satisfactory" communication. It might also prove to be unfair for medicos given the fact that is often difficult for relatives to accept that their patient has experienced an adverse outcome to their treatment.
In the Indian setting, the model is perhaps more apt for the private sector as public hospitals payscales are not benchmarked against patient turnover. Private healthcare has been marked with a growing distrust of healthcare providers and a breakdown of doctor-patient relationships. Giving patients a say over their doctors could help restore their faith as well as help them reclaim a rightful say over their treatment.