Now that I’ve reached the midway point of my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to see, experience, and taste some amazing things. From being captivated by the violets, pinks, and blues waltzing across the sky to savoring the delicious dosas, pooris, and vadas, my time in India makes it difficult to choose the best part or my favorite experience. Of course the skies and food are aspects of the country I have experienced before, so the most fascinating experiences for me largely arise from my time at Aravind.
One can describe Aravind as a sophisticated hospital system dedicated to compassionate service for sight. Others can rave about the hyper-efficient processes of care that reach out to thousands of patients a day or the fact that Aravind provides free consultations and surgeries to individuals in rural regions as part of their mission to eradicate needless blindness. Interning at the Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO) — the consulting branch of the healthcare system — I have had the opportunity to experience the operations necessary from the business perspective to carry out and enhance the effects of medical care at Aravind.
My project entails developing quality assurance metrics and a dashboard for the glaucoma clinic at Aravind. In layman’s terms, glaucoma is a disease where damage to the optic nerve results in irreversible vision loss. Unfortunately, it is a progressive disease which also makes it difficult to measure whether the quality of care provided by the clinic at Aravind is correlated to the rate at which the disease is worsening in a patient. However, it is crucial for the clinic to track patient outcomes along with process outcomes such as medical compliance and patient followup, so that they can iterate over their clinical operations and ultimately work towards providing the best care possible. My work thus far has involved shadowing the mid level ophthalmic personnel (MLOPs) through different patient streams, presenting potential quality indicators to doctors in the clinic, spending time in patient counseling, pouring over research articles, and extracting and analyzing data from the hospital electronic medical records (EMRs).
As much as I have learned about data analysis and measurement from my project, the most unforgettable learning experience comes from being in the Aravind environment itself. During our orientation week, my co-interns and I immediately noticed how knowledgeable everyone from the LAICO faculty to the MLOPs at the hospital were about Aravind as an institution and the work they were doing. Down to the minuscule details such as having prayer rooms for patients before they undergo surgery to placing the contact lens shop on the floor with younger patients, it is evident how much thinking went behind designing the hospital. Our tour guide enjoyed making us reason why foot traffic was directed in a certain manner or why a clinic was designed a specific way. I also had the opportunity to attend the memorial day event for Dr. G. Venkataswamy, the founder of the Aravind system and it was absolutely breathtaking how much respect everyone at the institution had for him and how his values such as compassionate care are embedded into the employees.
The wondrous company culture at Aravind continues to inspire me to explore my interests in innovative health care systems while weaving compassionate care and authentic work throughout the entire process and I can only hope by the end of the internship I will be able to carry these values with me.