Thoughts and Lists

So much has happened this summer that it’s been impossible to cover everything in my blogs! So, for this last blog, I’m going to throw together a bunch of random thoughts and lists to reflect on my summer.

About My Project at Aravind:

My project was about identifying new techniques for patient feedback collection. At the time I am writing this, the patient feedback team uses three main methods to collect feedback: phone surveys, direct surveying, and focus groups. The problem with this is that the team only reaches out to a 1% sample of Aravind’s totals patients. Not only is this a very small sliver, but it also requires a lot of manpower to do actually collect this information. So, my project hoped to address this issue.

 I focused on three new techniques for feedback collection: bulk SMS, QR codes, and a kiosk. For the SMS component, I did a formal pilot study comparing response rates and costs of three types of SMS methods (we are hoping to publish this paper in the future!). After completing the study with the help of the patient feedback team, I found that collecting SMS-driven feedback through missed calls was the most effective and least costly method. This technique collected feedback from 3.7% of the population, compared to the 1% sample that is currently used. In addition, the cost per response for the missed call method (Rs. 5.87) was also lower that the feedback team’s current calling cost per response (8.72). While the SMS study took up the most of my focus, I also spent some time setting up QR codes and a kiosk. Both of these projects will continue to be worked on with the help of the patient education team and the IT team, respectively.

Me working with Buvana and Thamarai from the Patient Feedback Team

The Places I’ve Been:

Kerala, Munnar, Kanyakumari, Chennai, and Coimbatore

The Books I’ve Read (maybe bad Wi-Fi was a blessing in disguise):

A Thousand Splendid Suns, The God of Small Things, And Then There Were None, The Color Purple, Dracula, The Princess Bride, Murder on the Orient Express, Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, Slaughterhouse Five, Flowers for Algernon, Jane Eyre, Death on the Nile, Romancing Mister Bridgerton, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1984, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Lolita, The Little Prince, The Giver, Peril at End House, Wuthering Heights, and Love in the Time of Cholera.

The bolded titles were my favorite reads!

The Number of Weddings I’ve Been To:

Only 2! This is the least number of weddings I’ve ever been to in India! I did see a famous Malayalam movie actor at one of them though

Types of Transportation:

Autorickshaw, Cycle rickshaw, Ola, Sleeper train, Ferry (only for 5 minutes in Kanyakumari but it counts!), Bus, Plane

(view from the ferry)

Animals I’ve Seen:

Streetdogs, Elephants, Monkeys, Peacocks, Spiders, Mosquitos (and plenty of other insects), Cats

Thoughts on Weather:

I didn’t anticipate how much weather would factor into summer. Delhi’s heat was unbearable for the two days I was there (I have so much respect for the Delhi interns), so we could only go out in the mornings and evenings. In Madurai, the heat and humidity also kept us indoors in the AC around midday. The rains in Kerala were absolutely BRUTAL. My train got canceled on the way to the train station because trains were getting stranded in the floods. My calls to my mother (who was in Kerala) kept failing because the rains were coming down so hard. The taxi to the Kochi airport turned into a completely flooded road at night and we could’ve gotten stuck. My flight from Kochi also got delayed because of the rain so that I almost missed my connection. Indian weather is crazy.

My Favorite Places in Madurai:

Appams and Hoppers (hands-down the BEST restaurant in Madurai), Phil’s Bistro, Ibaco (amaaaazing ice cream flavors), Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, Pothys, Any of the Kashmiri-owned shops around Meenakshi, and of course, Aravind!

This Chicken Cheese Appam from Appams and Hoppers might be the best food I’ve ever had.

Thoughts on My Summer:

Wow. I’ve really had an amazing summer. Working at Aravind has been such a unique experience, and I feel like my time there has been useful for both myself and the organization. I have also learned a lot from all the moments outside of work–doing all my laundry by hand (definitely my biggest workout this summer), traveling around South India, and attempting to speak Malayalam in Tamil Nadu. I’m so so grateful to CASI, Laura, Makeda, GRIP, my parents, fellows interns, and everyone who made this experience possible for me!

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About Nadha Illikkal

Hi! I'm Nadha Illikkal, and I'm a rising junior studying Health and Societies. I'm a born-and-bred New Englander from Andover, Massachusetts. This summer, I'll be interning at Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, where I hope to learn about compassionate and high quality care. In my free time, I love doing puzzles (jigsaw, crossword, sudoku, you name it!) and watching sports!