'Hospitals must update websites for poor patients'

 Private hospitals should update information on their websites on the number of free beds available for poor patients, said a proposal sent by a member of the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) monitoring committee.

This step will help fill more beds reserved for poor patients, the member Ashok Agarwal said. Currently, the identified private hospitals update real-time data on the number of free beds available on the government website. The hospitals are supposed to reserve 10 per cent indoor patient department beds and 25 per cent outdoor patient department slots for these patients.

Agarwal said his proposal has been sent to the Principal Secretary. “This is a much simpler procedure and will help fill more free beds,” he said. The identified hospitals are also supposed to prominently display detailed information on the availability of free beds throughout the day on boards on their premises. Poor patients who are ignorant of the scheme often fail to utilise the option.

“The first reaction of the private hospitals is always reluctance whenever it comes to treating poor patients. Whenever a patient logs on to a hospital website, it should show the status of beds at that time so that they cannot be turned away by the hospitals. This will definitely help boost awareness level,” said Agarwal.

The Directorate of Health Services is mulling the proposal but is not sure how effective it would be.

“We will issue a circular if required. However, it would not make much of a difference. Every private hospital is required to feed information on the DHS website now. If a patient wants to know the status of beds, he would like a snapshot of all hospitals and not a specific one. Uploading content on websites may prove to be more cumbersome for patients,” said a DHS official.

Meanwhile, there has been no monitoring of the private hospitals for over a month now.

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