New Delhi, India, October 02, 2014 --(PR.com
)-- iRikai, a leading corporate skills training firm based in New Delhi recently launched their Soft Skills for Hospital staff courses for Indian hospitals. Rikai means to understand in Japanese and the company lists “to promote better communication and understanding among people” as its mission.
While corporate soft skills trainings for sectors like hospitality and offshoring have been prevalent for a long time, the focus on soft skills for hospital staff is relatively new. Soft skills for doctors, nurses and front office staff are a growing area of focus for some of the leading hospital chains as well as stand-alone hospitals in India. “We feel that hospitals present one of the most challenging environments for human interaction, given the sensitivity, the emotions, stress involved – all of these on top of the normal challenges of communication that we face in daily interactions,” said a company official. While soft skill trainings are becoming the norm for other industries, in healthcare, the kind of skills required present different challenges, as per iRikai: “As an example, when you train the front office staff, you cannot just tell them to smile and greet clients and be done with it. First and foremost, they need to be trained on the value of empathy. Unless you can put yourself in the patient’s shoes, you will not be motivated to change your own behavior. In fact, empathy is the most important aspect in all our healthcare trainings – be it for front office staff or senior doctors.”
In a country where doctors have been used to being treated as demi-gods, is it difficult to change behavior among doctors? As per the iRikai official, it is difficult, especially among senior doctors, but can and needs to be done. “The fact is, patients are changing and doctors need to change with them. These days, people demand more than just robotic treatment. Especially in the top-end hospitals where you have NRIs and foreigners coming in and paying five star rates, patients put a high value on factors beyond treatment– such as quality of communication, professionalism etc. Patients have access to vast resources online and come prepared with questions on each treatment approach and medicine doctors prescribe. Such questions may have been irritants for doctors in the past, but today’s doctors have to actively listen to patients’ concerns and answer their questions. If they don’t, they risk coming across as uncaring and unprofessional.”
On being asked why they focus on healthcare soft skills training, the iRikai official pointed out that iRikai actually provides training in a wide range of industries including IT, Banking and Finance, Retail and so on. “However, the healthcare sector is one of the most satisfying areas to achieve such change. We benchmark to international, especially Japanese, best practices. When one compares the level of service one gets in an ordinary Japanese hospital vs. the service in even elite Indian hospitals, one finds major gaps. Our aim is to close these gaps to as large an extent as possible so that patient stress is minimized. As an example, while auditing the staff of a major New Delhi hospital for soft skills, we were shocked to see nurses barging into rooms without knocking, technicians kicking patients’ shoes around in the ultrasound room, front office staff ignoring confused, elderly patients who seemed lost, and several such issues. Doctors would treat patients as well as other staff in a condescending manner. We shared our findings with the hospital management and they agreed on the need to take major corrective action if they wanted to position themselves as a best-in-class facility. The results we achieved there through our comprehensive training program were very encouraging, and pushed us to expand our healthcare offerings.”
Several hospitals, and even small clinics are increasing their focus beyond mere treatment and into a customer orientated approach currently found in five-star hotels. The trend is expected to continue especially with Private Equity investors in healthcare demanding higher standards from their portfolio facilities.