The government is set to make erring charitable hospitals fall in line as far as offering free treatment to poor patients is concerned. It has begun installing software and appointing facilitators in charitable hospitals to check manipulations and implement the benefit scheme efficiently.
This action comes after the public health department served show cause notices to as many as 40 charitable hospitals for various violations. In raids conducted on 49 hospitals in January this year, 31 were found guilty of violating norms related to the reservation of beds for the poor. 10% of the beds in the hospitals should be reserved for the free treatment of patients below the poverty line while another 10% of the beds should be reserved for the treatment of poor patients (with the annual income below Rs 1 lakh) at a concessional rate.
When the hospitals failed to respond satisfactorily, the government turned to technology to ensure transparency.
"The software not only keeps a record of the billing and the beds available but will also maintain treatment records along with the patient's personal details," said an official from the department, requesting anonymity.
"This would help curtail manipulation. Some hospitals were charging patients against the doctor's fee, without actually paying the doctors. Others treated its own staff under the scheme meant for the poor," the officer said.
While four hospitals have already installed the software, 24 more will do so shortly. 24 Arogya-Mitras (facilitators) were also appointed to help admit the poor. But eight hospitals have refused to install the mechanism and insisted on communication with the charity commissioner.