HPC Fellow: Adrien Gaussen, Aravind Eye Care System

Adrien Gaussen is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with Aravind Eye Care System. At Aravind Eye Care System, Adrien worked alongside individuals at Aravind’s internal consulting and training division to set up the infrastructure necessary for properly creating, testing, implementing, monitoring, and updating patient educative materials. In his blog, Adrien reflects upon Aravind’s operational efficiency and patient education model. 

Including the Patient in the Fight Against Needless Blindness
By Adrien Gaussen

Within the world of Ophthalmology, regardless of the country, everyone regards Aravind as a leader in the struggle to eliminate avoidable blindness. The impact Aravind has had both directly and indirectly on eye care in emerging markets is incredible. As my Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow colleague, Shazzad Khan, accurately describes in his blog, Aravind is well on its way to one day preventing needless blindness.

While many factors have contributed to Aravind’s ever growing achievement of offering eye care to millions of patients in such a short period of time, the way Aravind is run and its operational efficiency has allowed it to make leaps and bounds, whereas so many other non-governmental organizations have struggled. Aravind treats thousands of patients a day, using the revenues from paying patients to finance those receiving care for free. While many NGOs rely highly on outside financing (whether it be external aid, grants, or subsidies) especially in the realm of healthcare, where costs are so high, Aravind has reached a point where the sheer number of patients that they see makes the institution profitable and completely financially self-sufficient.

And while Aravind could very well rest on its laurels, the organization still runs on all cylinders to try and grow in new ways so that one day no person be needlessly blind.

During my time at Aravind, I worked on structuring the process of developing, maintaining, and advancing patient education. As with any fast growing company, the need for a structured method in carrying out any operation becomes increasingly important to ensure quality and uniformity across the entire organization.

India remains a country where many people are unaware of the importance of visiting an ophthalmologist and receiving care. And yet patient education in ophthalmology is incredibly important, especially given that it is a therapeutic area where most diseases are non-curable. What this means is that, even after providing some of the best eye care in the world (Aravind’s complication rate following cataract surgery is lower than many US or EU hospitals at 1.01-1.11% [1], depending on the surgery type) in many cases, if a patient waits for symptoms to manifest before going to see a doctor, treatment will not restore the lost vision.

Working alongside individuals at Aravind’s internal consulting and training division (LAICO), we went about setting up the infrastructure necessary for properly creating, testing, implementing, monitoring, and updating patient educative materials. The first month and a half saw me travel across a variety of different Aravind hospitals to speak to all different types of stakeholder; from mid-level ophthalmic personnel (MLOPs) who help in screening patients to counselors who answer patient questions to doctors to Heads of Departments to C-level executives. During this time, I was able to see how educative materials are currently made and discover the difficulties in creating effective materials. I also was able to truly see how Aravind functions as an organization.

After getting a firm grasp of how Aravind operates and the current norms and infrastructure in place for creating patient educative materials, we went about creating a set of protocols that could easily be followed to ensure patients are adequately educated through the use of posters, videos, brochures, or any other medium.

Since I had lead this initiative, my biggest fear was in ensuring what had been created would not fall by the wayside after I had gone. Therefore, my last month with Aravind was dedicated to setting up a team that would champion and be responsible for patient educative materials. Over the course of the month, I worked alongside a team, made up of a Doctor, a Counsellor, and someone from the design department, to familiarize, implement, and test the protocols that we had created.

I cannot emphasize enough how much I have valued my time at Aravind. It is truly an amazing company filled with people who are dedicated to dealing with one of the most debilitating disabilities in the world: blindness.

[1] Haripriya, Aravind, et al. “Complication rates of phacoemulsification and manual small-incision cataract surgery at Aravind Eye Hospital.” Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery 38.8 (2012): 1360-1369.

(Photos courtesy of Aravind Eye Care System)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the  Fellows Program, the  Collaborative Models Program  and the  Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat,  Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit  prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact  prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and  LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.


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