Sustainability and Inclusiveness in a Competitive Market: A Study of Faith-Based Hospitals in India
Introduction: The Christian Healthcare Network is the largest faith-based healthcare network in India, functioning, most often, in the hard-to-reach and underdeveloped areas. It is facing serious challenges such as being forced to comply with the recent changes in government regulations, policies, and globalized market situations. Such changes in the social and financial environment are driving hospitals to adopt newer strategies to remain sustainable. Some of the mission hospitals are compromising their mission goals for which they were founded. If financial viability becomes the goal, social responsibility to the community and the true meaning of mission gets distorted. Their mission must remain the primary belief system, which legitimizes the structural arrangements and ideology of business. Mission and business must go hand-in-hand.
Methods: An embedded case study method was used to purposively study 16 selected cases of Christian faith-based hospitals (FBHs) pan India with the objective to understand the nature of services employed, the role played by FBHs in India in different contexts, their challenges in the changing business environment, and how successful they were in remaining both sustainable and inclusive at the same time.
Results: The study found that despite the variation in the services and infrastructure of mission hospitals across India, these facilities have had an on-going commitment and a long-standing operation with regard to population health. In their different settings, they are either the only service provider or the referral centre for the public facilities and the trusted choice of the middle- and lower-middle class population. The least sustainable and inclusive among them seem to have deviated from their founding objectives due to market changes, but more than a quarter of them were successful in remaining inclusive and sustainable. In pursuit of competitive advantages, some of them remained sustainable by dropping their inclusiveness, while a few ended up in existential crisis because of their adhesiveness to inclusivism. The challenges of attracting professionals, generating funds for development, and operating within the ethical boundaries set by the church are well addressed by the models which are sustainable and inclusive.
Conclusion: In the context of drastic changes in both internal and external environments, some of the FBHs lost their business, some lost their mission and a few got corporatized. But a few remain successful in terms of inclusiveness and sustainability by innovative strategies.
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