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The number cruncher
Dr Rajan Badwe has made it easy for a patient sitting in a remote North-Eastern town to have access to quality cancer protocol.
If a coin had landed on its flip side, cancer patients from remote corners of the country may not have had the benefit of Rajendra Badwe's ingenious remote diagnostic skills. As a brilliant but confused high school student of science, he had to choose between engineering and medicine and, thanks to chance, ended up becoming a doctor.
Today Badwe, 56, is a trusted breast cancer surgeon. The director of Tata Memorial Hospital and Research Centre - an accolade in itself - he has also done pioneering work in the field of clinical trials.
Badwe ran and completed the largest trial in oncology in India, testing pre-operative progesterone in women with operable breast cancer. The trial among 1, 000 patients was supported by the Department of Science and Technology. He also introduced the concept of statistical methods for clinicians and developed the software for clinical statistics that included sample-size calculation and survival analysis. He then devised a programme for collating evidence - a formal meta-analysis tool that converts patient details into research statistics.
Perhaps the most revolutionary of his works is the evidence-based management movement spearheaded by the Tata Hospital. Every February oncologists from across the country meet to discuss vexing questions about their patients and the specialty. The Badwe team finds the answers and creates a protocol for treatment - so, a patient in the Northeast does not have to come all the way to Mumbai for treatment.
"Tata Hospital has 50, 000 appointments annually. Of these, half are from outside Maharashtra. If the patient receives the same treatment from an oncologist near his house, he wouldn't have to spend the long treatment period and a large sum to stay in Mumbai, " says Badwe.
He is particularly passionate about interacting with young doctors. Tata Hospital, which teaches about 200 medical students every year, provides Badwe an opportunity to spend at least an hour every week with them. "This interaction helps me gain new perceptions. I figure out if things are fine or need to be tweaked, " he says.
Since he became the head of surgical oncology in 2002, Badwe's concerns have stretched beyond the operation theatre. For instance, his worry about the rivalry between doctors led him to institute a new practice. "All members of the department of surgical oncology voluntarily adopted specialty practice, allowing everyone to concentrate on a certain area. This improved patient care remarkably. Each service introduced newer procedures and showed a reduction in 30-day mortality and morbidity. "
The Mumbaikar, affectionately called Rajan, has a family connection with hospitals and healthcare. His father was an administrator at Tata Hospital itself. He is quite at home with the sights, sounds and smells of hospitals. But he needs to de-stress too and his favourite technique for unwinding is to listen to his wife sing. "My family has been a great support for me all my life, " he says.
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