Berkeley Haas Travels to Nepal for Eye Care Nonprofit
Written by IBD Team Seva; Alix Slosberg, Elinor Chang, Lauren Greenwood, Ryan Overcash and Ryan Adams
Five current Berkeley Haas MBA students partnered with Seva, a global nonprofit, to support its mission to preserve and restore sight for communities around the world for the 2019 International Business Development (IBD) course. The Haas team started working in Kathmandu, but quickly traveled around Nepal to see the famed Lumbini Eye Institute and settled in Tansen, Nepal, where the team focused its IBD work for the Palpa Lions Lacoul Eye Hospital (PLLEH).
The Haas team spent three weeks in-country exploring how PLLEH could increase cataract surgery patient volume to drive revenue growth to become financially self-sustaining in the long-term.
A Day in the Life
While in Tansen, the Haas team ingrained itself with PLLEH’s eye care staff and operations. The team met with the other Tansen medical care facilities that also serve the broader Palpa district, which includes Tansen and has a population of 270,000.
In total, the Haas team conducted 24 stakeholder interviews and 5 hospital tours while in Nepal.
One of the most memorable days was when the Haas team worked with the Seva Nepal contact, Parami Dhakhwa, and the PLLEH staff to set up a full day of patient interviews at the hospital.
The Haas team wanted to learn about PLLEH’s patient journey through patients that came for cataract surgery, those that were just diagnosed with cataracts, and those that came for a general checkup.
The hospital opened at 10am and already had a line of people waiting to be seen. As the morning progressed, the hospital became more crowded since people had traveled hours by foot and bus and wanted to receive care in time to return home before the last bus left Tansen.
There was added excitement on this particular interview day. An ophthalmologist from the Lumbini Eye Institute was visiting PLLEH for one day to perform cataract surgeries since PLLEH was temporarily operating without an ophthalmologist.
The Haas team prepared standard interview questions for patients and worked with two translators to dive into patients’ experiences at PLLEH.
The Nepali patients were kind, forthcoming, and supportive of the Haas team’s work. The patients also made clear that PLLEH’s brand was highly regarded and they trusted the quality of care received at PLLEH.
The interviewed patients were mostly farmers in the region and many of them brought up concerns about leaving their crops and animals in order to receive care at PLLEH.
The Haas team also gained insights into the decision making process for patients that decided to receive cataract surgery and the team’s hypotheses were further refined. An interesting development was that finding a guardian or caretaker for cataract surgery is likely not as much of a barrier to surgery as the team previously thought. At PLLEH, grandchildren, daughters-in-law, and spouses still appeared available and willing to assist family members with cataracts.
Through days like this interview day, surveys written by the Haas team, and the incredible support from Seva and PLLEH staff, the IBD project came alive. The Haas team used the data and primary research to think through eye care patients’ needs and wants and provided dynamic recommendations to PLLEH. Seva will continue to engage the Haas team over the coming year and Haas wishes PLLEH the best in making additional outreach and operational efforts to better position the hospital to care for more patients.