Lagoon Hospitals: Driving quality in Nigeria’s private healthcare sector
Lagoon is the only Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited private healthcare provider in Nigeria, and only one of two in sub-Saharan Africa. The company has been in operation since 1986, when it managed a single hospital in Lagos. Today, Lagoon has expanded to three hospitals and two clinics and is today the largest private healthcare operator in Nigeria. Lagoon is a part of Hygeia Nigeria Ltd and has consistently been providing healthcare of international standards to the people of Nigeria.
Last year, Lagoon added its third hospital – Gold Cross Hospital Ikoyi – and the organisation is looking to expand the services it offers to patients. “We are moving towards tertiary care, so some of the key medical programmes that we’re looking at are the neurosciences, as well as orthopaedics, which will include joint replacements and arthroplasty. We’re moving into cardio thoracic surgery, interventional cardiology later on in the year, while focussing on building nephrology, urology, critical care, and neo-natal critical care. These are some of the key specialities within the medical care programme that will be launching throughout the course of the year,” advises Rajeev Bhandari, CEO.
With this in mind, Lagoon is investing in its hospitals and clinics. “We have already been revamping some of our facilities with state-of-the art units. We’ve set up new critical care units in our hospitals,” explains Bhandari. “All of that is to ensure that we provide the right kind of care and the right levels of service.”
A PwC survey of Nigerians found that more than 90% of respondents associated advanced healthcare delivered in Nigeria with “low quality”. Despite this, Lagoon is striving hard to deliver healthcare that meets and exceeds international standards. “We’re consistently looking at increasing our footprint to be the best healthcare provider in Nigeria. Nigeria currently has a very substantial population that goes out of the country for medical treatment,” states Bhandari.
“One of our major goals is to provide healthcare at affordable rates, of high quality standards to Nigerians so that they can actually avail those services here and do not have to go out of the country. We have a very strong commitment to quality – the quality of the healthcare we provide, patient care and clinical excellence,” Bhandari continues.
It is this commitment to quality that sets Lagoon apart from other private healthcare providers in Nigeria. “We don’t compromise on quality at all,” notes Bhandari. “Our standards of quality are very high and that is something we are very committed to and of course the other thing that sets us apart is the quality of clinicians. The profile of the clinicians that we offer are definitely the best in Nigeria. We feel proud that we offer the right clinical mix and quality of service to our patients.”
Guidelines set out by JCI help Lagoon to meet such high standards of quality. “We actually follow certain healthcare guidelines that have been provided by JCI on adherence to quality patient care,” Bhandari comments. “We have been given scorecards based on all our processes, procedures and medical methods. We also have non-medical indicators, which give us a scorecard for patient care services. They start right from waiting times to turnaround of lab test times to radiology tests, so covering approximately 18 different parameters based around clinician satisfaction and patient experience.”
As well as the quality of care, patient safety is at the heart of everything Lagoon does. “We ensure consistency through training, again as per JCI standards and other internal SOPs. We have consistent training and retraining for our people. We follow a system where we check on all processes that have been laid out,” Bhandari advises. “We collect data, validate the data and track the data as per our SOPs and guidelines provided. Of course, we have a strong culture of empowering people to speak out whenever there are any issues, so that we can ensure that we rectify them.”
In order to meet international healthcare standards, Lagoon works with partners overseas to keep up to date with the latest expertise. “We have a JV with Fortis Healthcare in India where we take clinical expertise in terms of SOPs, protocols, processes from them so that we can actually manage to deliver international standards of healthcare here,” explains Bhandari. “We work with them closely, they’re our international partners.”
The importance of innovation
Lagoon has long pioneered advanced medical care in Nigeria, becoming the first private hospital in the country to successfully perform open-heart surgery. Today, such pioneering innovation continues, where Lagoon eagerly embraces the latest technology. “Innovation has always been very important to us. In Nigeria, we were the first operators to actually launch fully electronic medical records. We predominantly operate paperless facilities and we have gone electronic for our patients. This can be accessed across facilities,” Bhandari advises.
“Additionally, we have our own hospital information system that we work with. All our facilities are connected to each other so a patient can walk into any of our facilities and with one registration number we can access their medical records. That ensures continuity of care. Technology is of course paramount to our business, and so we’re investing in the best and latest medical technology.”
With facilities around Lagos, Lagoon is able to cater to the healthcare needs of Nigeria’s, and indeed Africa’s, largest city. It is one of the fastest growing in the world, and also one of the most populous urban agglomerations. Indeed, Nigeria as a whole has experienced exponential population growth over the preceding decades. According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects, the total population of Nigeria was 185,989,640 in 2016, compared to only 37,860,000 in 1950.
This means that there is significant potential for Lagoon to expand outside of its home city in the coming years. “Our objective is to increase our footprint across Lagos and eventually across Nigeria,” Bhandari comments. “If any appropriate opportunities come along we will be evaluating those to see if we can increase our footprint. There is a strong demand for the private healthcare set up in Nigeria.”