TALKING FILMS

Our favourite movie monsters, from aliens to children

What will it be, Godzilla, Skynet or the strange-eyed little ones from ‘Village of the Damned’?

In 2008, Matt Reeves’s Cloverfield created ripples among cinemagoers because of the proximity its plot shared with the events of 9/11. Cloverfield depicts a rampaging monster that appears out of nowhere and destroys New York City. The ending suggested a mild tribute to the cult classic Miracle Mile (1988), which explores concerns over a nuclear war and the end of the world.

Allegory has been a recurring theme in science fiction films from the volatile 1950s, a decade that saw the aftermath of WWII, the rise of the Iron Curtain between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, and the threat of nuclear warfare. The monsters and aliens of science fiction movies such as The Thing From Another World (1951), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Godzilla (1954) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), distilled the fear, anxiety and paranoia that characterised this period.

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‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’.

The monsters from these movies were upgraded along with their political affiliations as the decades went by. Predator (1987) saw a group of Special Forces members in a fictional South American country being killed one by one during a rescue mission. Predator hints at American involvement in dirty wars in South and Central American countries. The alien-monster in Predator, a mindless killing machine, is finally brought under control by the heroics of the great American soldier.

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‘Predator’.

The end of the Cold War in the late 1980s brought a new enemy. Islamic terrorists featured in several action films. After the September 11, 2001, attacks on America, onscreen monsters became more fiercely political than their predecessors. Cloverfield uses monsters/aliens as an extended metaphor for these trying times, just like District 9 (2009) takes on apartheid in South Africa, Monsters (2010) examines illegal immigration from Mexico and Monsters: Dark Continent (2014) looks at American soldiers fighting insurgents and aliens in the Middle East.

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‘Monsters: Dark Continent’.

Apart from rampaging monsters, sentient machines that consider human beings to be their enemy are also frequent adversaries. These Frankensteinian villains represent technophobia in a world heavily dependent on scientific advances. The techno-monsters from the 1950s, such as Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still or the creature from The Robot Monster (1953), appear relatively harmless in comparison to the present-day threats.

In Demon Seed (1977), one of the most bizarrely innovative takes on the Frankenstein syndrome, a super-intelligent computer impregnates its creator’s wife. In the Terminator series, the artificial intelligence system Skynet is hell-bent on destroying humanity. In The Matrix trilogy, humans are a source of energy for machines, the needs having been reversed.

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‘Demon Seed’.

Sometimes, threat resides in the unlikeliest of places. Children have done their part as monsters out to destroy a world created by adults. A number of movies such as Village of the Damned (1960), The Damned (1963), Children of the Damned (1964), Who Can Kill a Child? (1976) and The Brood (1979) features cherubic children who are corrupted by the hubris of adults.

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‘The Village of the Damned’.

In the current century, our paranoia has only increased, the nuclear threat is more real than ever, and fears of surveillance are at an all-time high. 10 Cloverfield Lane, described as a spiritual successor to Cloverfield¸ taps into present-day anxieties by conjuring up a world in which our greatest fears turn out to be true. This time, the monster isn’t a giant spider or a man-fly hybrid or a gargantuan beast. It is a human being.

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Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

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The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.

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As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.

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So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.

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As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”

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By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.