Documentary channel

Watch, absorb and act upon Leonardo DiCaprio’s dire warnings on climate change in ‘Before the Flood’

The Hollywood star uses his fame to ask tough questions about global warming, fracking, and alternative energy sources.

There’s a point in the richly informative documentary Before the Flood when actor Leonardo DiCaprio is in conversation with Sunita Narain, the director general of Centre for Science and Environment. He explains that while he doesn’t see the North American lifestyle changing any time soon, he hopes to see renewables such as solar and wind becoming cheaper and solving the problem of fossil-dependent consumption. DiCaprio breaks off when Narain starts to shake her head vigorously and listens as she talks about how both India and China are investing more in solar power than the USA and urges them to take up leadership on renewable energy.

This is the vein in which Before the Flood is presented. The Hollywood star, as the United Nations Messenger of Peace on Climate Change, is on a mission to see “how far we have gone, how much damage we’ve done and if there’s anything we can do to stop it”. DiCaprio asks some hard questions at times and at others, steps back and lets the experts do the talking. The 95-minute documentary, directed by Fisher Stevens, was premiered on the National Geographic channel on October 30 and was released online simultaneously.

In many ways, Before the Flood feels like a follow-up to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth – it runs with the science, but backs it with real-life examples, making the facts less abstract and more tangible. The film feels a lot more real as it examines the impact of climate change on the ground rather than poring over models or newspaper articles. Show, rather than tell, is what makes Before the Flood different.

Play
‘Before the Flood’.

DiCaprio deploys his stardom to make people listen to many uncomfortable truths. “As an actor, I pretend for a living,” he says during a speech at a UN Assembly. “I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe that mankind has looked at climate change in the same way.” Like he does in his films, DiCaprio heads off to locations across the world (all offset by a voluntary carbon tax) to explore a subject that he humbly explains “the more I know, the more I realise how much I don’t know”.

The actor’s quest takes him to Alberta in Canada, Greenland, Baffin Island in the Arctic, India, China, Pulau, Kiribati and the Sumatra islands – all places that have been affected by fossil fuel extraction and climate change. He uses his celebrity pull to interview Barack Obama and meet the Pope. He also talks to corporate bosses, policy makers, scientists and environment activists.

“If we have to fight climate change, we have to start by acknowledging most of our economy is based on fossil fuels,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the environmental organisation Sierra Club. Brune goes on to explain how the world is employing extreme methods to remove these resources, including fracking, offshore drilling for oil, and tar sands. “There is not thing such as clean fossil fuels,” Brune adds. Proof of Brine’s statements emerges in footage of the devastation wreaked by crude oil extraction in Alberta. What were once boreal forests are now barren potholes of oil.

At Baffin Island in Canada, DiCaprio listens as Arctic guide Jake Awa guide tells him that the solid blue ice is melting faster than ever before, like ice cream. In Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, climatologist Jason E Box warns that climate change projections are actually conservative, and that the effects will be far worse than imagined.

Leonardo DiCaprio (in green) in ‘Before the Flood’. Courtesy National Geographic.
Leonardo DiCaprio (in green) in ‘Before the Flood’. Courtesy National Geographic.

DiCaprio then jets off to Asia and the Pacific. He looks at alarming pollution levels in China, the impact of unprecedented rainfall on farming in India, the future of island nations such as Palau and Kiribati, and the devastation caused by the palm oil industry in Sumatra. Back home, DiCaprio heads to Miami in Florida, a state susceptible to flooding as the sea water level rises. Mayor Philip Levine says that the City of Miami Beach is investing 400 million dollars on a project to put in electrical pumps to drain out the water and to raise road levels. This adaptation measure will only last for 50 years. This from a state that in 2011 stopped the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from using the words “climate change” and “global warming”.

American public opinion on climate change has been adversely influenced by the nexus between policy makers and fossil fuel industries and climate change deniers, many of whom are in the media. Levine puts it succinctly, “The ocean is not Republican. It’s not Democrat. All it knows is how to rise.”

The film also questions reckless fossil fuel-addicted consumption while touching on climate refugees and livelihood and food security. Some solutions emerge out of the thicket of warnings: the filmmakers advocate the enforcement of the 2015 Paris Agreement – a deal in which world leaders agreed to limiting global warming to well below 2°C – substantial investment in renewal energy, and carbon tax.

The overall impact is undeniably powerful. Beforethe Flood invokes a sense of urgency when it comes to protecting the earth’s biodiversity. There is room for wonder too at nature’s riches. At Baffin Island, DiCaprio looks on in awe at a group of narwhals. Enric Sala, National Geographic explorer-in-residence, says, “I don’t want to be in a planet without these animals.” Moments like these demand that Before the Flood be watched, absorbed, and acted upon.

Corrections and clarifications: The article has been edited to reflect the fact that the City of Miami Beach is the entity investing $400M on a project to put in electrical pumps.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

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.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

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.

Play

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.

Play

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.

Play

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.”

Play

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.