Outliers 69: Dr Gullapalli Nageswara Rao on shaping the future of eye care with compassion, disruptive tech

Pankaj Mishra August 31, 2018

“Always remember the poor who gave their bodies for you to learn medicine. You owe it to them.”

Every time a new batch of ophthalmologists joins LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, its founder Dr Gullapalli Nageswara Rao tries to instill a sense of empathy for India’s poor. “The rich didn’t even let you touch their bodies for research. It’s the poor…”

Dr Rao has been able to combine world class healthcare with compassion in his career. In three decades, his institute has treated over 20 million patients, with nearly half of them availing the services for free. (The institute is named after filmmaker and producer Lakshmi Vara Prasad Rao, who contributed money and land for it.)

The institute came on my radar when I read recent announcements about an “eye hackathon”. What’s an eye hospital looking to achieve from hackathon — a contest among coders typically known to be organized by startups and large companies to hunt down the next big idea?

“We’re now trying to build an institute in Amravati for the future, looking at how eyecare can be delivered in 20, 50 years from now,” Dr Rao tells me.


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