Healthcare in India, by Dr. Sameer A. Khan, CEO, Rockland Hospitals

Dr.  Sameer A. Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Rockland Hospitals had an interactive session with students of TAPMI’s Healthcare Management programme at TAPMI, Manipal on the 22nd of November, 2013.

He began by speaking about his education and early professional life. He set a humorous tone early on by joking about how his 8 year stint with Fortis was long enough to be compared with ‘sarkari’ jobs! He talked about his current role at Rockland Hospitals and his challenges there.He opined that these challenges and this period of growth are interesting times for him and his company. He joked about how a CEO never works except to keep the team happy!

He made a presentation giving students an overview of the Healthcare industry in India right from humble beginnings a couple of decades ago to the present scenarios and likely future growth. The timeline showed students the evolution of the healthcare industry and how the industry has come a long way from having only Govt. run hospitals to the present day scenario of Medicities and multi-speciality hospital chains. He spoke about how healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP is abysmally low compared to other nations, lowest even among the BRIC nations. Another statistic worthy of note was how 40% of all hospital beds in India are in the top 20 cities which are home to only 10% of the nation’s population. But he said this shouldn’t be viewed as a sorry state but rather an opportunity for growth in the industry both for existing players and new entrants. 

Responding to a query from one of the students he listed key drivers of growth for the healthcare industry – growing population, rising income levels, increase in afflictions of burden diseases, greater availability to insurance coverage and of course increased accessibility to healthcare services.

His presentation also covered opportunity segments in terms of healthcare delivery in India. He revealed that even now the majority of healthcare spending by people is from their own pocket with only minor portion being covered by insurance support. He spoke about how the service of healthcare can be seen as an assembly line through which the patient must pass through started with a patient with a health problem and ending with a cured patient.

Towards the end of the presentation he shared his valuable insights on leadership styles that work and those that don’t in the corporate world. He also spoke about the values and the importance of collaborative leadership. He said a good leader is one who puts enough responsibility in the hands of his team such that learn from their experience and grow will still holding on to enough to maintain his ownership of the project. He said that as a leader unless you let go of the reigns at times your team is not going to learn. That the best way for them to learn is to discover some answers on their own and how a leader should facilitate such learning.

After his presentation he encouraged students to engage him in an interactive discussion and the students responded with questions posed to him. In response to a question about methods to inspire customer/patient loyalty he said nothing works better than being an ethical service provider and to treat patients well with care. He said the best way for a hospital to grow is through word of mouth reviews and those will happened naturally if a hospital sticks to the fundamentals of ethical treatment and patient care.

The last query of the day was on what opportunities non-doctors have in the healthcare management industry. To this Dr. Khan responded by saying he believes non-doctors are in no way inferior to doctors when it comes to managing healthcare services. He even saying non-doctors have a distinct edge over doctors with no management training because doctors are trained to be fiercely independent and are not exposed to collective thinking which is an everyday requirement in a management role. In conclusion he said though there may be a bit of learning for them to do in terms of medical terminology and protocol. He said there’s no reason for non-doctors to worry about not fitting in to management in the healthcare industry.

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