Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Hospitals beckon managers

With more and more corporate-run hospitals being set up in India, the demand for hospital administrators is growing. Countries like West Asia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh too are looking to India for trained manpower in this field, writes Manish Kumar Singal

Hospital administration has emerged as a field with immense scope.
Hospital administration has emerged as a field with immense scope. Photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Hospitals are havens of hope for people suffering from pain and illness. It is not merely the treatment meted out to the patient but the overall atmosphere of a hospital that a patient remembers after discharge.

What, then, makes a hospital good or bad? The quality of doctors, medical facilities or its administration? The answer is: All. Inefficiency or inadequacy even in one area can mar the image of an institution.

Owing to preoccupation with medical work, doctors cannot always be expected to be good administrators. There is thus a need for professional management of hospitals.

Hospital Administration as a separate programme was taken up for the first time in the US in the 1960s. Later, the concept spread to other countries and most hospitals in European countries came to be headed by hospital administrators. Even in India, corporate hospitals like Apollo and Escorts Heart Institute now have a good number of these professionals.

Where to learn

Apart from the institute run by Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, the other institutes offering courses in hospital administration are: All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi; Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad; Armed Forces Medical College, Pune; Kasturba Medical College, Manipal; The National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi; University of Delhi, Faculty of Management Studies. 

Though it is not highly visible like the work of doctors and nurses, the behind-the-scenes management of a hospital entails a lot of responsibilities and is a round-the clock job. From ensuring that the corridors are sparkling clean to keeping life-saving machines in working order to attending to patients' complaints and catering needs--the hospital administrators perform multifarious tasks.

According to Anil Maini, Escorts Heart Institute, "Healthcare administration is getting popular day by day and these professionals are now in demand not only in private hospitals but also government ones."

Maini says, "Healthcare administration is now being taught in leading schools in Delhi and other metropolitan cities. At present, we have around 40 professionals with Masters in Hospital Administration (MHA)."

The Indian Society of Health Administrators (ISHA), established in 1979, has been organising conferences, seminars and training programmes to train management trainees as well as administrators. ISHA has helped not in planning new hospitals but also rejuvenating sick hospitals and training the staff in healthcare.

There is scope for healthcare management not only in allopathy but also ayurveda, homeopathy, nature cure etc. Basically, the idea is to provide the treatment in a healthy atmosphere and organize work so that treatment can be administered to patients promptly and systematically.

Says Indu, spokesperson for Apollo Hospital, "We are running our own institute in Hyderabad that offers Masters in Hospital Management (MHM)."

Prashant, a Hospital Administrator in Apollo Hospital, says, "If a person has interest in the hospital line and is ready to work long hours, this profession is suited to him. There is a tremendous scope in this field as more and more corporate hospitals are coming up in India. Even government hospitals have started hiring hospital administrators."

"The scope for hospital administrators is vast as even medical institutions in West Asia, Dhaka and Colombo are looking for professionals from India. Apollo hospital has employed more than 100 Hospital Administrators in different branches," he adds.

"The minimum qualification is graduation. After completing the course, the candidate gets a starting salary of Rs 10,000 which increases as you move higher up," says Prashant.

Dr. Karan Singh, Member Anti Quackery Cell, Government of Delhi, says, "Many government hospitals send their administrative staff to different institutes to get specialised training in this field. The idea behind these courses is to keep doctors away from administrative responsibilities so that they can focus on medical work."


"Focus on investor ties paid off"

Rajesh ChaturvediHaving lasted more than two decades in the rough and tumble of the advertising world, Rajesh Chaturvedi, founding partner of Adfactors, says that "he still has a long way to go."

His professional journey started in the early 1980s, when along with a close friend, Madan Bahl, driven by the desire to turn entrepreneurs, he decided to set up shop with no money of his own. "We started with money borrowed from friends," he reminisces.

Chaturvedi was working with the marketing department of a newspaper then. He met Bahl while pursuing a course in marketing management in Mumbai and they decided to take the plunge. "I always had the desire to win and succeed. This may have been a throwback to my days as a sportsperson," says Chaturvedi, a former hockey player.

''Initially, the competition was cutthroat and clients were hard to come by. We subsisted on campaigns of furniturewallahs, jewellery showrooms and the like," he recalls.

The big break came in the late 1980s, when Adfactors started working on IPOs and investor relations. "We have created a niche in financial campaigns and investor relations. We have held several road shows for our clients," he says.

"We started as a two-man outfit, but now have more than 300 employees." he says with pride.

Gaurav Choudhury