The pandemic may have exposed the gaps in the country’s expanded health ecosystem, but on the plus side, this massive challenge is proving to be an opportunity to expand health infrastructure. “A multi-pronged strategy and an entrepreneurial approach are the order of the day. Although our doctors have shown a high level of resilience and commitment in the fight against the Covid-19 challenge, they, along with related health professionals, require extensive skills that include not only specialist knowledge and related expertise, but also solid corporate governance and administrative skills ” says Antarpreet Singh, former director of Alcatel Lucent University in the Asia-Pacific region and an expert in digital transformation. He explains that doctors need to be trained in various management areas such as strategic management, human capital development, financial management and digital transformation. “You work intensively with digital machines and artificial intelligence. Machine learning algorithms help doctors diagnose and treat patients with high precision. In such a scenario, there is a great opportunity for our business and technology schools to introduce management courses ranging in duration from 6 months to a year. These programs can be offered in a mixed format to focus on creating a balanced portfolio of leadership skills for physicians. Such courses need to include both functional management skills and digital transformation skills, ”he adds.
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Role change Himanshu Rai, director of IIM Indore, believes management programs can help improve physicians’ skills, especially as they are often viewed as a means of maximizing returns in resource constrained and challenging environments. “This context has become the new norm in hospitals, and clinicians have the added responsibility of managing resources and excessive needs, dealing with subordinates and colleagues, staying motivated and motivating others, under immense pressure. Management education has always focused on tools and techniques to address the above challenges, ”he says. “With increasing patient numbers, limited resources, a lack of motivated workforce, and difficulty managing their personal lives, clinicians can use management training to better plan and perform their tasks,” added Rai. To meet this demand, IIM Indore is offering a free online leadership management program called Kritajna for 100 doctors from July 31 to November 7, 2021, which helps doctors develop strategies for negotiation, conflict and change management. A one-year online Post Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management with weekend courses is also being planned.
Need for a Strategic Mindset
Sowmya Shashidhara, Deputy Director of the Max Institute of Healthcare Management, Indian School of Business (ISB), emphasizes the changing dynamics of the health sector: “In the past, individual doctor constellations were the norm. Medical care has come a long way since then. Newer delivery models are emerging, and as investments increase, efficiency and accountability are demanded. As a result, the professionalization of health care as a discipline has emerged. To do this, the New Age clinicians must develop a strategic mindset in decision-making roles and move from intuitive leadership to the application of proven leadership principles. A formal management program can help here. ”
For this purpose, ISB offers a one-year Advanced Management Program for Healthcare (AMPH) for clinicians, administrators and other aspiring executives from related sub-sectors such as healthcare IT, biotech, pharmaceuticals, etc.
The right time to enroll
What is the right time to participate in such programs, Shashidhara says that the realization that doctors alone cannot affect patient outcomes and that there is an entire system of which they are part leads to thoughts of either improving the current system or develop a new system (business model). “This phase of their career is a perfect time for doctors to enroll in a management program,” she adds.
Today’s health systems are complex, she claims. “To provide profitable, high quality care, the physician must understand the business aspect of health care. Our alumni from our health program have taken on extended management roles as Facility Directors, COO of hospitals or Head of New Business. Increasingly, many of our graduates are also daring to take the entrepreneurial leap into technology-oriented startups as well as traditional companies. What they continue to reap is a changed mindset, ”adds Shashidhara.
Even if a doctor wishes to continue or expand their own practice after the course, the leadership and management skills they have acquired can add value to their work alongside the regular hospital setting, ”says Rajesh Bhattacharya, Associate Professor, Public Policy and Management Group, IIM Calcutta, which offers a year-long healthcare management program that teaches aspirants to understand the current health landscape, including health analysis, health economics, and public policy, among other things. “No matter how you incorporate these aspects into your career, there is no getting around it in the current health scenario. So getting a professional qualification is a smooth and logical path, ”he adds.