People First

As healthcare organisations begin to grow, intellectual capital – its people play a strategic role in shaping its future. The panel discussion on People First highlighted the need for healthcare organisations to invest in building a competent as well as cohesive workforce, build a leadership culture and engage in talent management in order to be future ready. The panel comprising of Dr Alexander Thomas, Chairman, AHPI (Moderator); Zoya Brar, CMD & Founder, Core Diagnostics; Dr Abhijit Sinha Roy, Medical Director, Westminster Healthcare; Col Binu Sharma, VP, Nursing Columbia Asia Hospital & President, INS India and Dinesh Bhasin, Vice President- HR & Learning Solutions,  Berkeley HealthEDU discussed ways and means to enhance productivity, increase collaboration among various teams, retain critical corporate and clinical knowledge that will eventually increase profitability.

The moderator of the session Dr Thomas began by saying, “We will all agree that people are the most important investment for any organisation. You can have the best infrastructure, the latest technology and equipment but if your workforce is not competent than all would be in vein. Therefore it is critical for organisations to invest in building a strong workforce.” With this he set the tone for the discussion. He spoke about the important aspects that the panel would based their discussion on- integrity, consistence, good communication, build courage and confidence as well as competency.The panel discussed the common challenges  their healthcare organisations face. They also shared examples of best practices and innovation that they have come up with and how they went on to bring achievable and measurable results to their efforts.

Dr Roy, spoke about the challenge of talent acquisition and retention in healthcare. “To get the right people for your organisation it is important to have the right branding. Also, it is important to create the wow factor for your organisation. If we do not have something that will attract the best talent, it will be very difficult to build a competent and talented workforce for your organisation”, he said. He also raised concerns on the need to check credentials of every healthcare professional. He went on to say that a background check is a must, especially while hiring senior doctors.

Col Sharma pondered further on this aspect of talent acquisition and retention. She went on to inform that currently in India we have a large population, we have thousands of institutes for doctors, nurses, lab trainings etc., however, people are not job ready when they complete their education. “The percentage of employability on an average remains at less than 20 per cent. So that mean around 80 per cent of the freshers from healthcare education institutes when they get hired they are just not ready for the job, this makes the talent acquisition and retention a tall task. Also, when the percentage of skill manpower is so small, every hospital and healthcare organisation fights to acquire this talent. Organisations usually engage in poaching but sometimes this complicates the job market.”

Further, Col Sharma also pointed out the issue of talent exodus. Adding to this, Dr Thomas, shared an example of his mission hospital in Bangalore. He informed that despite the immense talent poaching done by four corporate hospitals in the vicinity, their mission hospital had an extremely less attrition rate. He said that the reason behind this was the management ensured a conducive work environment for employees which made them feel involved and wanted.

Bhasin brought to the table an outside industry perspective. He explained how the automotive, power, infrastructure, telecom industries engage in talent management and upliftment. He pointed out that Microsoft invests around  $180 millions to upscale its workforce. He then questioned the audience on the amount of investment that their respective healthcare organisations make to upscale the skill set of their employees so that they can move ahead with the vision of the company.

Further, he went on to say that healthcare organisations should not just focus on functional training but also on business training. “Hospitals in India are exploring opportunities in medical tourism, however, how many of the medical practitioners are capable of handling medical tourism patients in terms of their rule, regulations etc. Similarly, hospitals are also vying to explore opportunities in geriatric care and home health segment, but how many healthcare professional are capable of handling these patients and are skilled enough to provide such services?”, he questioned.

Bhasin also pointed out that a learning culture within the organisation is critical for the growth of any organisation. It calls for a strong leadership that will influence a learning culture. Moreover, he disclosed that invariable within the industry, the weakest link is the appropriate induction of people into the system. “All of people from outside the healthcare domain are joining healthcare organisations. Are they really well inducted into the system?”, he asked. “This is a challenges that alot of healthcare organisation face and is usually ignored”, he added.

Moving on, Brar brought in a completely new perspective. She spoke about her organisation which is outcome oriented and yet serves an cohesive environment. She spoke of how they thrive in a culture that is built on three important ingredients – trust, transparency and training.

While focussing on the hiring aspect, Brar informed that in an interview they do not ask many questions to the candidate. Infact they ask the candidate to ask the interviewer questions. By doing so, they believe that the questions asked by the candidate explains a lot about the person. Moreover, her organisation follows an open working environment – where people do not have personal cabins or offices and people address each other on their first name basis. That creates a feeling of equality to a certain extends. Plus, they also conduct a change leaders programme for their employee, wherein they induct ten employees every month. This induction involves casual chats on tier experiences, problems, ideas etc. This facilitates them to instill the values of transparency among employees, she informed.

This discussion lead to alot of questions from the audience. Questions about appropriate salaries, how much investment should be made in training people, how do organisations ensure that they maintain transparency, how can hospitals build leadership programmes for their employees and more.