MBAs with no medical background: The worst thing to happen to Indian Private Healthcare System in the last 20 years?
Till 20-25 years ago, almost every private hospital in India was managed by doctors at the top. That time, the country was much poorer than now.
Private hospitals were beyond the common man’s reach even at that time. Patient’s inability to pay bills was even more common. Hospitals, being managed mostly by doctors themselves, used to routinely waive off bills if they were convinced of the patient’s situation.
Things were fine and the profession was respected as a noble one.
Then 2-3 decades ago, some smart-arsed businessman in the education sector seems to have worked out that doctors are illiterate when it comes to “smart” finance, profiteering and “real business”.
MBA in hospital management and MHA (Masters in Hospital administration) courses quickly gained traction. Hospital owners, usually doctors, started falling for the sweet talks- that these newcomers into the medical healthcare system would help them cut losses, minimize wastage, and generate huge profits.
Thus, these “managers” with zero idea about human life- were allowed to creep into the ‘sanctum sanctorum’ of human healthcare.
A closer look would reveal that many of these so-called MBAs are bought by distance or online mode with no need to see any hospital, doctor or patient for most part!
In short, these healthcare MBAs are like claiming to be experts at riding a bicycle after reading a book on bicycles, but never having touched a bicycle in their whole life!
How is that?
To make matters worse, unfortunately, hardly anyone among these MBAs was a “real” doctor.
No “manager” knew what it was to study 16 hours per day, work 30-36 hours at a stretch and sleep only 4-6 hours after that.
No manager knew the sinking feeling of looking into the eyes of an un-affording patient and telling him that you have to bring more money to live.
Try putting these shit-headed managers at this kind of work. 90% will quit after a month.
The only thing these managers knew was numbers, numbers and numbers.
On one hand, doctors are trained only to care for suffering humans, and money came second.
On the other extreme, these new “managers” were genetically programmed to be blind to humanity and look only at numbers and cash.
Like the Britishers who had originally come as traders of pepper and spices to India and gradually usurped the whole country, these hospital managers followed a similar path.
Like the cruel British masters who gradually started imposing “taxes” on Indian people and Kings, these medical managers gradually started dictating the terms to doctors and made them slaves of the system.
Those who came in to “assist” hospital owners became de-facto dictators in hospitals.
Initially, only low-level doctors were bullied. Most doctors are inherently well-behaved, polite and submissive. The MBAs realised that pretty fast. Later on, as the pool of doctors increased, even the top-level doctors, previously kings in their own hospitals, were not spared.
Doctors started getting addressed as if they were their servants, as mere employees, by their first name, or at best, “doctor” rather than the previous respectful title of “sir” or “maa’m”.
The poor doctors know nothing else in life apart from being doctors. That’s the only job they have. So they tolerated all this and lived through the abuses.
Now, everyone has become “accountable”.
Everything has become “accountable”.
Every. DAMN. thing.
Do you know? Some hospital managers even levy parking charges from doctors to let them park their cars in reserved slots in the hospitals where they work! What could be more symbolic of newer lows of crass commercialisation of the healthcare system?
“Doctor, who told you to give that patient the discount”?
“Ok doctor, we will help the patient by waving your fees of 1000 rupees for the last 3 days, but your patient will have to cough up the remaining 2 lakhs, or we will cut it from your next 6 months salary”,
And the most despised:
” Doctor, you have not met the three months’ financial target”.
Which means, you are in trouble.
Note this: The patient is not in much trouble, the hospital is not in trouble, the manager is not at all in trouble.
ONLY doctors are in trouble- but not the incompetent doctors who make money for the managers to flaunt in their growth charts.
It is the competent and ethical doctors who stick to fair practices who bear most of the corporate managerial taunts and bullying.
Like the proverbial frog that was kept in a pan of slowly heating water, but didn’t realise that it was getting cooked even when the water started boiling. Doctors in corporate hospitals of India are like that boiling frog, adapting to a dirty system bit by bit.
Almost every doctor starts off good. Wanting to do good. But then Govt rules, social rules, and finally, if in the corporate sector, these non-medical managers’ rules gradually changes them all into hard-skinned individuals.
Now when a patient suddenly encounters a huge medical bill, there is an outcry. Why was this not happening 20 years ago, when doctors were in charge? Why should today’s doctors bear the humiliation of being called dirty names, for the unreasonable greed of money-minded, pea-brained manager’s policies?
Healthcare must be led by doctors only. Not by MBAs and MHAs in an arts or commerce background. Health care must be rooted in humane behaviour, and not cut-throat business.
Doctors must take up the mantle. Indian doctors must prove that they are, indeed, cream of the intelligentsia, and must refuse to be bossed over by measly commerce grads.
India struggled two hundred years to get back its independence from foreign invaders. During that time, India was looted of 95% of its wealth.
Now, it is these commercial MBA “damagers” who are looting the medical profession of its independence, humanity, charm, respect and even credibility.
Dirty competitiveness between hospitals also has its origins in imbecile managerial approaches.
There was a time 20 years ago, when prime advertising spaces in cities did not flaunt large, ugly hoardings of hospital advertisements.
Yes, that was the time when hospitals were run by DOCTORS. That was when the competition and attitude was healthy. That is till the “managers” poked their noses inside these hospitals.
It is high time to throw out these managerial weeds out of the Indian healthcare system. It is time to bring back humanity into the way hospitals are managed. Where service again becomes the main aim, and the profit becomes a mere by-product of the process.
Where doctors, instead of being harassed 24X7 with numbers, are left to do what they do best- look after patients and hospitals with a free hand.
Everyone can be happy again.
Let those so-called smart “managers” search elsewhere for better jobs, rather than being allowed to worsen the misery of both: sufferers and healers.
Thanks for reading this.
If you are a doctor who works in corporate sector, please think and work to correct this sorry situation.
Maybe there are 10-20% corporate hospitals who don’t fall into the category discussed in this message (as yet). In that case, God Bless You and hope you are able to practice the same way for a long time more.
By an Indian Doctor.
(From the post of Dr. Atul Agarwal)