Stretching out to unchartered territories in managing healthcare

Dr. Manisha Karmarkar, COORuby Hall Clinic Wanowarie, Pune

Her passion and curiosity to understand the Human body was one of the most compelling reason to enter medicine, says Dr. Manisha Karmarkar. While studying Anaesthesia at Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital, her interest in medicine reached its zenith and she was sure that this passion would only grow with time. Quite sure that medicine would be a career driven by service, she recalls how she was tasked with putting others first ; yet allowing her to be a life-long learner, where her field of expertise would continually expand.

It was over two decades ago, in the year 1995 when Dr. Manisha started her career as a Senior Registrar in Ruby Hall Clinic’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Two years later, she was recruited as a consultant in the Department of Anaesthesiology. From thereon, she went on to take up the role of the Director – OT Services at Ruby Hall Clinic while being offered the same role at it’s satellite centres in other locatiosn in Pune. Her most cherished moment came in when the CEO of the Group, Mr. Bomi Bhote offered her the role of the COO. Dr. Manisha readily took up the role, which she felt was a powerful perch for leading the drive for improved quality of care, patient safety and clinical efficiency.

With a solid academic background and years of hands-on experience in crucial care-giving, Dr. Manisha strongly feels, that it is about time that Women are given credit for their endeavours. She took a strategic approach to help Women move efficiently along their desired career path to reach their goals. This resulting into Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowarie becoming India’s only all-women managed tertiary hospital adds on to her perseverance & strive.

‘It is very motivating to be believed in and shoulder so many responsibilities ; in this positive, encouraging and open-minded atmosphere, I have indeed become the best version of myself, adds Dr. Manisha.

The recipient of the ‘Heatlhcare Woman Icon’ Award by BERG Singapore at the 3rd Icons of Healthcare Summit & Awards, Singapore 2018, Dr. Manisha shares some interesting insights from her career & journey in this interview with team ABT.

What life events started you on your path to becoming a medical professional?
For many individuals who decide to become a doctor, it takes years of personal introspection & learning. And for others, it’s always been their life’s calling to pursue medical school and ultimately don the iconic white coat. For me though, it’s always been a very personal one. Having grown up first seeing my father work as a doctor, and then eventually my brother, it’s perhaps these events which inspired me the most.

It was not just their hard work and dedication that touched a chord, but also their power to heal and a sense of satisfaction of curing people of their agony and suffering. Most importantly, it was the gratitude, respect and appreciation that people felt towards them that mattered to me. There is truly nothing more heartening than the gratitude filled ‘thank you’ a doctor receives for giving a patient another lease of life.

Moreover, being a very focused student all through my academic years gave me the motivation to undertake the long hours of study required at medical school. It has always been in my nature to enjoy a good challenge, and see it through successfully. Perhaps this facet too helped me not just enjoy but thrive the gruelling years of studies.

Post my MBBS, it was my husband who motivated me to pursue anaesthetics as a specialisation. With him being a surgeon and me an anaesthetist, I thought we’d make a perfect match in the operating theatre! As the years passed, my experience in the operation theatres allowed me to voice and tackle the limitations of the OTs and this in turn made the management see potential in me as a leader. Thereafter, an MBA in healthcare just had to be in the wings. The rest, as they say, is history.

My journey to the medical profession as a student, a specialist and ultimately as a leader has been life changing. And it goes without saying that I’ve loved every moment!

Tell us about your most cherished milestone. 

I have the incredibly demanding yet fulfilling responsibility of a large, complex organisation with a diverse workforce in a strict regulatory environment. While each day brings its own set of challenges in this ever-changing healthcare landscape, I see my most cherished milestone as making our hospital the only all-women managed tertiary healthcare centre in the country.

When I first joined Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowarie as the COO, I had set my eyes to accomplish it all. I soon realised that healthcare management isn’t just a man’s world anymore. As the healthcare landscape evolved, the need for gender diversity in our leadership ranks became more evident than ever before.

Backed by a formidable team of Women managers in various departments, each one of us leave no stone unturned in providing exceptional care with compassion. Moreover, with the addition of a large number of patient-centric facilities and so many more upcoming, I believe in always keeping the patient at the heart of what we do. This in turn, has led to transforming the financial prowess of the hospital with patient satisfaction levels constantly remaining above ninety percent.

Through a combination of Hospital Affiliations, Outpatient Specialty Care Centres, Healthcare Accreditations and Corporate partnerships, we have redefined ‘Swanky Healthcare’ while taking it to the next level.

Tell us about your experience at leading Ruby Hall’s all women unit at Pune.

It was the firm belief of my family and our CEO Mr. Bomi Bhote, my abilities that propelled me forward. As the first woman to lead what was yet to become one of India’s first all-women managed hospital, I felt a sense of responsibility to make my presence felt. However, I can happily say that my tenure at Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowarie has been marked both by small touches and broad strokes.

In the Ruby Hall environment, leadership has always been about promoting change. As a healthcare leader, I took it in my stride to change the delivery system. I had to do things differently than was done in the past, I had to set an example. With the support of Mr. Bhote, we strengthened the vision that a woman’s innate sense of multitasking and hospitality was what was needed to improve patient care. We thus began to recruit some of the most talented women in the industry and instil them with the confidence to take decisions on their own. Today, our 99% patient satisfaction results are proof of the pudding.

To stay patient focused, it was also essential that I involved my clinicians. Being a practicing anaesthetist allowed me to place myself in their position. It not only made our clinicians more involved, but it also made the system more efficient and transparent. Our employee friendly policies not only made our staff feel appreciated, loved, validated and nurtured — it also increased productivity levels. For instance, our work from home policy allows our women employees to efficiently juggle home and professional responsibilities.

Tell us about some of the milestones that Ruby Hall has achieved, in the recent past.

Ruby Hall has achieved some of the most prestigious accolades. It is with immense pride that I shoulder the onus of these achievements with my entire team. Some of our most commendable ones range from:

  • The acquirement of Pune’s first cGreen OT certification. Setting high standards for the medical fraternity, the hospital secured 91.2% making it one of the highest rankings received pan India.
  • A Gold LEED certification for Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowarie by the Indian Green Building Council making it one of India’s first certified green medical facilities.
  • Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowarie’s Emergency Medicine Department is the only one in the city and Western Maharashtra to have received an NABH certification
  • Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowarie has been awarded as one of the most promising Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics centre in the country by Silicon India. Coming to our patients, while the hospital itself is a tertiary care one, we do have a number of specialised clinics and camps catering to the needs of women. A few of these are: Fibroid Clinic, Menopause Clinic, Breast Clinic and breast oncoplastic surgery, IVF camps and others.

Moreover, the option of evening OPDs now enable working individuals to seek the care they need and still not miss a day at work and our investment in the latest technology including  our mammography machine enables us to help women live healthy lives to their fullest potential.

Your views on the changing landscape of healthcare delivery and the challenges ahead.

It’s amazing to look back at the transformation in our lives over the years, to become a technology driven world. If someone from the 19th century suddenly found themselves in today’s times, they would think they have been teleported into another world all together. The same can be said about our Instituion’s journey in healthcare. Advancements in Surgical Techniques, Superior Imaging, Electronic Health Records and Tele-medicine ; each of these have played significant roles sat Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowarie in improving the Healthcare Delivery & Quality services.

The healthcare industry is moving towards better integration and communication along the entire care continuum. Being diagnosed remotely via video may sound like ‘science fiction’ for some, but it will soon be a reality for many people whose employers have embraced tele-health for its potential to improve employee health while reducing costs and time off work. Telemedicine points out to a wave that’s building very strongly and our Virtual Clinics have joined this sea of change.

The Convergence of technology with Big data & Artificial Intelligence, Doctors are able to identify patterns in health that wouldn’t have been available to intuitive practitioners before. Ofcourse, there’s always the ongoing debate that technology is making healthcare disruptive, but I believe otherwise. With technology and the human touch going hand in hand, I honestly believe that this is the only way forward.

In medicine and healthcare, digital technology could help transform unsustainable healthcare systems into sustainable ones, stretch out its healing hand to unchartered territories, equalise the relationship between medical professionals and patients, provide cheaper, faster and more effective solutions for diseases – technologies could win the battle for us against cancer, AIDS or Ebola – and could simply lead to healthier individuals living in healthier communities.

If you were to do one thing differently, what would that be?

I have always believed that the moment you open your mind to doing things differently, the doors of opportunity will automatically open for you. Today, in healthcare, doing things differently is more important than it has ever been. The Indian Government has introduced a number of schemes to bring healthcare to the masses, but private hospitals still need to do so much more to make this a reality. It’s not just technological equipment, but the sheer lack of specialist access that is a worry. These are just a few of the big challenges for healthcare that we all need to meet with a clear head and a clear commitment to supporting general practices, and building healthier futures for our local communities.

Tell us about some of the initiatives at Ruby Hall which makes it one of the most leading & advanced healthcare provider today.

Reaching out to peripheral areas is a concept that has been woven into the fabric of the Grant Medical Foundation’s philosophy since the very beginning. We have over 30 peripheral centres equipped with high-end technological facilities, and now with and the advent of telemedicine in the form of our Virtual Clinics, expert access will also be available soon to our patients.

Our elderly and differently abled population may not always have the means to get the medical help they require, even though they may reside within urban boundaries. However, we’ve now rolled out a unique ‘Home Health Service’ for these very patients to ensure no one is unattended. By means of this initiative, a small team comprising of doctors, nurses and support staff personally visit the homes of these patients to provide basic medical aid.

By means of health camps, awareness events, promotions and reasonable medical packages, making healthcare affordable has always been a part of the agenda and is something we at Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowarie take very seriously. It’s our way of making a difference, of making the community healthier, one person at a time.

What would you like to achieve in the coming years?

I believe innovation isn’t an option, it is a necessity. To provide the most effective medical care, in-depth understanding of the patient is key, and recent advances in technology have allowed us medical professionals to gain a deeper insights.

We need to be positive, enthusiastic and encouraging as we visibly prepare ourselves for the changes ahead for healthcare. There is power in focusing on the opportunities that changes the present and our strategy for succeeding in a new paradigm is the way forward. Personally, I know we can do a better job of healthcare delivery and population health management. Those of us in healthcare leadership owe this to India and I am delighted to be part of the transformation.

It is our vision to transform Pune as the Global Healthcare Destination, recognised for its contribution to heal the world. While new challenges like those from non-communicable diseases continue to present risks, we strive to unite, to create a health system that stands as a beacon of excellence for the world.

Here is the link to the Video of Dr. Manisha Karmarkar at the 3rd Icons of Healthcare Summit & Awards 2018.