March 22, 2008

Doctors taking corporate road in medicine

From stethoscopes and white coats to business suits and laptops. A growing number of doctors are now taking the corporate road in medicine.

For 33-year old orthopedic surgeon Vishal Beri with nine years of experience in clinical practice - getting into the Indian school of business, Hyderabad has paid off.

It's given him a chance to enter the senior-management level in India's growing healthcare industry. Now he has two offers in hand to run operations at large corporate hospitals.

Vishal Beri says, “Once upon a time it was okay to be a doctor and may be manage your small practice. But now with corporate healthcare coming in a big and hospitals are opened every month, just having only medical knowledge is not enough.''

And many doctors seem to agree with Beri. According to the Indian medical association, as many as thousand doctors enrolled into management programmes in the last academic year. The current academic batch at ISB Hyderabad has 10 doctors.

A booming healthcare industry - which is growing at over 40 per cent - has meant a strong demand for doctors with managerial skills.”

''Initially that 20 bed hospitals and 50 bed hospitals are moving in scale to 100-bed hospitals. The old partnership structure where two doctors coming together is changing. As scale is changing we have private equity firms willing to look at investing in hospitals. As a result the organisational skills that are required one to raise money in terms of brand, human resources and in terms of stronger processes. It's difficult for a doctor to learn on the road,'' Partner, Ernst & Young Utkarsh Palnitkar says.

The healthcare sector got a break in the budget too a 5-year tax holiday for setting up hospitals in tier-2 and tier-3 towns.

Wockhardt, Apollo hospitals; Fortis healthcare and local brands like global hospitals in Hyderabad have plans to scale up operations in the next four years.

In fact, the scarcity is so high that corporate hospitals often have to import managers to head their operations.

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