In the early days of February 2021, I had an opportunity to converse with the man behind various successful turnaround healthcare institutions around the country including the one he leads today as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the renowned Bangalore based multi-specialty health facility, Vikram Hospital (Bengaluru) Pvt. Limited (Vikram Hospital).
Dr. Somesh Mittal, leads with his insightful wealth of knowledge, skills and experience in healthcare to form a symphony between the hundreds of allied health staff, renowned 70 specialists, and the management. He travels an extra mile to iterate the latest technology to equip the professionals with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and advanced surgical technology to treat patients under the Vikram Hospital's roof.
Wind under the wings of one of the most profitable hospitals in Bangalore, Vikram Hospital, Dr. Mittal ensures the most effective treatment to patients. He drives the Vikram Hospital team of experienced professionals to lead an endeavor offering personalized experience to each patient and family that enters through the hospital doors.
From turning around hospitals to transforming lives with health-technology in near future, here's an insight into the interview with the new-age visionary Dr. Somesh Mittal:
Somesh: With each role and position I have held, different people from all walks of life have shaped my career. One such incident which immediately comes to my mind is a dialogue I had with a stalwart leader 15 years ago. I had already been a leader in healthcare for 7-8 years at that time.
I met him intending to join the organization he led as a Chairman. He asked me "What is your role?" Back then, I was a medical superintendent. To answer the question asking me to elaborate on what I do, I said, I take care of medical processes and all the doctors, nurses, paramedics report to me.
He became fond of me and said: "Dr Somesh, let me give you one advice" and offered one of the best piece of advice I had received. He said: "Doctors report to no one." The message he imparted was if you treat doctors as employees, there will always be a divide between doctors and management, which is one of the core issues in the private healthcare industry.
To bridge this gap, one must understand that doctors are self-accountable and we, as professionals in management, coordinate, understand their needs and work with them to ensure seamless execution of processes. Since this dialogue, I had started working with a similar mindset to ensure an ideal scenario. This eventually became a foundation of the transformation I led in many hospitals.
Somesh: I joined a hostel at the early age of 10, where they groom you to become an army or navy officer. To cherry the cake, I root from a sports background having played boxing at the nationallevel, reached the Indian camp, and defeated an Asian gold medalist.
With such training very early on in my life, I went on to graduate and post-graduation in medicine and worked in a surgical role in both neuro-surgery and onco-surgery. Eventually, the path to my administrative career began with my MBA from Faculty of Management Studies.
Each of these roles from being trained for an army officer position, to boxing, to practicing as a surgeon involves an element of challenge and to be able to strategize on the spot and promptly, in any given unforeseen and unprecedented situation. What motivates me is a challenge. I tend to work efficiently under pressure.
Somesh: As a CEO or a leader in any industry, key learning has to be continuously trying new things. if you don't make these decisions, then you miss the chance of growing and succeeding. One must look forward to taking calculated risks and try out things without worrying about the results. One who doesn't try fails anyway. Create a balance of 80% routine decisions and 20% of decisions targeting progress.
Somesh: Unlike the leaders a decade back, we are now endowed with technology and opportunities in abundance to take a dynamic decision. In the healthcare industry, technology plays a significant role, availability of healthcare in Tier 2 cities, and now a good budget, each institute has its own decision to make.
For example, we started our journey in turning around Vikram Hospital by marking the institute with a branding iron. We studied our prime location of the central Bangalore and our target clientele of cash-paying patients and realized that Vikram Hospital should be able to provide a personalized experience to each patient and his family.
My action plan included using technology as well as involving doctors who understand our vision. Thus, we employed a majority of middle-aged doctors who are experienced and at the same time are tech-savvy.
Somesh: Vikram Hospital has transitioned from a written-off venture into one of the most profitable hospitals in the country. It does a significantly good amount of EBITDA between a range of 28% to 30%, unheard of in healthcare. It enjoys a top-notch status in various financial parameters today. However, we aim to expand Vikram Hospital with three new hospitals and also invest in a new IT-Healthcare niche.
In the upcoming years, healthcare will be followed by homecare. With this in mind, we are working on initiatives allowing us to take patients' load off hospitals and offer online post-hospitalization care. Our homecare vertical will allow communication and supervision of stats remotely. This will enable Vikram Hospital to pick early signals and signs rather than patients coming in later with worsening conditions.
Somesh: During the early stages, we witnessed a tough situation having one of the earliest patients of COVID-19 in Bangalore admitted into the hospital without informing us about their travel history. As we transitioned from that stage and adopted measures, we took some decisions that made us come from the pandemic with flying colors.
While initially, we could see hospitals cutting salaries of doctors and other staff by thirty to fifty per cent. The top management at Vikram Hospital decided to wait and study the challenge. We created a team for Covid-19 patients, but as a result of our decision of not cutting salaries, offering incentives and treatment free of cost, more of our staff came forward and volunteered to treat Covid-19 patients.
And we stepped forward to ensure end-to-end treatment including paid one-month leave after the treatment. We maintained our manpower and eventually three months down the line, we were able to maintain our financial balance.
Lastly, I believe, the pandemic has taught significantly to every section of society. This was the first time I realized the importance of my parents as I spent some time working from home initially. Along with the work-life balance, the world was pushing the need of using technology to communicate which was shown as an efficient solution professionally.