It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is complex and fast-growing with hundreds of laws, policies, and regulations, the wide range of potential professions and jobs, and daily developments in diagnosis, treatment, and medication, healthcare organizations have a lot to keep track of — and doing so thoroughly and professionally is vital to their success and the health of their patients.
Healthcare consultants are so valuable. Although becoming a healthcare consultant takes years of education, time, and skill development, it’s a position that’s crucial to the success of healthcare organizations across the globe.
Sudhir Rathore is a Healthcare entrepreneur and consultant with a primary focus on the African continent and he has worked in senior positions in various capacities with healthcare organizations like Fortis healthcare and Aster healthcare, also with prestigious groups like Aditya Birla Group and TATA in India. He bagged Bachelor of Science, Master of Business Administration degrees.
Sudhir founded SURJEN, a Healthcare delivery start-up, and integrated technology, health for medical services providers to achieve better healthcare delivery objectives in Africa. He is rated as among one of the best healthcare executives in Nigeria.
Sudhir Rathore is also a co-founder, director, and principal consultant at Troika Consulting. He shares his experience with ADEWALE ADENELE on why he focuses on Africa, the role of digitalization, and the future of the healthcare industry.
Below are excerpts:
How and why did you begin your journey as an independent consultant?
After working with various organizations for 15 good years in senior positions one thing I realized was that the independence to work on your dreams is not something that comes easy. So, it’s like searching for absolute freedom in my professional career has encouraged me to start afresh as an entrepreneur. My years of experience in the Nigerian healthcare system helped me to contribute and add value to the healthcare industry.
Which industries or work areas are you typically involved in?
My work area is exclusively Healthcare, which includes working with Hospitals, Laboratories, Pharmacies, etc. The idea is to change the way healthcare is delivered in Nigeria. We want the healthcare delivery system to be more accessible, economical, and trustworthy
Can you think of any client story in the healthcare industry that you are especially proud of?
We have helped more than seven thousand patients in accessing quality healthcare through us, be it heart surgery for small kids, kidney transplants, gynecology surgeries, spine and brain surgeries, gunshots, or accidents we have assisted all sorts of patients. One specific patient I would like to mention was a few years back when he was shot in the head in Makurdi during a random shooting incident by armed robbers. We received a call around 11:30 pm to evacuate him and bring him to Abuja. It was very difficult in the middle of the night by the road looking at the security situation, we arranged an air ambulance to airlift him to Abuja and performed successfully in one of the hospitals in Abuja. We were able to save a life.
Do you think the pandemic has affected consulting in the healthcare industry, and have you seen an increase in a specific type of project?
Pandemic has affected many industries at large; however, it has given a stimulus to the hospitals around the world. We are a part of the consulting team of a private University Teaching Hospital coming up in Abuja, which was conceptualized and built during a pandemic. Pandemic also has helped diagnostic laboratories to build their infrastructure and provide quality and comprehensive services to the masses in Nigeria. A lot many investors are now investing in healthcare diagnostic businesses in Nigeria.
What role do you think digitalization will play in the healthcare industry?
To me, digitalization is the basis of easy accessibility and cost-effectiveness of healthcare services delivery to the masses in Nigeria especially primary healthcare. Web-based digital healthcare services like www.surjen.com provide primary healthcare services to the patients from the comfort of their homes, be it blood sample collection, booking hospital appointments, Teleconsultation, second opinion for chronic diseases, or referral to hospitals in case of advanced treatments. Such digital healthcare services are not only cost-effective but easily accessible by the patients. In secondary and tertiary healthcare institutions digitization not only helps reduce redundancy but also improves the efficiency of healthcare professionals.
What trends will have the biggest impact on the healthcare industry? And how do you think companies should better prepare?
Healthcare industry is one of the most challenging industries as compared to others like software, space, or automotive. The industry is regulatory heavy, approvals for new products and procedures take years leaving less room for innovators and investors. However, there is a change in both the attitude of the regulatory bodies and investors in the last couple of years. The way various vaccines are developed against pandemics using newer technologies within a limited time has opened up a newer avenue for industry players, regulators and investors. They are more receptive now and willing to move ahead together.
I think genetic research coupled with AI technology is a new goldmine for investors and will bring out better resources for healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies to treat diseases like sickle cell which is predominant in Nigeria, cancers, Alzheimer’s, etc.
How do you think the healthcare industry will change over the next 5 to 10 years?
Healthcare industry in Nigeria is already going through a positive transformation. There are treatments and surgeries which were not happening in Nigeria before but are being done frequently in hospitals in Abuja and Lagos. So, things are changing. However, we need to aggressively counter the challenge of brain drain. A lot of young doctors after training from Nigerian institutions move abroad for greener pastures leaving the country’s healthcare system to suffer. I think both the Nigerian government and private healthcare players should bring out opportunities in terms of training and growth of these doctors within Nigeria so that such migration can be discouraged.
Nigerian Healthcare delivery system can change with the intervention of the government by providing subsidies on importation of equipment, consumables, medicines, etc. It should also be liberal on imposing various taxes on healthcare facilities and most importantly is to make available capital at single-digit interest rates through banks. Covid intervention fund from CBN is one such welcome move by the federal government but this should not be the only one.
Do you think there are any advantages for companies using independent healthcare consultants?
Consultants bring a wealth of experience and knowledge with them that’s why they are called consultants. Expecting a good doctor to be a good businessman and a good management professional at the same time is asking too much from him. It takes a lot of people with different skill sets and knowledge to successfully run a healthcare institution be it a hospital or a laboratory, it’s a team effort always. A consultant guides the total business entity to a growth path by integrating each department cohesively and eliminating any friction.
What are the most exciting aspects of working in the healthcare industry?
Respect before money. This is probably the only industry where you respect your customer and your customer equally respects you. Secondly, the blessing you receive when you have done your job well and the patient has recovered, nothing can match that. However, this is also an industry that comes with heavy responsibility
Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us the most amazing memory?
Yes, one amazing story I would like to share with you. This family whose one-year-old daughter was detected with a hole in the heart and was referred to me by one cardiologist to undergo surgery in India. When I discussed with the hospital in India the bill was coming out to be around 6000 dollars for the surgery. Meanwhile, the father of the child sought to meet me; I didn’t go to my office on that day so I invited him to my house. When he came what I saw was a military sergeant in uniform. I discussed with him the process and cost of surgery, and he said that he can’t pay as he is not that financially strong and he has much support from his family. That pained me as much as I could emotionally connect to him as my father was also in the Military. I vowed to help him within my best capacity. I called the hospital in India and pleaded with him that we need to get this surgery done within the bare minimum cost. After initial hiccups, the hospital thankfully agreed and they diverted the patient through an NGO making the whole surgery free of cost for the family. Later the father sends me an emotional email with lots of blessings. I will never forget that man, what I saw in him was my father. Life is good, that’s what I can say.
African Development Magazine would like to be part of your team and report your activities, will you give us this chance?
Sure, why not.
Thank you for sharing with us.
You are welcome, Thanks to ADM