Health care service delivery has been redefined, and service providers are consistently trying to conform to international standards. This is the reason behind the demand for professional healthcare managers, who can apply established management principles to provide efficient healthcare.
Until recently, retired personnel from the army or medical services managed Indian hospitals. But the sectorâ€™s evolution into business has led to an increased emphasis on the application of management skills, operational strategies and a sense of ethics to run it successfully, and the new breed of medicine professionals with management qualification promise to address these requirements effectively. Health care is a unique business wherein people with diverse backgrounds and qualification work in the same system, and in order to successfully manage such a diverse workforce, the healthcare manager needs to be adept at fostering change without disrupting continuity.
Though the demand for professional managers in healthcare is still at a nascent stage, investments in the sector by corporate giants like Reliance Industries, Wockhardt, Max health care, Fortis, Apollo group, and the Hinduja group, among others are likely to provide the necessary impetus.
Healthcare management is not the only option the sector offers, and apart from formation of hospitals as corporate companies, the socio-economic changes offer an even wider range of career options. The World Bank has been sponsoring healthcare reforms across several states in India starting with Andhra Pradesh in 1994.
NGOs in healthcare also offer an array of opportunities under projects sponsored by the European Union commission, World Bank, Department for International development, German technical cooperation, and Untied Nations, among others.
The IT sector has opened up to professionals beyond software engineers, and doctors are currently participating in clinical trial interpretations, formerly referred to as medical transcription. A huge amount of data has been acquired by major IT companies and they need trained doctors to interpret this research.
Other emerging areas include Medical tourism, Telemedicine, Pharmaceuticals and Health insurance. A McKinsey report states that Indiaâ€™s private health insurance cover will reach 20 percent to 25 per cent by 2020. In the context of Health insurance, economics is an area that most doctors are not comfortable with. Hence, doctors trained in these skills are going to be in great demand in the insurance sector, as health economistsâ€™ with a clinical background.
FMS started Indiaâ€™s first management program in Healthcare in 1971 and is currently revising its syllabus. The new curriculum will be more intense and will include emerging components like IT, telemedicine, and insurance, among others. Although FMS is the pioneer in offering customized management courses for the healthcare sector, with the increase in demand for trained professionals other institutes are also customizing their management programs for health segment.
The government has iterated the need to groom public health management cadres, and hence, other institutes have also started to offer programs in hospital administration and other areas. Both the All India Institute of medical sciences, New Delhi and the Tata Institute of Social science, Mumbai, offer Masters Program in Hospital administration.
While the institutes mentioned above only offer courses for MBBS graduates, others offer programs open to graduates from all disciplines. For instance, the institute of integrated learning in management New Delhi, offers a two year hospital administration course, in association with Max Healthcare.
Around 47 million uninsured Americans are unable to afford private medical treatment in their own country, while in the UK the National Health Service is under immense pressure to meet the demands of an increasing population. In 2006, this scenario translated to over 1.5 lakh foreign nationals visiting India for various medical needs and today global business growth in healthcare ranks second only to retail. The Indian healthcare sector will be worth whopping rs 1,200 billion by 2012.
The bottom line is simple with more portfolios like healthcare economics and healthcare managers being created medicine graduates who were expecting to continue with their specialization through their mid 30s, now have the option of being part of industries like information technology and insurance, among others, not merely as doctors, but as managers.