The ongoing pandemic has clearly shown that to drive patient outcomes, doctors require both clinical skills and managerial techniques. Traditionally, doctors are not trained to handle the various problems they face in practice, and this skill becomes even more necessary in the case of an emergency like COVID-19. What are some healthcare-related management tools that should become part of medical and nursing school curricula?
Basics are important
All clinicians, regardless of their speciality, should be trained in basics of Healthcare Management. This can be inculcated into the undergraduate curricula as part of the Social and Preventive Medicine module or as a separate course on ‘Basics of Management Principles and Practices.’ This should include essentials of interpersonal communication, be it with patients, patients’ families, subordinates, peers or colleagues, and media. Technical communication skills are equally important as one goes up the ladder and assumes more administrative responsibilities. A clinical career is a high-intensity practice, especially in the areas of intensive care, surgery and high-end diagnostics procedures, where winning the trust of the patient or his/her family and well as communicating with clarity, though underrated, is of prime importance.
Often, clinics, hospitals and nursing homes fold up because of non-clinical management issues. Knowledge of business management and accounting can help private practitioners understand the significance of top-line and bottom-line. Qualitative output and financial prowess can go hand in hand to create an immensely sustainable and successful practice. With the use of technology and data analytics becoming increasingly important, doctors need to know about their application in healthcare.
Furthermore, physicians are well suited to run a healthcare facility. A Harvard Business Review report has shown that, in the U.S., physician-led hospitals perform better than healthcare institutions that are managed by non-doctors. In India too, we have examples of successful doctor-entrepreneurs. This is primarily because they understand the entire process of delivery of healthcare and, being armed with formal training in management practices can further help their venture.
Traditionally, doctors don’t have a bottomline approach. Health economics is another subject that can help physicians balance their input and output costs to make their business venture financially viable. This can also aid in innovating healthcare models for India, especially in the hinterland where the need is more pronounced.
Including these aspects of management into the curriculum or as a capsule course will go a long way in helping physicians and their practice.
The writer is the Founder and Managing Director, HOSMAC, a hospital planning, design and management consultancy.