Bringing the Best of Healthcare Tips and Tricks
Indeed it takes a lot to reach that level of efficiency that Amit Mookim has reached. Hard work, determination coupled with the zeal to make a difference has really worked wonders for him. In a conversation with Chandreyee Bhaumik, he shares his journey
Amit Mookim has worked for more than 15 years experience in various consulting roles with clients across India, Japan, Europe, United Kingdom, USA and Middle East. His clients include large multinational corporate, Indian businesses houses, Private Equity Funds, Donors and Government. Amit has led more than 150 engagements during his career across industry sectors including healthcare, education, financial services, real estate, utilities, transportation, food and beverages, IT/ITES, textiles, engineering, FMCG and pharmaceuticals. Further, he has led the healthcare vertical for KPMG in India and was instrumental in setting it up along with KPMG’s global team. In healthcare, Amit has worked on policy advisory, new business setup, operations, M&A and private equity and JV/ partnerships. He has worked with industry associations like ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI, entrepreneurial associations like TiE and IPIHD, government organizations like PHFI and APHI as well as international bodies like the Wellcome Trust, Nuffield Trust and the Harvard School of Public Health across various programs and initiatives.
He currently leads the consulting , technology and services business for IMS Health in South Asia and the COE for M&A and Transactions Advisory across Asia. IMS is a leading consulting and information services provider to healthcare, and works with life sciences, hospitals and providers, payors, med-tech and government health organizations/ donors across the world and in India on strategic , operational, technology and analytics/ big data. In a tete-e-tete, he reveals the finery and nuances of the healthcare industry.
Tell us a bit about your background and education.
I come from a family business background and spent the formative years of my life in a small town in West Bengal. My father, a chartered accountant and an entreprenuer, ran his own practice, and after school I used to work with him in business. Thus, at a very early age I was brought into understanding the different aspects of business and finance. Despite my involvement at work during my school days, I was a gold medallist in my class 10 examinations and a rank holder from the state. This motivated me to pursue my academics more strongly. I moved to Kolkata and did my graduation in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and later got a MBA from FMS, Delhi, with a first class degree in both.
What attracted you towards the healthcare industry?
Healthcare happened to me because of my interest as well as a fortunate co-incidence. At KPMG, I was in the strategy team and looked into their Private Equity and transactions advisory business. At that time, the company was trying to build and grow their healthcare vertical. There is tremendous growth potential for healthcare in India and KPMG provided me the opportunity to build that vertical for the firm. I worked with the global team to grow the vertical. This is what got me to healthcare in a deeper way. Healthcare is one sector where the business and social angles come together. The industry has always appealed to me because I personally believe if I have the right resource at the right time, I can always create the right business model. Hence, when this opportunity came, I grabbed it.
I started my career with Andersen. From a professional point of view, Andersen provided me a strong foothold in the industry and set the base for my professional career. I got the opportunity to work with the World Bank on privatisation and various allied aspects and also worked with a large bank on the risk management perspective and e-commerce business, etc. Working with the large clientele at Andersen helped me to comprehend different business issues at different times in the industry. The multinational global organisation gave me a strong grounding, the networking, the professional rigour that actually set me up for all professional challenges.
How was your experience working in South Asian countries? What are some of the key learnings that you have imbibed?
South Asian countries are very different. There are countries like Singapore, Korea, Japan which have very developed markets, almost same as the Western markets. But countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and China have similar markets as that of India, in terms of complexity and development. For example, I had the opportunity to work in Indonesia and to me Indonesia’s healthcare scenario is very much like what the Indian healthcare scenario was 5-7 years ago in terms of infrastructure, etc. In fact, the Indian healthcare infrastructure is much better, in terms of the number and the condition of the hospitals and clinics. Indonesia is going through the Universal Health coverage reform right now. Lately, the Indian healthcare sector has achieved a lot of private equity investment and many entrepreneurs are stepping forward.
Similarly, Thailand has done great progress in creating a social healthcare system which India has not accomplished as yet. But, Thailand on its overall basis of healthcare market is still developing. There are a very few large healthcare players and the number of hospitals is still low. So, there is a large room for the Thailand healthcare sector to grow. Similarly, Malaysia has a large base for medical tourism from Indonesia and other parts of Asia. Malaysia has undergone a healthcare reform and thus it is somewhere between where Indonesia and Singapore are. Therefore, each country is different and in Asia we see a lot of patients who travel from one country to another to get cured. This is a very different existing market.
How different is the healthcare culture in India vs other countries you have worked in?
There are primarily two differences. Most of the developed markets are publicly run markets which are managed and funded by the Government. India has a privately run healthcare system. The other difference is that the hospitals in developed countries have much more automation in the hospitals than the hospitals in India and they share a lot more data and outcome than the Indian hospitals do. Hence, the ability of the Government or the healthcare system to understand the patient outcome and manage the whole process becomes much more visible. India is still very fragmented. I think the quality of doctors is very good in India; some of the best doctors in the world are Indians. However, the problem is the fragmentation and the lack of standardisation across the system; very few Indian hospitals follow established protocols.
For a healthcare organisation to grow, what according to you is the most viable business strategy?
We need to overcome our challenges to allow growth of our healthcare organisation. There is a huge shortage of talent all across the healthcare industry in India. Many of the organisations that are growing are either creating mechanism and infrastructure to develop their own talent pool or are creating business platforms to educate and nurture talent. Whether it is Narayana Hrudalaya or Manipal or Apollo, they all have education as an integral part of healthcare. Secondly, for organisations to grow they will have to move away from the mindset of revenue per bed because the way a patient perceives a hospital is changing. Nowadays, for many healthcare needs, one does not need to visit a hospital. The problems can be dealt at a clinic or outside the hospital or through home healthcare. Therefore, in order to grow, healthcare now needs to think in terms of services beyond a hospital.
Does competition among several healthcare consultancies help in attaining better results? If yes, how?
Any type of competition helps. At IMS Health, we have a very dedicated healthcare practice and we work solely on healthcare. We have a healthcare-focussed consulting team in India. A lot of consulting firms are coming up, which is great because the supply is low and there is a massive demand for different kinds of healthcare services and consulting.
Is the healthcare work culture in the national and international firms different or are they on a similar platform with a customisation difference only?
International firms offer opportunities to people for working across international geographies, which many domestic firms do not offer. International firms also get exposed to best practices and access to global talent who are experts and has worked across the world. I think the differentiator in this market will be to offer deeper insight as India is a data-starved environment and also execution support – while strategy could be well-crafted, its the execution that will make the difference!
You have worked across different sectors. What are some distinguishing factors in the health sector vs any other?
In healthcare, there is a distinct social angle. Thus, one has to be aware of it when one is building it. Secondly, it is a very people-driven business. Every individual who walks into the hospital is a unique case. At the same, several process and systems are required to make sure that the outcomes are right. Thus, it is a complex business that requires a lot of technical talent. Again, the industry involves many stakeholders whether it is a Government, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies or medical device companies. However, with the advent of technology various things are happening that alters the way care is delivered. So, it is a learning industry all the time. The interesting aspect about this industry is that we may be dealing with a 20-bedded hospital or a 800-bedded hospital, the problem during emergency may remain the same.
How do you think leadership in healthcare has changed over the year?
Earlier there were many doctor-turned-entrepreneurs but now many people with management background are entering healthcare. This topic is debated even on a global platform. While some people feel that physicians turning into entrepreneurs are better because they can deal with the clinical aspects better, some feel that the other are better. The golden rules of leadership in healthcare industry have changed in the last 10 years. The customer has changed. We are now becoming much more aware of the healthcare system. Today, it has become far more service-oriented; we are even comparing hospitals to choose on which one is better.
If there are three things you could tell a budding healthcare leader, what would it be?
Firstly, focus on the patient. A successful healthcare organisation has to be patient-oriented. Secondly, establish a culture of open communication- both upwards and downwards. I personally believe lot of innovation can happen at the ground level. Thirdly, look beyond the traditional model of healthcare; look at how industries like telecom, retail etc. are innovating and apply their methods to healthcare.
On a personal note, how much has your family helped and supported your career?
My parents are my source of inspiration. I have actually learnt a lot from my father because I have worked very closely with him. I have a wife and a three-year-old son. My wife is a very successful professional and during my career I have got a lot of support from her, both as a friend and my life partner. My son gives me a balance between my personal and professional life.
Favourite book: Marshall Goldsmith’s ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’
Last watched movie: PK
Favourite holiday destination: London
Favourite past time: I usually run so I am a long distance runner. So, whenever I get an opportunity I grab my shoes and run.
One motto changed your life: Live for the moment.