Practicing anaesthesiologist and CEO of Aster Hospital Group, Dr. Sherbaz Bichu manages the group’s hospitals in the UAE and Oman.
Having worked his way through the company, from a junior anaesthesiologist position in 2014 to CEO, he is in a unique position to understand what it takes to be a leader in a rapidly transforming industry and business.
“My role as CEO started at one hospital, then further progressed to CEO of the group. During my career, the healthcare industry has taken a complete U-turn. Right now, it is not healthcare that is practiced, it is sickcare. People come to the hospital when they are sick, rather than to keep themselves healthy.”
However, with the rise of healthcare technology such as wearables and teleconsultation, Dr. Bichu sees this changing and the continuity of care increasing, “something which is lacking currently.”
As CEO, it is Dr. Bichu’s role to oversee that technology implementation. Innovation in the UAE, he concedes, is relatively straightforward - in the technology side. But, as a leader, he is well aware that the building of a strong vision accompanied by a culture that is ready for change is essential.
“The group has a global outlook to drive an ecosystem of healthcare, which only technology can help us achieve. Otherwise we risk facing extinction.” With this mission driving its operations, the group has established its four pillars of digital transformation, with patient care at the forefront.
“It's mainly about empowering our employees by fostering collaboration and innovation,” notes Dr. Bichu. “We believe that innovation happens from the ground up, with our staff being the best innovators we can think of. We have monthly innovation meetings where people can put forward their ideas for processes and technology.”
He emphasises that “the world is growing, but if you look at technology usage in healthcare, it is further behind compared to banking and other industries. In order to catch up we need to empower our employees by fostering collaboration and innovation, in addition to looking to other industries to learn and tailor solutions to the healthcare industry.”
An example of the group applying this method is its adoption of barcoding. “We have barcoded medical administration and barcoded blood transfusion to increase patient safety,” says Dr. Bichu.
“As a result, we were the first to have a completely closed loop medication administration and specimen collection. We know exactly what medicine has been given to which patient and what time it was administered. In addition to increased safety, this method reduces time spent on documentation, shifting more time for patient care.”
Reflecting on success so far, Dr. Bichu believes the group’s biggest strengths are its employees, and their innovative approach. He highlights that all the group’s people are being encouraged to progress to the next level so that they scale up along with the group. “We constantly focus on technology and innovation, but the company can only grow if our people grow too.”