‘Don’t fixate over problems, come up with solutions’In 2009, Dr Bishal Dhakal returned to Nepal with the vision of starting Health at Home—an organisation that provides health care services at home for ageing patients or those that are invalid.
In 2009, Dr Bishal Dhakal returned to Nepal with the vision of starting Health at Home—an organisation that provides health care services at home for ageing patients or those that are invalid. Before beginning his career as an entrepreneur, Dhakal was a resident cardiac surgeon in Pakistan and also ran an intensive care unit there. He has also worked at several hospitals and clinics here in Nepal. His inspiration to bring health care services to the customer’s doorstep came about while working in Pakistan where people had to drive for hours to reach a hospital and get proper health care—conditions that mirror most of Nepal. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Dhakal talks about multitasking between two professions and shares some of his management mantras. Excerpts:
How do you multitask between your primary profession as doctor, while still managing your company—Health at Home?
If you are passionate about your profession, you will eventually learn the skills to multitask. I constantly need to switch from being a doctor to being an entrepreneur but I do it with joy because I am passionate about both the professions. I have been involved with Health at Home for about eight years now. Seeing my passion and zeal, people ask me to leave my medical practice and focus on entrepreneurship. However, I have never thought about leaving my medical practice—I practice medicine as a hobby and run my business as a profession because I am passionate about social enterprise. It is a huge challenge to be trying to fix loopholes in a country’s health care system. I research and understand these loopholes and I try to solve them.
Health at Home now caters to more than a 100 patients now, where you manage doctors, nurses and caretakers. How does your organisation handle such a large and diverse workforce and what kind of challenges do you face regularly?
Now, it all is less of a challenge, at least in the recruitment part of the business. We have made our own base through word of mouth and this has helped us position ourselves in the market. There are always people flocking in, to submit their CVs, even if there are no vacancies. This makes it clear that we have created a strong base for ourselves. We have given ray of hope to those who are deprived from job opportunities, especially to those pursuing nursing degrees.
The work-culture at Health at Home is flexible. We have our care and line managers who work closely with the clients and the health care professionals. We believe in working organically. For instance, a patient or the caretaker may not be comfortable with each other’s vibes—in such cases, we replace them with another. It is always easy to go the natural way and not try to enforce anything on one another. When you see the whole system of hospitals, it is like a factory; but when you get health care service at home, it is the patient’s territory—there is a huge paradigm shift—it helps the patients be more comfortable. This leaves both the medical professionals and the clients satisfied.
For eight years, your organisation has been involved in this business. Over the years, many other companies have also followed suit. In a competitive market like this, how does Health at Home manage its brand?
I always choose quality over quantity. We always look towards improving the quality of our service. When you have these fundamentals taken care of, creating a brand isn’t a problem.
In health care, there is no room for mistakes—it is a very sensitive place to work at because you are dealing with the life of someone’s loved one. This can lead to many testy situations. As it is a sensitive place to work, we have to work with dignity, discipline and respect. Over the years, many have replicated our business plan, but we have maintained our standard. We don’t want to get lost in the competition game. We have our own set of principles that we abide by.
As for brands, it takes multiple generations to create a brand. A big brand doesn’t always mean it’s a good brand. Quality always trumps quantity.
What are your management mantras? What are some attributes that all leaders have?
You have to trust people and be demanding at the same time. If you really want to be a leader, you have to create a positive environment around yourself. If you are ready to give, and take what is coming your way, it always creates a dynamic atmosphere. That’s how leaders are born. People may say business is a headache, but for me, I love it—it is my passion because I like to solve problems through logic. We have more than 100 patients and our singular goal is to find them someone who can provide them with proper care. This business is helping so many people and it brings smiles to those who need care and affection.
But that being said, today’s leader may not be tomorrow’s leader—one needs to constantly improve and continually take risks.
What advice do you have for those who aspire to join the health care sector?
Health care sector is very lucrative but is also very technical. The health care ecosystem is huge, which consists of med techs, pharmaceuticals, financial insurance and others. There is immense opportunity for management students in the health care industry. However, the education system here is more like producing boiler chicken in mass production. You have to learn to be a problem solver. If you are a problem solver you’ll always be in demand, even if you’re not an entrepreneur. Don’t remain fixated on the problems, come up with solutions.