Bsiness Is All About Creating Value – Dr. Aluko, CEO, Premier Specialist Hospital
Seye Joseph @TheSeyeJoseph
Perhaps not what will sink into the mind of many, whether a medical doctor can be an entrepreneur or not, if he or she can run a successful business enterprise due to the truism that the profession they practice does not teach basic entrepreneurial skills and to the axiom that medicine is a profession that requires all-time attention to the basic charge of taking care of patients.
Ordinarily, society believes that doctors cannot run a business effectively; they think that they should only take care of patients and leave business activities to those who can run it effectively. Apart from taking care of the patients, are there skills entrepreneurs or medical professionals can learn from the profession to run an efficient business enterprise? This is one of the germane questions that were thrown to Dr. Abiodun Aluko, a female Medical Director and Pediatrician that has been practicing for almost three decades at Premier Specialists’ Hospital, – a medical centre that promotes highest possible complete health care service, attainable in the most developed parts of the world, in Nigeria.
Aluko explained that to run health care system to best taste for patients; you must have some idea of how to administratively run an organisation, “if you are a doctor and you are given medical service it will be of conflict of interest if you only focus on the monetary side of the business” She added that it is an old fashion way of thinking that doctors are purist and they must only face the business of looking after the patients.
According to her, she said that there are very few people who are trained in hospital administration; they are administrators who only took time out of general administration to specialise in hospital administration. “What we find now is that a lot of medical administrators, especially abroad are from the medical background because to be effective as an administrator you must have some medical idea as it allows you to put the medical history of the patients in view with whatever administrative decision you are trying to take”.
“There is need to run organisation well, but if as a medical practitioner, you don’t know anything about administration, you will find out that you want to give a patient something and it is out of stock because you have not learnt how to manage. In medical school, we were not trained to manage stocks, to make sure things are in order or in appropriate quantity based on usage pattern, all these are administration. They are what you learn when you are an entrepreneur”, she said
Dr. Aluko who in 1988, before returning to Nigeria to contribute to the health delivery system in the country, obtained her MBBS degree in 1982 at the University of Lagos, and later proceeded to the United State in 1983 where she obtained a fellowship in pediatrics and graduated at the top of her class with 99% scores expatiated into details of how passion and positive drive for patients helped to build Premier Hospital that now has branches in Victoria Island and Lekki to what it is today.
She said that when the hospital started in 1992 as a business outfit that was ready to care for people, profit and what to gain was not part of the initial idea. The mission was to be a complete management hospital that renders total man solutions to patients’ ailments. “What this means is that when we see a patient in a coma, what we think is how to effectively and efficiently meet their immediate needs of proffering solutions to their ailments. We were not thinking about ourselves, somebody elsewhere before seeing the patient has already done some calculations on how much is going to cost the patient to do this thing”, she reiterated.
She explained further that satisfaction of patients and creating value for them is their core attention at Premier Specialists’ Hospital and it has always worked for them from day one at the centre even when they started with just three chairs in the same building they were still in now. Narrating her first day of business experience “Our carpenter didn’t supply the chairs we had requested for on the first day we opened for business and we had over 200 people registered with us on that first day and they were ready to stick with us because they knew us. We started from one old fashion chair to two chairs and by the world of mouth, we never did any advertising at all but our belief has been to always put the patients first at all-time”, she said.
She further maintained that there are times they give free service to patients when they discover that they can’t pay and even when they can but not willing to pay. “There are lots of them that value what we create for them, we have always been creating value for the patients because I’m a doctor, I create value for the people”.
Dr. Aluko said that if business owners and medical practitioners are rendering services from this point of view and do business in an organised environment, business will be well done. “This is the way of running businesses, but unfortunately this is not taught in medical school” According to her, she said that it is not medicine that runs the hospital, but business principles which many medical practitioners do not have.
She explained that one lesson business owners can learn from medicine is the way of rendering effective service, saying that business owners must focus on the complaints and feedback from their customers just as medical professionals pay more attention to the pains of patients in the hospital.
“Patient complains a lot about waiting time, they don’t like to wait, we try our best to listen to them and cut down their waiting time. So business owners must listen to their customers and be sensitive to it. Ask them how to create value for them and learn to think ahead for them”
Aluko said that in every illness that brings patients to her, she tries to look for how they will be fine before giving them a bill for payment. She said, “When you are in the service business, empathy for your customers makes things easier for them to understand”.
The idea of floating or co-founding an enterprise with a partner or friend is not what is not very common in Africa and what many consider a no go area because of lack of trust or one partner trying to outsmart the other partner.
But with the journey of over twenty years in rendering essential medical services to people, co-founders of Premier Specialist Hospital in Lekki and Victoria Island, both in Lagos have proven that founding business with partners and like minds is the best way of bringing professionalism into the business to create uncommon results and to build more competitive advantage for business growth in the sector.
In her explanation on how the idea of Premier Specialists’ Hospital has stood the test of time and creating essential values for its clients in the last twenty-five years, Medical Director and Pediatrician at the hospital, Dr. Aluko said that to run a medical business to its peak that will be well known and function to the point it will start creating value, it cannot be run by one person.
“In the medical business, it is not good to run things alone because it will never outgrow the owner and hospital business is a 24/7 enterprise that must be given all attention to cater for the patients. And nobody can work 24/7, what that means is that the person will break down and the customers will not get the best from the hospital. Responsibility should not be invested in only one person”, she said.
“It is with that point of view and philosophy that we are serving the patients and to serve them optimally, we must not do things alone, there is a vacation that is structured to reboot our doctors because patients are never exposed to a tired and overworked doctor”. She also said that the idea allows them to give honest feedback to themselves on how they are working to give best services to their clients, adding that being alone create the room for boredom and people start doing things in an unusual way that is not good for the growth of the business.