ROUNDING OUT AND HONING IN

Indonesia 2018 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ravi Raj, CEO of Columbia Asia Indonesia, on how to learn from new captive markets, developing broadly before specializing, and creating centers of excellence within each hospital.

Ravi Raj
BIOGRAPHY
Ravi Raj started his career in the hospitality industry before becoming an executive in the medical sector. He previously worked in Malaysia.

Where does Indonesia fit into the group's regional portfolio?

The idea started when we were in Malaysia and discovered that there was a large patient base from Indonesia coming to Malaysia or Singapore for treatment, which meant enormous potential. We wanted to pursue this opportunity because Columbia Asia has a wide footprint in Malaysia and considered opening a hospital in Penang because many Indonesians go to Penang as tourists. Instead, we decided to serve the Indonesian market from within and open hospitals there. We were one of the first international hospital companies to acquire a property in Indonesia. Around 10 years ago, we acquired a hospital in Medan that we transformed into a Columbia Asia hospital. Today, our hospital is not only the leading private hospital in Medan, but the number-one tertiary referral hospital in North Sumatra. This helped us to further grow our footprint. Rather than expanding rapidly to other locations in Indonesia, we studied the market in Medan for several years to understand its needs. We were more confident because we developed an understanding of the Indonesian market and culture. Our driver is to provide a healthcare system and service within Indonesia at the same level as an international healthcare provider. Three years ago, we felt confident enough to open two further hospitals in Jakarta and Semarang, and plan to grow in Sumatra and acquire and manage more hospitals in Java.

Do you offer all-around healthcare services or specialize in certain fields?

We have three different hospitals with three different levels of growth in three different regions of Indonesia. We are the most mature in Medan, where we handle a great deal of tertiary care and critical cases. Many critical cases from Banda Aceh all the way to Batam are brought to our hospital because we run one of the best critical care units and surgical centers of excellence in our area. In Jakarta, we handle general cases at the moment because we have not evolved into a tertiary care hospital just yet. All hospitals start at the level of general care and then progress into whatever specialized fields that are actually needed. In order for us to specialize, we need to first understand what an area requires. We then evolve into certain specialized areas by developing centers of excellence. In Medan, we have several centers of excellence in the same hospital that were formed over years of expanding and understanding what the community needs and what our doctors' capabilities are. This is our strategy: to establish hospitals and develop centers of excellence within them.

How are the dynamics between the public and private healthcare systems here different?

Since President Widodo took power, there has been a strong dedication to providing healthcare to the country. Since then, the government and the Ministry of Health have done remarkably well to provide this health coverage program to facilitate public health. The moment public healthcare awareness and provision increases, it will automatically escalate private healthcare because the bar is being set higher. Indonesia's public healthcare program has helped to raise the overall healthcare bar for the country, which is extremely positive. Now it is a matter of choosing the type of healthcare one needs. It is becoming a buyer's choice because various healthcare systems are available, and this is significantly changing the landscape.

What is Columbia Asia Indonesia's approach to sourcing, recruiting, and retaining its staff?

There is no shortage of doctors or skilled medical and clinical staff here, but Columbia Asia Indonesia has to be an environment that improves its medical professionals. We have to provide the best environment for our people to strive; if we do that, our staff will automatically deliver a much higher level of commitment and service.