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A couple of weeks ago the Pangani area in Nairobi opened its doors to a new facility, Ladnan Hospital.
What is remarkable about it amongst its other surprises is its managers.Barely in their late twenties the two have managed to set up a serious establishment. This is encouraging as it shows young doctors too are embracing the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Our recent strike’s outcome is also a contributor as it has left a lot of disenfranchised doctors. Some are finally seeking alternative ventures.
At 50 beds, the facility follows in the new trend of boutique hospitals.
The phrase refers to medical care centres with a maximum of 100 beds. This set-up is to give a different hospital experience from the larger facilities. They are usually amply designed to make one feel at home. Some have libraries, gyms, entertainment and patient interaction rooms.
Negative client experiences in big facilities ranging from long queues, sub standard care amongst other complaints are the drivers of the shift to these boutique hospitals.
Compared to the 70s era where the norm was to have huge structures housing up to 1,000 patients, the in-thing now is smaller facilities. While the previous goal was to consolidate operations and reduce on expenditure, resultant issues from such a set-up create logistical nightmare.
One needs to visit either of the referral facilities or major private hospitals during peak time or visitors hour to experience this.
In the Ladnan case, the management deliberately decided to have the smaller size despite the potential and ability to have a bigger facility.
The managing director, Dr Abdi Mohammed, says ensuring quality standards right from the onset and maintaining them guided their decision.
This is reflected in the facility itself. Though located in the eastlands part of the city, they spared nothing to put it at par with facilities in the more affluent areas of the city.
Managing big facilities isn’t easy either. Today’s patient is definitely different from the 80s one.
They are fussier and want to feel appreciated; rightfully so. Patients are now paying more than they did in the past. It is also perhaps informed by society’s change in perception of hospitals as businesses as opposed to the old ‘help” centres.
The large number of alternative hospitals means competition is cut throat.
The risk of negative patients experience both litigious and non-litigious is everyday occurrences for us.
The duo admits to having faced serious challenges. However, it is a culmination of a dream shared while in medical school.
Though it has come at a price, Dr Mohammed admits it feels nice to see the dream come to fruition.
They are hoping to see better days after the hard times in getting the whole project off the ground.
The greatest challenge, they say, was raising the capital. Hospitals are not categorised as conventional businesses. In fact, doctors are grouped in the same league as jua kali artisans. This means accessing credit is difficult especially as a start-up.
For most facilities to break even in the very competitive environment, they have inculcated modern business ways.
In this case they have resorted to marketing through their website and innovative strategies like outsourcing non-core services.
To give back to society, the facility offers free immunisation to the babies from the impoverished Eastleigh area.
The young CEOs’ advice to entrepreneurs: “In the medical business, you must have a short term and a long term strategy. Attempting to start with the long term strategy kills the whole venture.’ His long term strategy is to have Ladnan as a specialised hospital.