Perspectives from ISB

“Home healthcare is a gamechanger in the healthcare sector. In the coming decade, we will be discussing how the home healthcare industry has grown in India,” says Dr. Mahesh Joshi, CEO, Apollo Home Healthcare and alumnus of the PGPMAX Class of 2011 at ISB.

Mahesh hails from a business family from a small town in Maharashtra. His becoming a doctor was an outcome of his father’s aspirations. “There was hardly any graduate for almost three generations in my family. But my father’s resolve was so strong that all five of his children, including me, became doctors,” he shares. The seeds were sown very early on when he used to see their family physician being treated with the utmost respect. “People opening the door of his car, carrying his medical kit… I had never seen that kind of respect being given to anyone else. Those memories have stayed with me.”

After completing MBBS, Mahesh was conferred the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine for his contribution to the growth of international emergency medicine. He led Apollo’s emergency medicine services for 14 years before taking the reins of Apollo Home Healthcare in 2014, right after graduating from the PGPMAX at ISB. About moving from clinical practice to management, he says, “While leading the emergency medicine, I went from being a core clinician to becoming an administrator. My duties expanded beyond the department and clinical responsibilities. In meetings with business leaders, we discussed investment, return on equity, scaling up, and more. As a pure clinician, I did not know about such things. That’s when I started looking to pick up business and managerial skills and play a larger role beyond just a functional one.”

Mahesh was the only medical doctor in a batch of 65 people in PGPMAX. Reminiscing his days at ISB, he says, “ISB was a very humbling experience for me. Traditionally, people put doctors on a very high pedestal. But, when I interacted with CEOs/CFOs and my peers at ISB, I realised I had limited management knowledge. The programme enabled a lot of cross-learning. I had consciously decided to pursue a general MBA instead of a healthcare-focused MBA because I wanted to get perspectives from lateral industries and see if something could be adapted and applied to healthcare.”

When the second wave of Covid-19 hit India, unprecedented challenges faced the healthcare industry. With no protocols laid out to tackle such a situation, learnings from organisational behaviour and leadership lessons at ISB came in handy for Mahesh. He explains, “We scaled from 50 new patients under home care in March to over 500 new patients per day in April – a growth of 10x times. Healthcare is a very human business, and learnings from the PGPMAX courses helped me navigate through some of the toughest challenges that leaders can face in dealing with people. The most important being the art of being agile and understanding the human psychology of how to incentivise people in the right manner, at the right time, for the right cause, and highlighting their impact.”

On the occasion of Doctor’s Day, he says, “To people, I would say, do not wait for a pandemic to express your gratitude to the doctors who take up this profession despite the adversities, long studies, hard work, and lesser pay during the initial few years. To doctors, I want to say, never let your patients down because they place their trust in you. If that remains the guiding force, the entire mistrust gap between patients and doctors will come down because there will be a common goal of upholding the trust on both the sides.”