In the early 1990s, radiology was still an emerging branch in India. I was very clear in my head that by the age of  27, I needed to start earning and thus went for a specialisation in radiology which takes only three years,” says Dr. Avinash Nanivadekar, Head Radiologist & Chief Digital Officer, Grant Medical Foundation, Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune. Avinash is an alumnus of the Advanced Management Programme for Healthcare (AMPH) at ISB.

Coming from a defence background, Avinash always aspired to join the NDA. But, as fate would have it, he ended up doing his MBBS from Sholapur followed by an MD in Radiology. After his MD, Avinash moved to Pune and joined the Ruby Hall Clinic. Over the years, he shaped, moulded and contributed tremendously to the organisation. He took a sabbatical after serving 23 years to experience different realms in the business of healthcare and, eventually, returned to serve patients.

Recalling about his early years at Ruby Hall, he says, “At the age of 34, I became the youngest HOD at Ruby Hall. It was around this time that the organisation was transitioning to a new management style, shifting focus from family-run practice to corporate culture. The full-time clinical practice centres were encouraged to be cost centres in healthcare. The radiology department was transformed into one, and  I turned into an intrapreneur.”

At the cusp of this transformation and as revenue mapping became increasingly important in healthcare, Avinash started pondering if he needed to learn management formally. “A lot of MBAs came into healthcare in leadership positions around the year 2000. Things drove me to a point where I felt I needed to learn about effective time, resource and business management rather than just people management. We felt foolish in management meetings when we were not able to explain ourselves. It awakened me and felt the itch to get out of my comfort zone.”

Avinash enrolled for the AMPH at ISB. Reflecting over his days at ISB, he says, “Studying at a management school was the best thing I did at the age of 53. It has changed my life over the past three years. I can understand numbers much better now, can give insights on business and have become a true entrepreneur. Earlier, I was an outsourced clinical partner at Ruby Hall. Today, I manage the radiology and imaging business line and am able to provide good outcomes. I can impact the numbers, manage topline, bottom line, optimise resources and strategise through crises effectively.”

At the age of 50, one has nothing to loose, comments Avinash. “The biggest learning at ISB was that there is no age for learning. I was one of the elders in my batch and even had younger faculty teaching us. The whole experience humbled my clinical arrogance. I gathered wonderful insights at ISB on not just management, marketing, HR or operations but also collected perspectives on how to balance teams, financial metrics of running healthcare businesses, and so much more.”

Last year, in between the waves of Covid-19 in India, Avinash switched from radiology to digital transformation. “There are several technologies around us, but they cannot be blatantly replicated in healthcare. We need to understand how health businesses will be impacted by them. I was able to become the bridge between the two domains. Covid propelled rapid deployment of technologies, enabled fast-paced clinical validation, prompt regulatory clearances, fast-tracked innovation in digital health and provided value-based monetisation opportunities. I am happy that I was a part of this digital journey in healthcare.”

Talking about driving digital transformation at Ruby Hall, Avinash shares, “We moved into automation and brought patient monitoring devices like smart wearables, watches, and monitoring over wi-fi. We also deployed devices for speech-to-text change, discharge summaries, face recognition, mask vigilance, temperature checks, and whatnot. We took small steps and did pilots before going all out. The whole journey has been extremely rewarding. The pandemic was like an opportunity for me to prove myself in the new role, and I explored things beyond medicine. I had studied digital transformation at AMPH and the learnings lent me a great deal of confidence to implement many of these initiatives.”

“During Covid-19,” he adds, “we accelerated the power of imaging by adoption of exponential technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning and moved away from traditional care delivery models. This out-of-the-box thinking empowered me and, in the process, empowered my team, clinical partners.”

On the occasion of Doctor’s Day, Avinash says, “Stay strong  and Stay morally true to your profession.”