African Doctors As Founding Presidents
There exists a need for African doctors to begin to revisit their business models. The European welfarist concept of healthcare management is outdated in the sense that the system hardy equips African doctors for the economic realities of our socio-political transformations. Hardly, is there any medical practice that can take its true financial statements to the bank to automatically secure financing, or even overdrafts without some other negotiations coming into play.
Yet, in modern economies this is the most basic of business documentation as it defines the business in one glance. Unfortunately, we all too often believe or claim association with capitalist countries whose political systems serve as models for our economics. Our doctors are no doubt taught excellence in the care of the sick to the best that available facilities permit. The truth is that the sick must be fed, and lodged while the doctor deserves his wages.
Our current curricula do not incorporate training or appreciation of the operational logistics that facilitates these services. Our healthcare industry will continue to be pedestal; under-funded and under-developed in so long as we do not appreciate a need for the level of education in business management that equips our doctors for the new economic realities.
The era that medical school graduates become assimilated directly into the public service has become history. Hence, many of our doctors hide in disgracefully set-ups called clinics; either as the business owner or an associate. The struggle to meet up with bills without the financial support to establish a desirable well-funded clinic becomes the prevailing influence over routine facility management practices.
A close look at our private clinics confirms that it is not a personal financial contribution, interest or intellect that continues to stunt their business aspirations, but a lack of basic management skills that is able to secure the necessary figures that attract investments. Sadly, its those figures that matter most for the risk assessment status of business most to the money bags that catalyze capitalist economies.
Figures don’t lie
The reason that banks and other investors love financial statements is that figures don’t really lie however good you may be at manipulating them. Eventually, the ratios and trends will show you up during a serious investor’s analysis. This is irrespective of company size. Therefore, whether you are a Shell, a Toyota, a Microsoft or even the Mom and Pop corner store, the most basic common denominator is the Financial Statement. It is the reason why giants like GM can still pay their workers even though they appeared insolvent, and raking massive interests on loans, until they were bailed out. These statements exposed the manipulations taking place in Enron and got some of the directors in jail. The analysis of the statements decided that the Lehman Brothers should be allowed to go down in spite of the devastating effects on the American economy. Essentially, financial statements are basic communication tools for business management; they help communications across the various participant groups.
Hence, no serious business manager can expect to lead a modern company without a good knowledge of the 3-page simple Financial Statement. Our clinics are seen as companies or business units in business parlance, and how they are assessed by money men. It is that simple because there are exactly the same number of lines and questions per page per section for every company in the world. The only difference lies in the figures quoted. It does not matter if you are a pharmacy or you manufacture airplanes or you sell clothes.
Unfortunately, we are not exposed to this knowledge in principle or practice, and this deficiency can be adduced as primarily responsible for us not to be skilled in sourcing for funds required for establishing, upgrading or managing clinical practices adequately equipped with the type of infrastructure of our dreams compared to our counterparts in other economies. When we attend international meetings they continue to discuss gadgetry at levels that are beyond our means; yet, we know that given an equal footing these colleagues are not smarter than us.
While it may be true that the organizations responsible for our educational development can be more effective as systematically addressing our deficiency, it is also true that these organizations take ages to adjust to the realities of trends. For instance, the postgraduate medical colleges are more flexibly governed and powerful enough to institute curricula changes that may eventually percolate down to the other sectors of the educational system, as they come appreciate the reality and adjust their curricula. This is easily so in the West African sub-region that I am more familiar with.
Smart leaders of medical societies are also able to assert political leadership capabilities by instituting an empowerment agenda that the schools can build upon. However, in the end, the financial success of any business venture rests on its management, especially its president. Whether, he is addressed as Chairman, CEO or Director, there are enough free sources online to help him update on the basics of business management, which may lead to further more specific sources of reliable information. Unfortunately, until we appreciate the necessity of incorporating basic business management training into our healthcare education our management economics will remain grounded in modern perspectives.