,Thailand

Bumrungrad Int’l Hospital eyes providing ‘world-class holistic healthcare’

CEO Artirat Charukitpipat shares the plans and achievements the hospital has achieved under her leadership. 

Bumrungrad Hospital has been providing services to its patients both locally and internationally for four decades. 

Despite the challenges faced by the industry, Bumrungrad, a quaternary care hospital, has continued to adapt and innovate by providing “highly complex” medical care and by investing in data management, amongst others, to improve the services it provides to its patients.

Healthcare Asia spoke with CEO Artirat Charukitpipat to talk about the recent initiatives, achievements, as well as plans of the hospital to attain its goal of providing world-class and innovative healthcare.

What are the principles that guide Bumrungrad International Hospital in providing services to its patients?

For four decades, Bumrungrad International has been guided by the principles that are most appreciated by our patients: We aim to provide care with the highest quality and safety at International World Class standards, with world-renowned Thai hospitality. 

We don’t rest on our past successes; instead we continuously move forward pushing the boundaries, improving on our best with scientific and academic-based innovations. By being quick to adopt new technology and innovation in the fields of IT, precision medicine, and genetics enable us to be “future ready”. Most importantly, it is our people whom we engage and develop, who drive our success. Our brand is not only highly visible in our community, but we are part of the community—engaging and building on trust and sustainability with good governance and ethics.

Collaboration, innovation and technology, and compassionate caring are amongst the priorities of Bumrungrad. Can you tell us what recent innovations the hospital has integrated in its services?

With the current situation, Bumrungrad has been an early adopter in providing care for our international patients through the telemedicine platform and backed that up with medication delivery and mobile laboratory and radiology services for our local patients.

We are at the forefront in genetics and precision medicine and have integrated this platform into our clinical practices. Our patients benefit from knowing which medications will cause adverse reactions even before they take the medication and our doctors can adjust the medication dosages accordingly to optimize therapeutic benefits.

We have deployed advanced marketing technology which enables us to efficiently engage our patients through all social media platforms. The technology helps us effectively analyse and integrate data from these platforms for active engagement of our patients. We also have innovated and developed solutions in post-COVID-19 “wellness” with the new business model implementation in our main campus.

What achievements has the hospital attained under your leadership?

In the healthcare industry, Bumrungrad International Hospital stands out as a quaternary care provider, offering highly complex medical care with advanced innovations. With the international quality standards, each year, international patients from over 190 countries all over the world make up for 50% of Bumrungrad patients, or more than 520,000 patients.

Dealing with the pandemic during the past years, Bumrungrad has put in place the highest level of monitoring and screening measures for the COVID-19 virus adhering to the country’s national guidelines. The COVID-19 Command Center was also set up to respond accordingly to the changing situations daily and the Hospital Incidence Command System is comparable to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control standards. Moreover, Bumrungrad International’s medical laboratory was the first private hospital laboratory in Thailand to be certified to undergo COVID-19 testing in Thailand by the Department of Medical Sciences Ministry of Public.

Bumrungrad remains committed to driving the organization towards world-class holistic health care, upgrading it to a quaternary care hospital, at the top of the medical care pyramid. The hospital provides highly complex medical care with advanced innovations, including the use of advanced drugs that require highly skilled and experienced medical personnel. It is also engaged in research and development seeking innovations, drug trials, diagnoses or surgery in rare or complicated cases, and expanding negative pressure room facilities. High technology has also added to Bumrungrad’s efficiency. The drug dispensing robotic system has helped reduce mistakes that could be caused by the manual process. The ultimate goal is the zero-manual process, which should most enhance patients’ safety, the most vital key of hospital business operations.

The future healthcare industry trends prompted Bumrungrad to invest in the big data management system called Bio Computing Platforms or BCP, which is one of the first in the world. This system makes it possible to link the patient's DNA data with the hospital’s data in the Electronic Medical Record easily and quickly. The hospital also focuses on personalized prescription medicine or predictive medicine, which involves genetic testing and offers several clinical benefits.

However, to achieve sustainable development in the healthcare industry, work and efforts are required on all fronts: medical personnel, new technology, modern equipment, as well as service quality. Another important factor is creating a network of allies to help expand the target customer base—capitalizing on the strengths of each ally hospital, transferring knowledge to each other, and collaborating for growth throughout the industry. This is the key to sustainability in the hospital industry today.

Bumrungrad International Hospital was named Diagnostic Provider of the Year and you won as Chief Executive Officer of the Year (Thailand) at the Healthcare Asia Awards 2021. How do you feel about these recognitions? What do these awards mean for the hospital?

I am deeply honoured to be presented with these two awards; CEO of the Year and Diagnostics Provider of the Year. These awards, which validate the hard work and effort of our team, belong to everyone here at Bumrungrad. I would like to convey my gratitude to our Board of Directors, hospital management team, doctors, dentists, all medical professionals, every staff member, and each of our patients for their support, dedication, and long-standing trust in Bumrungrad.

I truly believe collaboration and teamwork are the fuel that enable common people to obtain uncommon results. We will continue to provide our patients with world-class holistic healthcare with innovation in the highest safety and quality standards.

As the CEO, what is it like leading the Hospital in the middle of a health crisis compared to the time before the pandemic?

Leading a hospital that provides healthcare services to 190 nationalities and over a million patient episodes annually in a normal economic climate prior to the health crisis was already challenging in itself. However, the challenges we now face are different and unprecedented.  The decisions we make must take into consideration the current scientific and evidence-based research. A strong leadership team is needed to transform our hospital rapidly with agility to address the new challenges. We plan one step ahead which makes effective communication and trust extremely important in engaging and obtaining support from all stakeholders.   Although the challenges are different, our mission, vision, and core values remain the same. Our culture and DNA prior to COVID-19 are unchanged. 

What other challenges did you face in leading one of the top hospitals in Thailand and how did you address them? What are the other challenges in the healthcare system you see aside from COVID-19 and how do you think they can be solved?

Sharing best practices within the healthcare system in Thailand and the region. We may start with groups focusing on specific areas such as IT implementation, supply chain management, patient care and clinical excellence, academics and research, etc. in the region. From there, we could progress with further collaboration, knowledge exchanges, and last but not least, a consortium on healthcare in the region.

As the World Economic Forum predicts a prolonged economic recession as a result of the worldwide shutdown and the economy at risk for the indefinite future, we have continued maintaining our competitive advantages of excellent clinical competency, technology adoption, harm-free patient care, new knowledge acquisition, etc. We also built additional organisational capability with transformation and building strategic alliances and new care delivery models.

How is Thailand currently faring in terms of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and how does the hospital help in addressing the situation?

We have been carrying on active and pivotal roles as part of the Thailand Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and Thailand WHO in handling COVID-19. We have piloted almost every project of the MoPH, e.g. Alternate State Quarantine or ASQ, then Alternate Hospital Quarantine or AHQ, then Hospitel, etc.  We continue supporting all these initiatives and share our practice with the community, working hard to protect our patients, staff, community, and country.

Can you tell us about the future plans of Bumrungrad? What other projects and initiatives are in the pipeline for the hospital that can improve the services you give your patients?

Bumrungrad has been successful in continuously improving our IT platform and implementing digital healthcare technology to be ready for the latest advancements in medical technology so we can present the best options to our patients and decide what is best for them. The healthcare industry is rapidly moving forward into a new era of smart hospitals and health care 5.0. Bumrungrad’s vision and goals for 2022 are to move forward and provide world-class holistic healthcare and implement innovative medical technology in quaternary care.

Medical technology alone cannot achieve Bumrungrad’s mission. We realize that effective communication, healthy relationships with our clients, and collaboration are key in providing the best healthcare. Our physicians, nurses, medical professionals, and staff members give patients comfort and strive to deliver the best treatments available. We have the blameless policy and zero-tolerance approach to safety at Bumrungrad to help maximise our safety and quality standards.

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