Power Letters 2021: Dr. Azad Moopen, founder chairman and MD, Aster DM Healthcare
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Power Letters 2021: Dr. Azad Moopen, founder chairman and MD, Aster DM Healthcare

Power Letters 2021: Dr. Azad Moopen, founder chairman and MD, Aster DM Healthcare

Aster adopted proactive measures which helped tide over the problems fairly smoothly

As the Covid-19 pandemic brought the entire world to a standstill in 2020, infecting hundreds of millions of people around the globe and killing more than a million, the healthcare sector has been at the forefront, functioning non-stop to help as many people as possible and bring the surge under control. Yet healthcare has also been one of the hardest-hit sectors business wise.

For Aster DM Healthcare, the challenge was multifold with issues being faced across clinical operations, business and HR functions, while we also remained at the epicentre of managing the pandemic in the countries where we operate. The pandemic and ensuing lockdown reduced footfalls at our facilities with patients avoiding physical visits due to fear
of contracting the disease and deferring elective procedures, yet the rising number of positive cases put a tremendous pressure on the available infrastructure leading to a shortage of critical care staff and resources as staff got infected due to exposure to positive patients.

Limited knowledge of the disease and long-term prognosis for patients, no established medication or vaccine, and the need to manage all non-clinical operations virtually to safeguard our employees added to the unpredictability of the situation. While as a large and established organisation we could still sustain and push through, the smaller players were hit hard.

Even though Covid produced havoc in the whole world – especially in the healthcare domain, Aster adopted proactive measures which helped us tide over the problems fairly smoothly. We have screened over 260,164 cases in the GCC with a case fatality rate of less than 1 per cent, which is far below the world statistics. At Aster, we have always prioritised the needs of our patients and our mission has been to serve them with affordable quality care which is easily accessible.

In this scenario, accessibility meant shifting the healthcare delivery model to the homes of our patients where they feel safe and comfortable. Through use of technology, we could digitise the entire process of booking an appointment, doctor teleconsultation, issuance of prescription, follow-up, lab-test or nursing care at home as well as arrange the door-step delivery of prescription medicines. Similarly, we prioritised diversifying our business model through homecare services, diagnostics and focused heavily on improving efficiencies across functions which helped in reducing expenses.

Covid-19 helped us expedite our journey towards digitalisation with most of the back-office operations being performed through digital means. This has increased the speed at which
we conduct business and has helped us in taking bold decisions and percolating them downward to the operational level very quickly. I hope that this benefit will continue even in the post Covid period, which will increase efficiency and reduce cost.

The year 2020 was also remarkable in uniting the world on a common mission – to fight against Covid-19, bringing governments and private players to function side by side. We are thankful to the UAE government and Dubai Health Authority for the opportunity to closely collaborate with them to flatten the curve in the country. In addition to our hospitals treating positive cases, our CSR arm Aster Volunteers worked closely with DHA to conduct mass screenings, isolating and transferring positive cases, managing quarantine facilities for blue-collared workers and providing aid to the needy who were left financially distressed, impacting almost 850,415 lives.

We expect 2021 to be a year of hope, recovery and building upon the new foundations that the world has set in 2020.

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