Founded by Dabur promoters Dr. Anand Burman, Gaurav Burman and US-based Dr Bruce J. Bauer four years ago, Berkeley HealthEDU (BHE) provides simulation-based interactive training for doctors, nurses and other paramedical professionals. In an interview with Business Today's Joe C Mathew, Dr Bauer, chairman of BHE, talks about the relevance of such training modules in Indian healthcare space.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
BT: How promising is your business model?
Dr Bauer: When we started the company, the premise was that hospitals were struggling to find competent nurses and paramedics. Most of them were freshers from nursing schools and they needed additional training to work in top level hospitals. It was done by the hospitals themselves. Our theory was that hospitals are really great for delivering care, but training is secondary for them, so somebody needs to help them do that. We had a company in the US (Dr Bauer had been running a similar company, Boston Reed, in the US, though he pested his stake recently), but when we came here, we learned that the exact training proposition that was successful in the US will not work here. They were similar and related, but the needs were distinct. For instance, there is no compulsory continuing medical education (CME) requirement here. We were drawing students from allied positions there, here they are fresh. We modified our strategy to suit Indian conditions.
BT: You mean to say there is a fundamental problem with India's nursing and paramedical education?
Dr Bauer: There are new nursing schools opening in India all the time. It is challenging for them to get the kind of exposure that their students need to work in hospitals. We can help accelerate their skilling process. That's what we do.
BT: But Indian nurses are finding jobs in developed countries without such skill development programmes?
Dr Bauer: That is because they have picked up the skills on the job. They spend two or three years on the job getting that level of proficiency. We can accelerate that. There is a huge shortage of nurses in India. So there is no demand or need for nurses to acquire extra knowledge on their own. Hence, hospitals spend six to eight months preparing freshers for the job today. We can do that job for the hospitals by training them. We train them how to work effectively in a team, and raise the levels of professionalism. New hospitals, when they are launched, like to engage with us today.
BT: Does it make economic sense for hospitals to get this outsourced?
Dr Bauer: It will be less expensive for hospitals to do it through us. Eighty per cent of our job is onsite. We have worked with over 75 hospitals in the country.
BT: How much do you charge?
Dr Bauer: It can start from Rs 2,000 a day for a basic life saving programme. A 15 day programme can be Rs 25,000. It depends on the specialization and duration of the programme. Sometimes the hospitals pay a portion of it, and asks the nurses to pay the rest. Sometimes, if the nurse leaves early after getting the training, she may have to pay a part of the fee. So it varies with hospitals. The two biggest problems hospitals face is finding nurses, and retaining them. Right now the turnover (attrition rate) in India is 40 to 60 per cent. Which means you need an organization to train them continuously. So we are trying to help them on both fronts.
BT: How do you do that?
Dr Bauer: We are coming up with some products that will help the hospitals HR department to find the right talent. Our vision is that Berkeley Health EDU certificate should become the gold standard for healthcare employment. The hospitals can look at that candidate with a higher degree of confidence. Next task is to reduce the attrition rates. We make the employees more engaged, and committed.
BT: Are you partnering with government in its skill development programmes?
Dr Bauer: We are a NSDC (National Skill Development Council) partner. We are planning basic training programmes through such partnerships too. That's on our radar.