INSEAD Participant Interview
Middle East Health Leadership Programme: Blending Business and Healthcare
Khalil Abdel Khalek
Middle East Health Leadership Programme Alumnus 2016
Middle East Health Leadership Programme alumnus, Khalil Abdel Khalek, talks about his experience at INSEAD and how he found the perfect blend between business and healthcare.
Can you please introduce yourself?
I am Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Cairo University, where I have been working for the past 14 years as well as in my private practice.
Five years ago, I decided to start my own company, Tabibi247 (My Doctor 247) with the aim of delivering primary and urgent healthcare around the clock.
I come from a family of pediatricians, with my grandfather and father both practicing. I initially went into the family practice which was doing well. However, the business reached a level of success that made me feel I couldn’t deliver the quality of healthcare I wanted to. I couldn’t handle the demand. I wasn’t able to neither answer all the calls, nor make all the house visits, I wanted to.
As a result of this, I thought there must be a better way to deliver healthcare and Tabibi247 was born.
Why did you choose to enroll on the Middle East Health Leadership Programme?
I didn’t know about the programme, but I have a couple of mentors one of whom sent me information about the Middle East Health Leadership Programme. I took a look and thought ‘wow!’ It seemed to be the perfect blend between business and healthcare. So, I enrolled to improve myself and my knowledge.
What improvements in your knowledge were you hoping to see?
A few things come to mind: managing people, leading in uncertain times and understanding how to manage when things go wrong, or not to plan.
All of these are extremely important when running your business.
Do you feel the programme met your expectations?
Very much so. Between the faculty and choice of material, the programme surpassed my expectations and was a perfect experience. I have done other programmes in the past, but what made the Middle East Health Leadership Programme stand out was that blend between business and healthcare. It’s unique.
Having the opportunity to be in the same room as peers in different medical areas made the conversations all the more interesting and really helped keep people engaged.
What were some of the challenges you faced when setting up your company and did the MIDDLE EAST HEALTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME help with these?
I can’t identify specific challenges, but what I can say is that one of the biggest areas which the Middle East Health Leadership Programme helped with was growing my company and integrating it with a much larger healthcare body.
There was a day on the programme which focused on organisational structure and how to get things done in large organisations. The day helped understand the decision making process in such entities and how to find your way. The day included a simulation and it was a great experience.
As a company, we ask ourselves how we develop as managers and people. We are big believers in development and what the programme does is give you a different perspective and context. I need that context and perspective to help me continue the journey.
How important was having your peers in the classroom with you?
I found it to be a little like group therapy. It helps you realise everyone has the same challenges and difficulties. As a result you feel less alone than you did before the programme. It’s strongly motivational.
We shared success stories and shared learnings which will both help me achieve my goals. So, the networking and peer dynamics was important on a professional level, but more importantly, also on a psychological level.
Can you tell us more about another project you have been engaged in with Uber Egypt?
Tabibi247 was the first to partner with UberHEALTH in the Middle East.
The idea behind the project was to make healthcare delivery as easy and quick as possible. I’ve long been fascinated with the Uber platform and so we held long talks with them about improving healthcare delivery.
So, we decided that we would test the partnership on World Diabetes Day. The idea was to have Doctors all over Cairo and Alexandria carrying out house visits. They would be called using the Uber platform. So they were just a click away.
They would go to the patient’s house and would access the risk of diabetes by testing blood sugar, go through a check list and subsequently give recommendations.
In total, they carried out 150 visits.
Did the programme help with this idea?
Yes it did. There was an ‘aha’ moment during our discussions on design thinking and Ideo. They really stuck with me. These discussions helped frame the design thinking and ideation behind the project.
Were you surprised by the knowledge gained on the programme?
I am a very big believer in putting people in a room and giving them the right kind of mental stimulation. With the right discussions and the right faculty, you get the best out of everyone.
In fact, having a classroom in every company is something I believe in. We have one at Tabibi247 - the Tabibi247 Academy - and we invite doctors, admin staff and business men and women to talk and exchange views. We want to approach healthcare differently. We want to disrupt it.
In what way did the programme influence and help with your projects?
It gave me a much more structured approach to my work. It gave me time to reflect and think about what we have achieved so far and where we’d like to be. What are our end goals?
It also made me much more resilient, something that is not easy, but is important when building your business.
So the programme helped give me structure and methodology.
Additionally, it helped me take my ideas from paper and action them successfully.
Overall the Middle East Health Leadership Programme was a great opportunity to work on the business. It helped me take a step out of work and see my projects and life from a different perspective.
What was one of your key programme takeaways?
Perhaps the main one that changed my management strategy was to stop and ask if the question posed in meetings etc is based on an assumption, or a fact. This has helped me a lot over the past eight months.
What did you think of the teaching?
It was amazingly done and very well organised.
Having faculty who are focused on healthcare and have spent time studying institutions and the industry was great.
The case study methodology is an important way of teaching. It’s a good way to understand and put in context.
More than the lectures and knowledge, what really made the programme learning stand out were the discussions we had during the breaks.
How important is it to improve and invent solutions in healthcare?
It’s very important. Healthcare is divided into two areas: the delivery part and technical part.
Over the years there have been big innovations in technique from new operating theatres, new diagnosis techniques to new tools and laboratories. However, delivery has remained the same. So much can be done there. There is so much value to be captured.
We need improvements in the delivery and technical parts to go hand in hand. We need to invest more in the delivery part as innovation is very important for every single part of healthcare. We need to start applying increasing design thinking among staff. This was another key programme takeaway.
For Tabibi247, we are fine-tuning every step; the entire patient journey. Adopting a design thinking mindset is helping us to improve and innovate our services.
Interested in INSEAD's Middle East Health Leadership Programme? Have a look at the Middle East Health Leadership Programme web page.