• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Ademolu Owoyele: A rare medical doctor pioneering medical business education in Nigeria

Ademolu Owoyele: A rare medical doctor pioneering medical business education in Nigeria

For ages, many medical doctors in Nigeria have not looked beyond the horizon of treating patients in the medical wards. Only a few, like Ademolu Owoyele, are taking the bull by the horn to burn their fingers and succeed where others refuse to step in. Investing in the healthcare sector demands substantial capital and patience before yielding returns. Consequently, anyone considering entering the healthcare business is essentially engaging in a social enterprise.

Dr. Ademolu Owoyele, who is a specialist in business and healthcare development, has a strong background in the service and healthcare industries. He is a medical graduate with post-graduate training and certification in health, safety, environmental management, and health resources management from the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.

He holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Bradford School of Management, United Kingdom, and is a member of the International Institute of Business Analysis Canada. Overlaid on this base is a wealth of experience and knowledge gained nationally and internationally through training and work programs in India, South Africa, Cote’d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Ghana, among others. His experience has spanned virtually all sectors of the healthcare system, from clinical practice, managed care, pharmaceuticals, medical laboratories and diagnostics, business and healthcare consulting, to hospital set-up and management.

His expertise lies in transforming healthcare organizations, developing corporate and business unit strategies, implementing change management systems, and creating market entry strategies while growing market share. Dr. Owoyele’s clinical background involved roles with the Lagos State Health Service Commission, the Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, and Med-In Specialist Hospital, among others.

His management skills were molded from working with industry-leading multinational corporations such as Pathcare Laboratories (now Synlab) and Lancet Laboratories both from South Africa, and Novartis Pharmaceuticals from Switzerland. In 2013, he assumed the role of Chief Operations Officer (COO) of EKO Corp Plc. (Nigeria’s only publicly quoted hospital group), owners of The EKO Hospitals, and ultimately, in 2019, he was appointed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Transformational Consultant of the same establishment. He was widely renowned as the youngest C-level executive in the over 40-year history of the establishment.
Having cut his teeth across local and multinational firms, he is the founder and managing consultant of Harley and Wall Healthcare and Business Consulting, a business and healthcare consulting firm that specializes in capacity building, business transformation, hospital and laboratory set-up, and operationalization as part of its area of focus.

In 2020, he co-founded Harley and Rainbow Specialized Laboratories and Diagnostics, one of Nigeria’s leading molecular laboratories, which was a member of the Lagos State Consortium of Laboratories in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was also appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Carepoint Hospitals, a member of Africa Health Holdings with over 40 hospitals across four African countries in the same year. Ademolu is presently the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Harley and Rainbow Specialized Laboratories and Diagnostics. He is a consultant and advisor to Guidepoint Global Advisors, USA. Popularly referred to as “D’BusinessDoctor (DBD),” he manages, supports, and consults for several businesses both within and outside the healthcare space. He also has his hands in other business interest outside healthcare.

Speaking on his decision to become a medical practitioner, he said that it was largely influenced by seeing his dad’s work with UNICEF and his commitment and drive when it came to helping people. According to him, those early years instilled in him the same gusto: to provide help to as many as possible, “and I knew that becoming a doctor was one suitable way to achieve that but more important is to be able to do it on a broader scale which I was able to achieve through management training.”

Apart from medicine and healthcare, his background indicates he has a passion for and experience in business and management, which perhaps explains his constant motivation to seek knowledge in this field and try out new things. I never wanted to be stuck with treating a class of patients but rather how could I impact more lives and improve the quality of healthcare people receive. “I will attribute my flair for business and management as an innate trait, because right from medical school, I have been providing solutions to problems while making profit margins alongside and for this reason I won the Award for the most enterprising medical student in my graduating year. Another worthy motivation for my passion for business would be the fact that I have always believed I could do more and be more.

Medical science is also art just like Management which is both an art and a science. This is so because in art you achieve “perfection” through practice and in science you learn bodies of knowledge and apply theories which is same for both Medicine and Management. I identified early that many healthcare practitioners – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, radiographers etc. can be better leaders and managers of healthcare businesses if the medical curriculum and training is improved upon. This gap is what we try to bridge by setting up Harley and Wall Healthcare and Business Consulting; I know things can be better, so I made an unwritten promise to go in and make things better in ways I can, and that’s been obvious in what we’ve been doing at Harley and Wall Consulting as regards healthcare business training, medical business education to setting up the first medical business academy and equipping medical professionals with the right skill set, especially in leadership, management, strategy, and finance.”

“As a doctor, being able to efficiently handle important aspects of a healthcare business beyond clinical practice is really an amazing thing. The ability to do that as a medical practitioner lets you operate on a pedestal where you find things easier because you’re not a noob in other crucial areas of a healthcare business.”

Sharing his primary role and impact during his time at various healthcare organisations within and outside Nigeria prior to moving into consulting as a young doctor, he opined that most business consultants are usually retired from their usual practice.

“Concerning consultancy as a young doctor, I will say the narrative is changing. It was true that most business consultants used to be retired professionals, but now things are different. I know quite a number of my colleagues and acquaintances, in my age range, in consultancy, and I feel the change is largely motivated by the easy access to quality education and training available these days.”

Nigeria’s health sector is plagued by an inefficient system and evident instability. Most healthcare businesses and facilities are underfunded and inadequately equipped, and the workers underpaid and leaving the country in droves.

This evidently requires anybody willing to stake his funds and resources to master expertise, Owoyele, said, “A lot of Nigerian medical and healthcare professionals are excellent, trust me but the dire need for improved expertise is still there. This will help the thrive better, expand their reach to more people and offer better qualitative services. That’s part of what D’Business Doctor is trying to help address through Harley and Wall Consulting. Another point of concern is the current Japa wave the country is experiencing. When healthcare professionals are shown that they can be successful in their craft, we are better able to retain them in the country so this can be harnessed to help stem the tide of Japa out of the country, there are lots of doctors and other healthcare practitioners doing well in healthcare businesses in Nigeria and do not necessarily have to leave to be successful in their chosen field. They need to open up their minds to the entrepreneurship opportunities around and with the right support from the government Japa story can gradually become a thing of the past. The country is losing out on expertise that is not even enough, to developed countries. This is quite sad, and it shows the tough situation that the Nigerian healthcare system is in.”

Giving recommendation on what can be done, he proffered that “We need huge investments and improvements in our healthcare system, the government needs to do more for the industry to thrive. The recent Healthcare Value Chain Initiative of the Federal Government led by Dr. Abdu Mukthar if well implemented will also help healthcare businesses to thrive better. An overhaul of the medical curriculum needs to be done too, so the missing important pieces can be added.”

However, explaining the strategic role Harley and Wall Healthcare and Business Consulting is playing, he stated, “We aim to be the leader in creating superior value in healthcare and business consulting services for our clients, shareholders, communities, and the people we serve. Our mission is to use strategic thinking and innovation as a tool to deliver superior value and solutions to corporate and business problems to achieve true continuous improvement and transformation.”

So far, the firm has been at the forefront of solving major issues: “A whole lot, actually, as we all know that education is the key, and because this is a continuous process, we’re improving operational excellence in healthcare, financial mismanagement, healthcare quality issues, global best practice implementation, aversion to technology, patient safety concerns, and healthcare business continuity and so on, through our executive advisory and consulting services, strategic bespoke training masterclasses and programmes.

Despite being a doctor, his true passion lies in healthcare business and business management. Owoyele has been notably successful in various ventures and has consistently worked to discourage younger doctors from leaving the country in large numbers other than to improve their capabilities and develop their home nation.

For him, he is not against going out of the country, but when “you do as a medical professional, I believe it should be to acquire knowledge and then come back to utilise it here in your home country. There are countless opportunities here in Nigeria in the healthcare sector, if only young doctors would be open to seeing and exploiting them. So, at Harley and Wall Consulting, we have made it a promise to educate and develop the capacities and capabilities of as many healthcare professionals as possible to see the possibilities that abound in this field and to guide them in becoming better all-round professionals.”

Having understudied the major challenges, the healthcare management and healthcare consulting sectors are facing in Nigeria, he attributed them to economic pressures.

“We can all agree that the country is facing tough times, affecting the larger population. Another challenge is competition, but that’s not really an issue for us. When viewed properly, competition drives the need for improvement. Since we offer exceptional value, we will always remain in business. These are some of the major challenges we encounter in the consulting sphere.”

Responding to what sort of policies can be introduced and enforced by both the private sector and government that would help enhance the sector, according to him, speaking about policies, “I need not mention that the current structure of patients having to pay directly out of their pockets for healthcare services is a tough one, and keep in mind that it’s also one of the major factors limiting a whole number of Nigerians from accessing good quality care.

“Like in developed countries, I want to suggest that a mandatory form of health insurance be put in place to lessen the burden of paying out of pocket when the need for healthcare service arises. Also, the government needs to really come in as regards funding for healthcare facilities.

Speaking on plans and prospects of the firm, he stated, “We are proud pioneers of the medical business education and academy in Nigeria and this we intend to develop further. Like the name suggests, Harley Street is synonymous with the best of healthcare and Wall Street is renowned for the best in finance and business. So, you get the perfect blend of healthcare and business solutions and strategies with Harley and Wall Healthcare and Business Consulting. it’s a firm helping to transform healthcare businesses through medical business educations and advisory.

“So, there are plans in the works to go nationwide, that is, to enter into a form of partnership with higher institutions and governmental institutions all over the country, so that this initiative is readily available to medical students and in turn expose them to the needed skills to navigate the healthcare business world.”