Aster DM Healthcare – Best Use of HR WINNER– 2017


Currently one of the largest and fastest growing conglomerates in the MENA region, Aster DM Healthcare covers the full spectrum of healthcare services. An expansive portfolio includes hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres, retail pharmacies and consultancy services.

Aster DM Healthcare applied for four different HR innovation changes to improve the delivery of healthcare services:

– Aster SERVE (Service Enhancement & Standardization Initiative)

– Learning Champions (Creating a pool of 67 Certified Behavioural & Technical Trainers)

– Aster Medical Acclimatization Program – AMAP (Structured Orientation Program)

– Aster Soft Skills Accreditation Program – ASAP

The overall average of 26.55% increase was achieved across the 12 clinics where the program was implemented in Phase 1 and Phase 2.


Briefly describe the organisation giving the number of facilities, staff, revenue numbers.

From a single medical centre to a performance-driven healthcare enterprise spread across 280 establishments in 9 countries and growing, Aster DM Healthcare has transitioned into being a growing network across the Middle East and India.

Currently one of the largest and fastest growing conglomerates in the MENA region, Aster DM Healthcare covers the full spectrum of healthcare services. An expansive portfolio includes hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres, retail pharmacies and consultancy services. Our headcount at the Group level is 18, 815 employees plus; wherein GCC comprises of 8,471 employees and India has 10,344 employees. Doctors population is 2004 and the Units are spread over 293 Operating facilities including 18 Hospitals, 89 Clinics, 189 Retail Pharmacies.

Please briefly describe the medical service, which the organisation is delivering in where there has been HR innovation.

We are submitting four areas of work to support our nomination as Aster DM Healthcare. The cases are as follows:
Project 1 – Aster SERVE (Service Enhancement & Standardization Initiative)
Project 2 – Learning Champions (Creating a pool of 67 Certified Behavioral & Technical Trainers)
Project 3 – Aster Medical Acclimatization Program – AMAP (Structured Orientation Program)
Project 4 – Aster Soft Skills Accreditation Program – ASAP

The details of these Projects are shared below:

Project 1 – Aster SERVE (Service Enhancement & Standardization Initiative)

The Aster Clinics (Outpatient healthcare services) division in the U.A.E. was delivering services in various ways which impacted the overall service quality. There were different processes practiced in different clinics, as a result customers were getting affected by the service quality in the following ways:
1. Long waiting time
2. Limited communication on way forward for most of the processes
3. Patient communication services for Lab reports or Insurance approval messages

Our first and foremost promise as a medical service provider is, “We’ll Treat You Well’. Therefore, looking at the quality of our service the Corporate HR team partnered with the Clinic Operations, Service Excellence and Marketing teams to come up with a customized and focused initiative called Aster SERVE. As one of our key Pillars of Performance is ‘Service Excellence’, the HR team innovated an action oriented program that strived on ‘Serving with Empathy, Rigour, Values and Eagerness (SERVE)’. The objective of this program was to:
• Enhance service standards across all Aster Clinics in the GCC
• Standardize processes and communication guidelines to provide patients with a holistic experience at our centres.

Project 2 – Learning Champions (Creating a pool of 67 Certified Behavioral & Technical Trainers)

As the HR, it is our responsibility to create relevant business competencies for our people to ensure that we are molding or developing them to be the best they can be. As we say, we need to care of our employees, so they can take care of the business.

However, with a huge organization of around 18,000+ employees, 8000 of which is in G.C.C., it was quite challenging to reach out to all the employees for skills and knowledge development across G.C.C. (U.A.E., Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, K.S.A.). Apart from this, there were certain challenges or issues we had to consider:
• Employees were too engrossed in their work routine.
• Employees were not too keen in learning new ideas / having stagnant knowledge (functional /technical / behavioral)
• Service standards were quite poor

As a result of these challenges, our quality of work / service was quite low; thus, people’s relationship with internal / external customers were also low.

Keeping this in mind, in 2014, the HR Team thought of having Functional/Behavioral Certified Trainers that the learning culture is maintained and spread across G.C.C.

The HR Team hand-picked 67 staff from a robust selection of aspiring trainers, recommended by Business Heads. These trainers attended a full-fledged 3-month ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop keeping in mind the following responsibilities / objectives:
• Play a dual role – main role as well as a trainer
• Create and conduct Quality training programs which will create good business impact
• Establish and strengthen the Learning Culture in their respective Vertical

Successfully enough, with all the Certified Trainers we have, they have been actively and successfully training the employees (behaviorally / technically) to improve their skills and knowledge.

As a result, Clinical and Service Excellence are both taken care of our Certified Trainers and all staff.

Project 3 – Aster Medical Acclimatization Program – AMAP (Structured Orientation Program)
AMAP is an Orientation Program that provides a common platform across hierarchies and disciplines for New Hires. It is designed for a multi-disciplinary audience that comprises, Doctors, Nurses, Paramedical and Administrative staff. This stands testimony to how Aster DM Healthcare’s Values of Unity and Respect are practiced every day.

Project 4 – Aster Soft Skills Accreditation Program – ASAP

Propagating a culture of Service Excellence through its customized Training Programs – The in-house signature program called ASAP is customized to specific audiences pertinent to the job roles that are executed by each of them, specifically, Doctors, Nurses and Frontline staff.

ASAP is an indigenous program that drives Service Excellence across all levels of the hierarchy. It is customized to specific target audiences, aligns closely to their jobs and based on sound Instructional Strategy pegged at Bloom’s Taxonomy 3.

Please describe the HR changes the organisation has made which have led to better services.

There are likely to have been several changes to practice. This could include a transfer of processes from, say, doctors to nurses, which cuts costs and saves time. It could be a cultural change programme, which dramatically improved patient or resident care or treatment. Or it could be a training programme that led to big skill improvements. Please list the changes separately.

Change 1: Project 1 – Aster SERVE (Service Enhancement & Standardization Initiative) Aster SERVE is a standardization initiative that was launched to ensure uniformity in clinic processes and communication standards of our staff while dealing with customers. The project was executed in the following manner:
1. Process Mapping Few clinics and their processes were studies thoroughly during the pilot phase of this project. All the touch points for customer right from the time they enter the clinic, till the time they exit were observed and a detailed individual process maps were created for the 5 types of customers served at the clinics. All the processes within these clinics were relooked and revamped keeping in mind our key objective i.e. patient satisfaction.
2. Creating Awareness The Learning & Development team took the lead and constructed a clear cut model learning model for all the clinics. Right from context setting sessions with Doctors and Non-Doctors, to delivering training sessions and evaluating post training effectiveness, everything was taken into consideration. We created a clear cut training programs and materials to give learning a realistic shape in a real time environment. This model has been tested and tried at various levels and has emerged as one of our most reliable models that is easy to implement and is now considered as a business oriented HR model.

Aster SERVE Execution Model S.No. Criteria Accountability Large Clinic Medium Clinic Small Clinic 1 No. of staff – More than 50 30 – 50 Less than 30 2 Training Period DM LEAD & OPS Trainers 8 days 4 days 3 days 3 Observation Period (Post Training) DM LEAD & OPS Trainers 15 days (5 Observations) 10 days (4 Observations) 9 days (3 Observations) 4 Internal Audits People Managers On-going (after observation period for three months – minimum two observations per month) 5 Unit Audit CRM Team Within 15 days of completion of Observation period 6 Unit Audit Report CRM Team Within 15 days of completing Unit Audit 7 Management Audit CRM Team Any time (can be conducted randomly), at least once in three months 8 Mystery Shopper Audits CRM Team Once in three months for each Clinic

3. Standardization Conscious efforts were put in creating Process Maps and relevant process documents to ensure all staff and clinics were following the same processes. Along with these a Standard Operating Manual was handed over to each clinic to ensure uniformity across all the clinics. Likewise, from an awareness point of view a standard ‘Aster SERVE Training Kit’ which included communication guidelines and pocket cards that would help staff to communicate in a customer centric manner with all patients at all times.

4. Measuring Effectiveness There was a strong partnership between the Unit Managers and the HR Team in ensuring regular post training coaching was done for all staff within the clinics. As a result Unit Managers and the Area Managers of the clinics would share performance reports on a routine basis with the HR Team. For the first time there was an efficient 4 level audit mechanism in place to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

These were done in the following manner:
i. People Managers Observation of individual staff post training
ii. Area Managers Pre & Post Training observations for all Clinics
iii. Audits conducted by our CRM Team
iv. Audits conducted by Mystery Shoppers

5. Development and launch of Induction Program specifically for Doctors A three day customized Induction Program was developed for all new Doctors joining Aster Clinics. Existing Doctors are also going to be attending a similar intervention as Re-Orientation Program to ensure the 12 Consultation Standards and other best practices are shared with all Doctors within Aster Clinics.
6. Development and launch of Induction Program specifically for Non-Doctors A five day customized Induction Program was developed and facilitated for all Non-Doctors. These were divided as 2 days of General orientation and Aster SERVE Training (9 SERVE Standards for Non-Doctors were communicated). Followed by 1 day of health/ medical checkup along with Unit Tour. Finally the program was wrapped up with 2 days of department specific trainings conducted by Head of Departments and their team of Certified Trainers. This type of a new joining induction has happened for the first time in the UAE service verticals.

7. Process Automation Manual notification of reports and insurance approvals were earlier done by Nurses for all patients (irrespective if it was mandatory or not). However, one of the key changes made after receiving staff feedback was to automate notification services, which was done in collaboration with IT and Operations team. As a result, now customers are notified about the status of their report collection and Insurance Approval for tests/ procedures through SMS notification on their registered mobile number.

8. Reward & Recognition Programs After one month of completing the training programs, Individual Star Performers were identified from People Managers and Area Managers observations and feedback. They were personally acknowledged by the CEO and other senior management members at the clinic itself during an Employee Recognition Ceremony. The Star Performers were provided with a memento from the CEO, Letter of Appreciation from the Director and a Certification of Achievement for going the extra mile in adhering to SERVE standards and keeping our customers happy. Likewise, post 3 months of training once all the 4 levels of audits were completed the Clinic that crosses the 80% benchmark would be certified as a SERVE Standard Clinic and would be recognized on online platforms within the organization and would also have an Award placed at the Clinic Reception. Every 3 months mystery audits would be conducted to ensure consistency is maintained within the clinics.

Overall we very proudly say the HR team is leading and strengthening the Service Culture across all our Aster Clinics by bringing together individual departments in serving a bigger promise of our organization, ‘We’ll Treat You Well’. Therefore, SERVE is not just a training program created by the HR team however, a ‘WAY OF LIVING AT ASTER’.

Change 2 : Project 2 – Learning Champions (Creating a pool of 67 Certified Behavioral & Technical Trainers) First and foremost, to ensure the success of our ‘Train the Trainer’ program, we have selected a well-reputed institution to conduct the workshop for our aspiring trainers. We closely partnered with Manipal University so that every step of the way, we were there to support our trainers. After three months of rigorous training sessions and practices, all the candidates, fortunately graduated and became the ‘Aster Certified Trainers’. Once the program / workshop was completed, as an HR, it was the time to streamline and utilize our learning resources across G.C.C. At that point, the capable people are already present in the organization, so all we had to do then was to create a process.

So, we created a Training Process to follow / guide us accordingly:
1. Training Needs Analysis – done on a bi-annual basis wherein we partner with all Business Heads / HODs/ HR Heads to identify what kind of training programs they would like to conduct for their staff’s improvements / requirements

2. Content Development – partnership between HR and the Certified Trainers, wherein we guide in designing the content and materials for the program, to ensure quality standards

3. Training Delivery – constant observation, coaching and giving feedback to our Certified Trainers

4. Measuring Effectiveness – Feedback collection after each program conducted, random audits by HR

5. Rewards & Recognition for the Learning Champions – On a quarterly basis, we recognize our Certified Trainers for a job well done and for the business impact they have given through training / passing skills and knowledge to all employees Additional Contributions: Through our Certified Trainers (functional wise) we have created a lot of Training Programs which are beneficial to our clinical / non-clinical staff. For example, Aster DMH U.A.E. has been a certified training site for ‘Basic Life Support (BLS)’, sanctioned by Emergency Care International Training Centre. Our Certified Nursing Trainers were able to cover 90% of the Clinical staff in the U.A.E. and aims to complete it by end of January, 2016.

Another example is ‘Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), which was designed for those who work with newborns (NICU, Maternity Staff, L&D Staff, OB –GYN, Neonatologists). For non-clinical staff, our Certified Trainers created certain programs which help them understand the customers’ / patients’ medical queries. For example, ‘Medical Terminology Program’ is designed for all employees who are working in the clinic, without medical background. There is a post-assessment after the session to evaluate knowledge retention. After the program, the employees are expected to have more sense / understanding of whatever complaints a customer / patient may have when visiting a clinic / hospital. The aim of the program is to prepare our staff to be more medically inclined and have a sense of urgency when a case is presented to them.

Another example is our ‘Basic Arabic Communication Program’, which was designed for all employees. Since Aster is in the Middle East region, majority of our customers are Arabic speaking. Therefore, one of our Certified Trainers took an initiative to create this Language program focusing on medical terms and basic communication with Arabic-speaking customers. For all the programs mentioned above, the employees need not to pay for their learnings as these are all done in-house. Secondly, all the programs created by the Certified Trainers were beneficial not only to the employees but for the betterment of our customer service.

When did the HR changes start affecting service delivery?

Month : May

Year : 2016 – 2017

What are the main key performance indicators? How does the organisation measure the success of the project?

Project 1 – Aster SERVE (Service Enhancement & Standardization Initiative)

The following measures are used to check the success of the project:

  1. People Managers Audit Report of their team’s performance

Overall average of 26.55% increase in Clinic Service Quality Post SERVE Implementation across the 12 clinics where the program was implemented in Phase 1 and Phase 2.

  1. Mystery Shopper Audit Reports – unbiased view of the Clinic services and satisfaction level of patients
  2. CRM Audit Report – detailed analysis of each department of the clinic is created and shared with the management team. Clinic managers are encouraged to appreciate the good practices and take care of the improvement areas

Project 2 – Learning Champions (Creating a pool of 67 Certified Behavioral & Technical Trainers)

  1. Through Customer Feedback – average of 10% increase on feedback scores from F.Y. 2015-2016
  2. R&R for Learning Champions
  3. Learning & Development Dashboard
  1. Training Needs Analysis