Bangkok Hospital CEO Accepts Top Leadership Teams Award

Rick Johnson, for HealthLeaders Media , October 21, 2008

All the way from Thailand, Chatree Duangnet, MD, joined us in Chicago last week to accept a Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare award on behalf of Bangkok Hospital Medical Center. This was the first year of HealthLeaders Media's global hospital category.

During the awards ceremony, Dr. Chatree, CEO of the system that includes four hospitals and more than 650 physicians, shared with the audience of senior leaders of hospitals and health systems from across the U.S. some of the challenges his leadership team faces.

He says his private health system has much to contribute to Thailand, a developing country of about 65 million. Dr. Chatree acknowledged that some find it hard to understand how a country struggling to provide public healthcare can be home to private hospitals that provide world-class care to medical travelers. He says private hospitals, like Bangkok Hospital, not only improve health coverage for Thais, they also bring international standards of care to the country. "The public hospitals are interested in coming and looking to us and seeing how we" provide care according to JCI standards, he says. In addition, he says private healthcare in Thailand advances medical research and brings additional revenue to the country.

As a private corporation, Bangkok has aggressive ambitions to grow by 15% annually, says Dr. Chatree, so executives, physicians, and employees depend on a culture of teamwork. "If we cannot work well together then we cannot serve 3,000 outpatients a day," he says.

But like many CEOs, Dr. Chatree says physician alignment can be one of the most difficult leadership challenges. Sounding much like a CEO here in the States, he says Thai physicians are uninterested in administration, but are passionate about patient care. Whenever possible, Dr. Chatree and his management team try to relate administrative decisions to JCI requirements. "We don't focus on administration, we focus on patient-focus care, so we use JCI for everything," he says.

Currently, Bangkok Hospital's growth is supported by medical travelers from the Middle East and Asia's growing middle class. Dr. Chatree says elective surgeries and cancer care will continue to be strong service lines for Bangkok Hospital and he also sees growth potential in stem cell injections for terminal heart failure patients; he says Bangkok Heart Hospital is advancing research in this area with the University of Pittsburgh.

I was sitting with some U.S.-based hospital executives when Dr. Chatree received his award. They were impressed by his candor and found it humorous that many of the challenges he faces seem so familiar to them.

Rick Johnson is senior online editor of HealthLeaders Media. He may be reached at
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