Berkeley-Haas MBA students Dulce Kadise, Hieu Nguyen, Suraj Patel and Lexi Sturdy worked with Thai hospital, Theptarin, to create a sustainable growth strategy for its sister foundation which aims to build healthier lives by preventing diabetes and its complications.
Striving to Achieve a Dream
To be Thailand’s leader in treatment and prevention of diabetes – A tall vision for Theptarin, a family-run, 80-bed hospital located in Bangkok. As a young doctor at a public hospital in Thailand over 40 years ago, Dr. Thep Himathongkam had a dream of what eventually became Theptarin Hospital. Experiencing the bureaucratic challenges of the public system, he decided to start a private, for-profit hospital where he could create a specialized, interdisciplinary approach to address diabetes. But Dr. Thep’s dream to expand excellent diabetes care and prevention goes well beyond the walls of his hospital; he wants to see it spread throughout Thailand and eventually the world, which is why he created the Foundation for Development of Diabetes Care Management nearly 15 years ago.
Our IBD team was tasked with helping this Foundation develop a sustainable growth strategy for it to achieve its mission of preventing diabetes and its complications in Thailand and its neighboring countries. But throughout our work with Theptarin we learned how challenging and difficult it can be to regulate and run a for-profit hospital that has responsibility to its shareholders while carrying out a dream to fight diabetes throughout the region.
After conducting several case studies and interviews with elite health institutions from around the world, we concluded that in order for the Foundation to grow as leadership wanted, it would need its own strategy, brand and structure. One of the key struggles the Hospital and its subsequent Foundation faced was the overwhelming interconnected nature their work. To help create a clear distinction between the two entities we created a new mission and set of guiding principles for the Foundation along with a suite of decision-making tools. By doing so, we hope to provide a clear identity for the foundation and help leadership make mission-driven decisions as it grows.
Dr. Thep’s dream is courageous and inspiring, we hope that by distinguishing and defining his Foundation, as well as running a fabulous hospital, he can effect change throughout Thailand and its surrounding region. This change has already begun with the trainings that the Foundation currently provides, which have inspired clinicians to improve diabetic care in their own regions.
Here’s a Youtube video of another fun teamwork building activity provided by the Theptarin Foundation: https://youtu.be/uKkVD53FOx8
Getting a Taste of Thai Culture
During the three weeks we spent in Bangkok, we conducted several interviews to test the hypothesis we had developed. However, these interviews turned out to be more than useful tools for our work; they gave us a glimpse into the Thai culture.
One of our favorite interviews was with a long-time patient and member of the Foundation’s committee. He invited us to his home to conduct the interview, which he described as a typical middle class Thai home as he gave us a brief tour. His wife and his dog were also there to welcome us. During the interview he told us stories about his family and his life. Before we left, he insisted that we try a variety of Thai desserts. These included mostly coconut treats, but also durian, a classic Asian fruit. Lexi seemed to tolerate it. On the other hand, Dulce really disliked it, and tried her best to hide it in front of our generous host.
Another interesting interview was with one of the top government officials at the National Health Security Office. This interviewee gave us a great overview of the healthcare system and the relationship with the private sector. As we were heading out, we took a picture together. This time it was Hieu’s turn to encounter a cultural difference, as he hugged our interviewee during the group picture, a faux pas in Thailand when engaging with those of high position, resulting in a concerned, but amused, look from our client.
Living the Theptarin Lifestyle
Given that we were living at the Hospital during our stay, we had no choice but to embrace the healthy lifestyle promoted by Theptarin. On the first day our IBD team was given a tour of the facilities by Tanya, the assistant director for Theptarin Hospital and Dr. Thep’s daughter. We took the elevator to the 14th floor and viewed our hotel-like suites within the hospital’s Lifestyle Building. Tanya mentioned that the building embodied a part of her father’s dream – a place where patients and the general public could convene to learn about and practice healthy living.
Soon afterwards, Tanya provided a tour of all the services in the Lifestyle Building. “We take the stairs here,” she said. After walking down six flights of stairs, we reached the eighth floor, which included a spa, outdoor pool, and fully functional gym. “Let’s see your fitness. This machine measures body composition. Who wants to go first?” she smiled.
One by one we input our information and had the machine assess our body composition through electric pulses. A composition dashboard was subsequently printed, where Hieu’s eyes immediately honed on his 23% body fat metric. Everyone on the team was similarly surprised, and together we formulated a plan to live the Theptarin Lifestyle. The plan was simple – a daily 7am workout, small portions in Theptarin’s cafeteria for breakfast and lunch, alternating days of 7pm workouts, and sleep by 11pm.
After sticking to the Theptarin Lifestyle for three weeks, each team member achieved better body composition. Hieu was able to lose 1kg of body fat and replace it with 1kg of muscle, dropping his body fat to 22%. Success!
Heading back to Berkeley the team vowed to try to continue the Theptarin Lifestyle for as long as possible!