Committed to strengthen quality healthcare service delivery at all levels. and bring far-reaching changes within the healthcare landscape, soft-spoken Dr Alexander Thomas is currently Founder-Member and President of the Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI)…
By Team Double Helical
Dr Alexander Thomas, Founder-Member and President of the Association of National Board Accredited Institutions (ANBAI), Founder-President (2012-2017) and Patron of the Consortium of Accredited Healthcare Organizations (CAHO) and Consultant to the World Bank, has served the healthcare sector for over 30 years.
His vision is to strengthen quality healthcare service delivery at all levels. CAHO (a network of 400 hospitals and 400 laboratories), ANBAI (a network of 500 teaching hospitals) and AHPI (with a membership of over 10,000 hospitals) have addressed several current issues for the benefit of the healthcare industry.
Dr Thomas has played a key role in effecting several far-reaching changes within the healthcare landscape. Since 2012, he has been engaged in discussions with insurance companies and other stakeholders to recommend basic standards for empanelment, and as a result, the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) has introduced entry-level accreditation standards for hospitals in India, enabling smaller hospitals to begin their journey towards complete accreditation. Additionally, in July 2016, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) of India issued a notification stating that entry-level certification is mandatory for empanelment of hospitals, and that this certification must take place within two years. As 33,000 hospitals are currently impaneled, this is a major step towards bringing quality healthcare to the common man.
Dr Thomas also played a significant part in rolling back the service tax for the health sector; making assaults on doctors a non-bailable offence and decreasing the electricity tariffs for hospitals in Karnataka. He has advocated for increased emphasis on communication in healthcare, leading to the incorporation of healthcare communication among the NABH Accreditation Standards for Hospitals (4th Edition).
At the national level, Dr. Thomas has served on several boards and committees: Member of the Board of NABH as well as an assessor for hospital accreditation; Member of the four-person committee set up by the Union Health Ministry to look into ways to reduce costs of under-graduate and post-graduate medical training; Chair, Steering Committee for Health and Environment Leadership Platform, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI); Member of the National Committee on PG Medical Education under the chairmanship of Prof. K. Srivastava; Member of the National Technical Committee for Setting Standards for the Clinical Establishment Act; Member of the Board of the Healthcare Sector Skills Council (HSSC); Member of the Task Force on the Skills Gap in Healthcare and the Committee on Health Insurance Fraud and on the Task Force on costing for FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries); Chairman of the Uniform Learning Resources Centre of the National Board for Examinations; Advisor to the UNESCO-NBE Steering Committee on the Teaching of Bio-Ethics in the PG Medical Education Curriculum, and Member of the India Backbone Implementation Network (IBIN) which was initiated by the erstwhile Planning Commission, dealing with issues relating to the elderly.
Dr. Thomas also co-chairs two national steering committees: one on the review of the PCPNDT Act and the other on the review of medical and legal perspectives of issues affecting the healthcare sector, such as capping compensation of medical negligence lawsuits, Advisory Board Member for National Referral Centre for Lead Projects – India [NRCLPI] and Chairman, Regional Working Group on Ethics in Healthcare, Confederation of Indian Industry [CII]; Convener, Recommendations to the Government of India towards the National Medical Education Policy, and is also in the Steering Committee on Technology with ISRO, ICMR, DBT, NITI Aayog and others,
Dr. Thomas has also initiated the concept of Think Tank on Health for our country and is working towards setting up of the first Think Tank on health at the NLSIU Bangalore, Member, Review Committee, NABH; Member of Technical Advisory Committee (TAC): Implementing a Setting Based Health Promotion Intervention for Prevention and Control of NCDs, PHFI, Advisory Board of Indian Institute of Healthcare Communication [IIHC], CII-TCM Core Group on Healthcare (CGH), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII); Advisory Board of Indian Institute of Healthcare Communication [IIHC]; Member, Review Committee for CPS Programme, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Mumbai.
At the State level, Dr. Thomas is Member-Secretary of the Karnataka Task Force on Public Health Policy, Karnataka Jnana Aayoga (Karnataka Knowledge Commission), Govt. of Karnataka; Chairman of the Advisory Committee for NABH accreditation of Government Hospitals in Karnataka; Advisor to the Steering Committee on the Implementation of NBE Accreditation for DNB Courses in District Hospitals; Member, Expert Committee for amendment of Karnataka Private Medical Establishment Act 2007: Member, Review Committee package rates SAST, GoK and Chairman of the Karnataka Chapter of the Healthcare Sector Skills Council, Co-Chair for NABH Accreditation of NIMHANS, Recommendations to the Government of India towards the National Medical Education Policy, Member, Project Advisory and Technical Support Committee (PATSC) for “Operation Suraksha,” a tobacco control project in Karnataka. He works closely with ISRO as a member of the Steering Committee on Technology, Chairperson, Committee on SDGs to Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-Being, Government of Karnataka. He is also Founder-Advisor for Federation of Healthcare Associations-Karnataka.
During his tenure as Director (CEO) of Bangalore Baptist Hospital (BBH) from 2006-2014, the institution expanded from a small secondary-care hospital to a nationally-recognized 300-bedded multi-specialty operation. Bangalore Baptist Hospital was the first mission hospital in the country to be both NABH- and NABL-accredited. The hospital has received several national awards, including the ‘Excellence in Teaching’ Award by the National Board of Examinations (2012), the FICCI Healthcare Excellence Award (2012), the Quality Council of India (QCI)-D.L. Shah Quality Awards (2013 and 2014), and the Indian Medical Association award for Excellence in Medical Education (2014). The transformation of BBH under the leadership of Dr. Thomas is now a case study for management students at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B).
The Handbook of Healthcare Quality (2016), co-edited by Dr. Thomas and compiled by him along with several other domain experts, and Communicate. Care. Cure: A Guide to Healthcare Communication (2014) are both milestones for the healthcare sector. The latter has mushroomed into an impactful and dynamic healthcare communication movement in the country, with training workshops and an e-learning course, endorsed by NBE and NABH, being conducted all over India. Another important publication led by Dr. Thomas (supported by the World Bank and NABH) is the Guidebook for Pre-Accreditation Entry-Level Standards for Small Healthcare Organizations (2015).
Dr. Thomas serves on the Boards of the Christian Medical College (Vellore), St. Martha’s Hospital, (Bangalore), ASHA Foundation (Bangalore), Mehta’s Hospitals, Chennai and Wanless Hospital, (Miraj, Maharashtra) among others. He is a member of the CMC Vellore Executive Committee. In the past, he has served on the Boards of Emmanuel Hospital Association (a group of 20 mission hospitals in North India). He also founded the Bangalore North-East Chapter of the Indian Medical Association. As the Founder and President of the Bangalore Chapter of the CMC Alumni Association, Dr. Thomas and his team raised substantial funds for their alma mater: Rs. 17 Lakh for the centenary celebrations (2000), and Rs 50 lakh for the new hospital at Kannigapuram (2015).
Dr Thomas was awarded the Emeritus Teacher Award by the National Board of Examinations for his distinguished achievements and contributions to the field of Medical Education (2014), and the National IMA Distinguished Services Award (2015-2016), Life time Achievement Award, CAHO.
He is an Examiner and Inspector for the National Board of Examinations (New Delhi), a Professor of Orthopaedics (Management Science University, Malaysia) and a Member of the Academic Council. He is also Visiting Faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B).He has spoken at numerous national and international conferences and written several papers and articles on his areas of expertise in quality and communication in healthcare.
Dr Thomas holds an M.S. Orth. degree from the Christian Medical College, Vellore, an M.Phil (Hospital and Health Systems Management) from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS, Pilani) and a PGDMLE from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore.