Ratih K. Dewi: Good System, Good Results

Positive thinking, striking a balance betweework and private life, communicating with God the Almighty and getting on with other people constitute the real significance of the life of Ratih K. Dewi. An indigenous Balinese of the highest caste who wa born and grew up more outside Bali, Ratih prays every morning and afternoon after coming home from the ffice.

In between her busy schedule, she always finds time for her family. In fact, the highest position in Surya Husada, a private hospital in Denpasar, which she held until 2007, was not her main goal. “I’m happy working here,” Ratih said.  

Surya Husada Hospital may be considered a market leader among private hospitals in Bali and the second best after government-owned Sanglah Hospital. “When they need a hospital, after Sanglah, the public will consider our hospital,” said Ratih.

PT Surya Husada, where Ratih is the president director, owns a number of business units, namely Surya Husada Hospital (RSSH), Nusa Dua Maternity Hospital, Surya Husada International (five VVIP beds and Surya Husada Kuta Clinic), part ownership of Dharma Kerti in Tabanan and Surya Ubun Hospital, which is in the process of joining the group.  

Ratih, who from elementary school to senior high school lived in three different cities, joined RSSH after graduating from Udayana University’s School of Medicine. In 1989, RSSH was still a small general hospital with 25 beds. Ratih worked as a polyclinic doctor there. At that time RSSH was not located in the imposing building it now occupies.  

In her early years at RSSH, Ratih learned a lot about management from her seniors. As they had a lot of free time, they treated their patients and then worked together to improve their market share. Ratih often did the job of a marketer. Besides her medical practice in the clinic, she would telephone general managers of hotels and visit them to give a presentation. In the hospital itself, Ratih did a lot of activities related to hospital management such as arranging patients’ records, recruiting nurses, arranging salaries, managing the hospital’s finances, testing doctors, scheduling shifts, etc.  

In 1992, Ratih had the experience of managing the health scheme of the Four Seasons Hotel. “Besides receiving health scheme premiums, we also had a clinic at the hotel,” Ratih said. As the results were good, other hotels approached RSSH for similar services. Even the Ritz-Carlton, which was yet to operate in Bali, signed a contract with the RSSH team in 1995.

For Ratih, it was a time when she learned about corporate values and customer services. “I think if a hospital is managed with a service like what you have in a hotel, a patient and his family will surely feel comfortable,” she said.  

Since then, Ratih has fallen in love with management. Instead of pursuing a career as a specialist, Ratih, who practices yoga, opted to learn hospital management at Gadjah Mada University in 1997 and earned a master’s degree in management in 1999. After that the owner of RSSH entrusted marketing management and the corporate health scheme to her.  

She, too, was promoted from the position of coordinator of polyclinic doctors in the Kuta polyclinic to the position of director of Surya Husadha Hospital Club. “I feel at home working here because I have the time and the space for improvisation and innovation,” said Ratih, gently.  

Ratih, who loves traveling, has continued to rise in her career. In 2002, she was offered the position of president director at the hospital. “Initially I hesitated because RSSH was at its lowest point and I did not have much knowledge about running a hospital,” said Ratih.  

At that time, the owner of the hospital had a bank problem and the hospital building was in danger of being repossessed. In addition, the director, the doctors and 30 of 90 nurses left RSSH to set up a new hospital next to RSSH. Ratih felt she was lucky because at such a critical time, her husband, a medical specialist at Sanglah Hospital, fully supported her. So, she accepted the offer.  

Without wasting time, Ratih and her team drew up a strategy to ensure that RSSH would survive. She had high hopes that she would be successful because its medical specialists, customers and suppliers had faith in the hospital. The company still had a loyal market and employees. So she worked out a plan to cut losses, recalculated the corporate health scheme costs, revamped the personnel and built up the morale of employees. “I could understand how some employees could leave because of an uncertain future. That’s why I had to convince them that we could be better,” Ratih said.  

Marketing jobs frequently required Ratih to become involved from the bottom. Luckily, at that time the hospital’s corporate health scheme was doing well. Her team targeted hotels and companies with at least 50 employees and the response was good. “In my estimate we could have 10,000 clients in the health scheme market but in reality we had up to 15,000,” she said. Today, RSSH has a captive health scheme market of some 30,000 policyholders from some 100 companies in Bali.  

Slowly but surely, RSSH, which had suffered losses of hundreds of millions of rupiah, was able to make a profit. And not only did it manage keep its premises, it moved to a new building and people were vying to buy its shares. There were still challenges ahead, though.  

In 2007, Ratih was named the president director of the hospital’s parent company, PT Surya Husadha. In November 2007, a new hospital was set up. The owner was promising higher salaries, which attracted the interest of 70 RSSH nurses. When she learned of this, Ratih was furious but tried to think positively. Ratih could only tell the director of the new hospital that she could not prohibit the nurses from moving there but would advise them to comply with regulations.   

“They must resign from here first before they are accepted there so that I know that they will resign, and there must be a time interval,” Ratih said.

In the end the nurses did not resign from RSSH but they were accepted at the new hospital. This situation depressed Ratih. This was the most expensive lesson she had ever learned. Although she was angry, Ratih went to the launch of the new hospital. Her position as the secretary of the Association of Indonesian Hospitals (PERSI) Bali chapter meant she could not ignore the new hospital. Her personal relations with the new hospital remained good.  

“This was a big problem,” said Ratih. “But I had to break things down. I have to keep my job separate from my personal life,” she said resolutely.  

Once again Ratih had to save RSSH. In mid January 2008, she began revamping the hospital. At first, she kept the remaining employees and adjusted their salaries. Then she hired a consultant to take care of branding. With the help of several consultants, RSSH is undergoing restructuring. The principle is that there must be a clear system and that people must understand the change in system.

“Now whenever I have an idea these consultants improve upon it and apply it. I feel more comfortable,” she said, smiling. (Lily G. Nababan)  

The Jakarta Post, 24 September 2008

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