Ms. Upasana Arora is the CEO and Director of Yashoda Super Speciality Hospital (Ghaziabad, NCR) - an institution synonymous with advanced and world class patient care.
A leading person in the healthcare terrain, Ms. Arora is also a Member of the NABL Board and Chairperson of Indo-US Chamber of Commerce (Healthcare Division). Ms. Upasana Arora has also been the Co-Chairperson of ASSOCHAM Empowerment Council and the ASSOCHAM Women Forum, and a Member of FICCI – Health Service Committee.
Ms. Upasana Arora is an alumnus of Harvard Medical School and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, holding multiple certificates from the hallowed institutions. She is also a Fellow of Anglia Ruskin University.
“My life’s purpose lies in transforming healthcare in India by focusing on patient safety and affordable healthcare. As the CEO, I have worked relentlessly to ensure access to affordable healthcare for all, regardless of their socio-economic condition. I believe in the power of spirituality in enhancing well-being. This belief permeates in my work, helping me develop a culture of ethics and values at Yashoda to ensure a seamless patient experience by actively seeking patient feedback”, says Upasana, capturing the essence of her own life journey.
The intrepid lady has also been an active evangelist of inclusivity and diversity at the workplace. “I have been active in working for women empowerment. My efforts in promoting gender parity in healthcare are rooted in the belief that unlocking the potential of 50% of the nation's workforce will not only empower women but also boost the growth of Indian economy. I am proud to say that these efforts have paid handsome dividends with the female staff outnumbering male staff at Yashoda”, recounts the change architect.
We enquire about the passions and dreams that push her on a day to day basis. What makes her get up in the morning? As with most leading minds, Upasana’s life is simple and profound, both at once. Her inner drives come from an unshakeable belief in the universe, its creator and the larger purpose that we are all born to fulfil.
Her day begins with a prayer to the Almighty, and a sincere wish that the day may bring opportunities for her to impact lives and society in a positive way by, in her own words - “Doing something good for them. Being born in this universe in the capacity of a human being – as opposed to other life forms - is both a great privilege and a great responsibility, and we must direct it in the service of fellow human beings.”
As with most self made successes, Upasana Arora’s life has been far from a bed of roses. She has had to fight her way through various odds and adversaries. Upasana lost her father at the tender age of ten, and the family had to go through tough times. A very active student in school, Upasana always had an inner voice urging her to aspire for more. Despite the ups and downs of her journey, that voice has never changed – even today, it reminds her to never take the focus away from the larger goals she was born for. The battle with destiny, however, continued when she lost her mother just before her marriage. The next few years saw Upasana play the role of a dutiful mother and home-maker, but the itch to make her mark persisted, causing Upasana to join Yashoda Super Speciality Hospitals in their original branch at Nehru Nagar in Delhi, the capital of India.
However, being a self-sufficient hospital that was already running smoothly, the new engagement brought little opportunity for Upasana to disrupt the system and prove her mettle, so to speak. So when the next outlet of Yashoda Hospitals opened in 2006 at Kaushambi , Ghaziabad it was almost like a heavensent ‘break’. Yashoda’s newest ‘baby’ soon blossomed into one of NCR’s finest institutions of healthcare - under Upasana’s relentless, doting and undivided attention. She finally had the platform and project to implement her ideas and visions, and she went about her task with zeal and diligence.
Upasana’s central ‘focus’ - as a professional and leader - is to keep her patients’ safe. It is a brilliant approach – both it its profundity and in its simplicity. After all, ‘SAFETY’, by its very definition and scope, covers nearly every aspect and facet of healthcare : Right across the value chain of diagnosis, treatment and care. The impact of Upasana’s strategy has been immediate and significant, and Yashoda hospital boasts a growing roster of patients and clients who are genuinely happy with their experience.
Journeys of significance often don’t follow a linear path. Apart from the standard twists and bends, there can be life-altering ‘U-Turns’ that change the direction and momentum of progress altogether. Was there such a turning point in Upasana’s life, we wonder. As it turns out, there was.
While Yashoda’s second hospital saw Upasana rise and shine to a position of prominence in the industry, it was her experience with NABH that, in her own words, actually changed her life. NABH drew Upasana’s attention to the lacunae and gaps in an “apparently well managed system” that had, for some reason or the other, evaded her attention up that point. There may have been several reasons for this oversight – after all, building a super specialty hospital single-handedly from scratch is never easy, and there are a million things to take care of. Nevertheless, it was the application for NABH accreditation that brought them firmly under the spotlight. NABH’s influence, however, went far beyond just ‘correcting shortcomings’. By transferring knowledge and insights on best practises and tested strategies, NABH engineered a ground-breaking transition in Upasana’s mindset and approach to leadership, and took Yashoda’s growth curve to the next level.
Upasana gushes about the experience : “Everything I am today, I owe to NABH. The stringent yardsticks they lay down may seem forbidding at first, but if you are willing to open your mind and learn, they can irreversibly transform the way you think, work and lead. My entire outlook to operations, efficiency and performance changed - at every level. NABH added the all-important ingredient of accountability, converting us from a merely ‘well managed team’ outfit to an ‘outstanding outfit of experts’ that leads its industry in every way possible – be it adoption of technology and next practises, adaptability and agile-ness to change or precision in care and delivery. So yes, I am proud and happy to ‘confess’ that NABH turned my life around. I extend my heartfelt gratitude and thanks to them for this incredible learning experience.”
Despite healthcare having a healthy percentage of female representation, with women occupying roles at every role and level, there is still a glass ceiling – sometimes, even a glass door - when it comes to ascension to decision-making positions at the CXO level. Upasana has felt the heat of the bias against her gender first hand. She shares candidly :
“I see this as a running theme across the healthcare terrain. Not just as someone who heads a particular super speciality hospital, but also an industry insider who is part of several prominent healthcare forums and industry bodies. I have myself been at the receiving end of this prejudice in the past, when people cast doubts on my ability to handle responsibilities at the top. With the grace of the Almighty, and my own faith and confidence in my abilities, I have been able to turn the tables so far!”
To create a ‘democratic healthcare destination’ - where a price-tag that is less does not mean less care but simply stands for ‘care at a less price’ – remains an enduring dream for Upasana. One she is taking bold and tangible steps to address, every day. She says, “The main gap I want to address is that of affordability and accessibility. I don’t want that there should be any compromise on care to people who approach a hospital at a time of dire need – even if they are not able to pay high fees.”
What is the legacy she wants to leave? How would Upasana – the Changemaker who leads from the heart – want to be remembered by? Her response is refreshingly uninhibited and original : “I find it difficult to be dishonest. I can’t lie, which is both a plus and a problem – especially in today’s day and age. However, that’s my nature and I don’t think I can, or want to, change at this stage of my career. So I simply want to be remembered as someone who discharged her duties honestly, and played a humble role in bringing the hope of a healthier life within the reach of the ‘common man’.
“Almost no one – with the possible exception of someone about to deliver a baby – approaches a healthcare facility in a joyful state of mind. So, I urge all my colleagues and peers to go the extra mile in ensuring that our customers and patients can, at least, return home with a smile on their face. It is our duty to extend a hand of help to them in every way – be it medically, emotionally or even financially. Let’s not look at healthcare as a business model. Yashoda is a fine example of what I mean. We have created only 3 hospitals over the last 30 years. We could have ‘achieved’ so many more, and grown so much bigger - but we wanted to avoid that ‘commercial trap’. Healthcare has to be much more than profits – it is must be about sympathy, empathy and humanity.”
*This story is published by VOH Team*
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