BOOK EXCERPT

What can we expect from a novel by a former newspaper editor about the murder of the CEO?

It’s a whodunit, but is there also a game of spot the original?

Theresa Pereira – washed and dried, devout and scowling, fleshy in arm and leg – reached office moments before nine on Tuesday morning and not earlier because she missed the last of a dozen elevators at India Bullocks Financial Centre’s Tower #3. It had not waited, the doors closing even though she ran across the lobby shouting “hold-hold” to the poker-faced operator; so she waited several minutes as the lifts returned from their interminable journey up thirty-one floors and back before she could step into one and finally reach her thirteenth floor office.

She needed the time to prepare herself a coffee, fix her desk, and get ready for the arrival of her boss, Buster Das, the Chief Executive Officer of Morning Analysis, Mumbai’s fourth-largest circulating English-language newspaper. Running for the lift had given her a slight wedgie in her slacks, but what to do, a skirt would make her look older than the other girls in administration nipping at her heels and ready to take her place as executive assistant even though they had no experience managing a CEO’s office.

She dared not pull the fabric out while in the lift though she was sure that those louts from Deloitte upstairs had probably noticed and sniggered silently amongst themselves. Must be Delhiwallas, she consoled herself, but as soon as she reached her floor and swiped her card on the spooky electronic box on the wall just inside the sliding plate-glass entrance, she went behind her desk and discreetly tugged the wedgie out.

She looked at the daily planner. Mr Das had meetings lined up all day, starting with a presentation by the head of Human Resources, Mr Himangshu Roychowdhury, and the Chief Financial Officer, Mr Tilak Raj Tijori, at ten. Mr Das needed a cup of black coffee as soon as he sat down to help digest the several sheets of data from the night before: newsprint consumption by the tonne, production timings and delays in minutes, and daily revenue in rupees (lakhs). Theresa went into the dry kitchen that was a little more than a cluttered alcove located on the other side of the reception, and set the coffee machine in motion.

Theresa phoned the security guard to unlock Mr Das’s door. Then she picked up the papers deposited on her desk during the night and arranged them in an intelligible order. When the security guard arrived, jangling his keys, she waited in front of the door to the CEO’s room for the guard to unlock it. Then she turned the handle, pushed the door open, and screamed.

Buster Das sat in his chair, dead.

His head drooped forward, chin on chest, and for a minute he seemed to be dementedly grinning at her. But he was not. His skull had been smashed in and his white hair had turned brown, as if he had been preparing to dye his hair with glops of henna just before he was killed. It was not henna, however; it was dried blood which had streaked downwards in every direction. His hands hung limply by his hips. No, he did not look alive.

The door opened and in rushed the peon, Deepak Rathi, a squat, wheatish-complexioned man with bulging eyes whose premature greying was camouflaged by cheap dye, and who wore a regulation powder-blue shirt and navy blue trousers, machine-stitched from industrial polyester. In his stubby fingers he held Buster’s cup of coffee. Rathi took one look at his boss and his eyes almost escaped their sockets; he swore under his breath in Marathi. He set the cup down on a coaster on Das’s desk. “Who done this?” he asked. To the office gentry he refused to speak in the vernacular, no matter how much the executives tried Hindi or Marathi in their misplaced belief that it might put him at ease.

“Not me,” Theresa said.

The security guard was the next to come in, followed by others in the office who had heard Theresa’s scream and could not believe their luck – a spectacle so early in the morning, that too, on a Tuesday. Rathi herded them back out. “No one come before police,” he declared.

Theresa called the police control room.

Then she called the Editor, Rocky Borkotoky, who accused her of sensationalising the news, and the chief city reporter, Pearl Pandey. Both would arrive as quickly as Mumbai’s traffic would allow.

Then she returned to Mr Das’s room. Rathi stood still near the door, staring at his former boss. Theresa stood beside him and also stared at the grisly cauliflower that was once Mr Das’s head.

“Room is smelling,” Rathi said.

“Don’t open the windows till the police come and allow it,” Theresa said.

Das hadn’t been a particularly wonderful boss. He hadn’t even been a particularly wonderful CEO. There was so much that happened at a newspaper office, which was not surprising since about 500 people worked out of here. Theresa wondered how much she needed to tell the police as she waited for them to arrive.

Inspector Sandesh Solvekar scrutinised the trophy thrust in front of his face by Sub-Inspector Mona Ramteke. It was cheap and virtually meaningless till the moment it was used to bludgeon Buster Das to death. Das’s blood caked the edges of the trophy’s wooden base. The murderer had held it by the shiny brass plate. They would check for fingerprints, though the murderer might have wiped it clean or used surgical gloves like Ramteke’s.

“What a nonsense trophy,” Sandesh said.

“Yes, sir, it’s a wonder it didn’t fall apart on the victim’s head,” Ramteke said. “Or in the murderer’s hand.”

The plaque grandiosely announced that it had been presented a year back by the newspaper’s parent media company, Jeeyo News. “Special Award to Jury Member Buster Das,” it said. Sandesh snorted. What a piece-of-shit award. No wonder they called it Jee Huzoor News. What a stingy company. It couldn’t even spend the extra rupee to reach a minimal standard of classiness. This was clearly a Crawford Market knock-off.

And the dumb murderer also had to choose this plasticky trophy. He could have at least used the shiny, smart, silvery trophy that stood on the side desk next to Das’s laptop, the trophy from the victim’s previous newspaper company, News of India. Maybe the use of the Jeeyo News trophy was deliberate. Perhaps it was a clue.

Excerpted with permission from The CEO Who Lost His Head, Aditya Sinha, Pan Macmillan.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

At the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, visitors don’t have to worry about navigating their way across the complex hospital premises. All they need to do is download wayfinding tools from the installed digital signage onto their smartphone and get step by step directions. Other hospitals have digital signage in surgical waiting rooms that share surgery updates with the anxious families waiting outside, or offer general information to visitors in waiting rooms. Many others use digital registration tools to reduce check-in time or have Smart TVs in patient rooms that serve educational and anxiety alleviating content.

Most of these tech enabled solutions have emerged as hospitals look for better ways to enhance patient experience – one of the top criteria in evaluating hospital performance. Patient experience accounts for 25% of a hospital’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) score as per the US government’s Centres for Medicare and Mediaid Services (CMS) programme. As a Mckinsey report says, hospitals need to break down a patient’s journey into various aspects, clinical and non-clinical, and seek ways of improving every touch point in the journey. As hospitals also need to focus on delivering quality healthcare, they are increasingly collaborating with entrepreneurs who offer such patient centric solutions or encouraging innovative intrapreneurship within the organization.

At the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott, some of the speakers from diverse industry backgrounds brought up the role of entrepreneurship in order to deliver on patient experience.

Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.