Saturday, April 20, 2013

Healthwise, Aravind, healthcare, spirituality, nonprofits and missions

In the last two weeks , I have come across two remarkable organizations in the healthcare space . They are located at diametrically opposite ends of the world, but they are uncannily similar !

One is Aravind , the world’s largest eyecare organization, located in Madurai in south India ; and the other is Healthwise , the world’s largest producer of health educational materials, in Boise in north USA.  Both are world leaders, but what’s amazing is that even though they are located on opposite parts of the globe, they are uncannily similar, because both are nonprofit organizations , which are mission driven.

Both have been started by individuals who had a vision for making healthcare better. One was a retired ophthalmologist , who wanted to cure needless blindness ; and the other is a founder who believes that patients are the largest untapped healthcare resource - and that information therapy can help them to get better healthcare . They are manned by people who subscribe to that sense of mission - who have imbibed the company culture , so that the people who work at both Aravind and Healthwise believe in what they're doing. Not only does this affect the company’s DNA , it also makes sure that everyone is on the same page . Their ability to retain employees is remarkable , and both have many talented people who been working with them for over 10- 15 years – even though they could be earning much higher salaries elsewhere. This helps is ensuring continuity and longevity , so that they will outlive the founders and will remain sustainable.

The other remarkable thing is that even though both are doing such great work , they are very down to earth and humble . You actually have to go out of your way to find out how great some of their accomplishments have been ! It’s been such a pleasure to find organizations who accomplish so much without talking too much – this is such a refreshing contrast to the big boys in the healthcare space who are quite happy to hog all the limelight and tom-tom their capabilities, even though they may not actually accomplish a whole lot !

Another common denominator seems to the sense of spirituality which imbues their work. This is not a term they use in their daily work, but they both agree that they are “mission gifted” !
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