Why The Medical City’s president and CEO insists on innovation and breaking barriers 2
An innovative leader, Dr. Ramos has introduced several innovations for the benefit of both the patients and all members of the TMC community.
Culture

Why The Medical City’s president and CEO insists on innovation and breaking barriers

Dr. Eugene Ramos’ leadership at The Medical City has been all about making connections 
PARTNER FEATURE | Sep 02 2020

There’s little doubt Dr. Eugene Ramos feels right at home at The Medical City (TMC). It’s clear in the way he relaxes in his office, in how he knows the names of everyone he meets in the hallways. He started at the hospital as an intern, when the choice of TMC was just a young man’s whim. “The only reason why I had my internship in Medical City was because there was free housing and everything. I wanted to be independent from my family back in Bacolod. I was 24.”

But this graduate of the University of Santo Tomas was then also seeking to acquire the expertise he needed to start his own specialization and practice. “I was in and out of The Medical City throughout my life. I made use of the chance to see the country, so I became a speaker for a drug company, then became a medical director while I was starting my practice,” Dr. Ramos explains, looking back. “I eventually became marketing director of a multinational company. It opened my mind to the other side of the industry. After years of seeing patients, you are suddenly understanding the market, understanding doctors’ behavior, the behavior of the pharmaceutical industry, and the patients themselves. It really opened my mind.”

But it seemed like no matter where his career took him, Dr. Ramos’ path always led back to The Medical City. Before his current post, he was also involved in administration, was the CEO of Medical City Iloilo, and eventually, that’s how I ended up now as CEO—it happened exactly on this day, a year ago.”

September 13 last year, the TMC community gathered to celebrate the changes in “The New Medical City.” Nothing elaborate. There was a simple mass within the premises, followed by a short program with Dr. Ramos and TMC Chairman Emeritus Dr. Augusto P. Sarmiento. More importantly, the mood throughout the entire hospital was light, caring, and open.

Before he assumed the position of TMC President and CEO, Dr. Ramos was head of TMC’s Medical Services Group and also CEO of TMC Iloilo. It was in 2013 when he joined TMC Iloilo and it was under his leadership that the hospital turned into one of the top healthcare providers in the province.

TMC is currently the largest healthcare network in the country with one main facility (TMC Main in Ortigas), four provincial hospitals (South Luzon, Clark, Pangasinan, and Iloilo), and 50 clinics in strategic locations in Metro Manila and in select provinces.

“We have grown big, definitely. And as we celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2017, there was a new way of doing things. As you get bigger and bigger, the ingredients for success that led us to where we were at 50 would probably [no longer] be adequate or appropriate. When you become so huge, there is a need to decentralize,” says Dr. Ramos. “So what we did was try to start working on the culture. The structure of hospitals is very vertical. We really had to erode that concept of authority, because people were so afraid to speak up, or else you’re going to lose your job. So the first thing I did in terms of function is to really flatten the organization, and encourage communication. We put integration and collaboration, breaking them into functional units, into huddles. It’s really just grouping together to talk. One year later, I’m very happy and proud that the culture has steadily changed. I think people have noticed.”

Why The Medical City’s president and CEO insists on innovation and breaking barriers 3
TMC is currently the largest healthcare network in the country with one main facility (TMC Main in Ortigas), four provincial hospitals, and 50 clinics in strategic locations in Metro Manila and in select provinces.

When he was just a few months in office, Dr. Ramos already managed to break down silos in the hospital which was one of the major challenges at that time. He demolished barriers between departments and units, between the bosses and their subordinates, along with policies, processes, and procedures that do not deliver the desired results.

As a solution to the silos problem, Dr. Ramos championed the importance of human connections, of conversations that take on new potentials for innovation and organizational growth. He encouraged huddles among team members, among departments, even huddles with the CEO himself—his way of giving members of the TMC community an opportunity to share what they are working on and what obstacles they may be experiencing. This allows for exposure, accountability, and the opportunity for members to help each other accomplish tasks that may require extra support. The huddle also provides an occasion for consistent recognition, support, and direction.

Dr. Ramos introduced a matrix organizational structure in TMC which enables faster response and adaptation, as well as facilitates a horizontal flow of skills. This is mainly applied in large projects or product development processes, engaging employees from different disciplines.

An innovative leader, Dr. Ramos has introduced several innovations for the benefit of both the patients and all members of the TMC community. These include the promotion of a healing environment through changes in physical facility like opening the garden for patients; the launch of the Red Coat ambassador program committed to providing the best possible patient experience at TMC Main and TMC Iloilo; digital transformation and creation of the Center for Innovation and Lifelong Learning; automated business intelligence and improved financial processes, and war on wastes among others.

The “Red Coats” is also a program that Dr. Ramos is especially proud of. These red coats are essentially the hospital’s “cheerleaders,” in charge of customer service—but not in the conventional way. “Initially, no one wanted to wear the red, because people will know exactly where to go when they have a complaint,” says Dr. Ramos. “I said no, it’s different. Red coats go around and actually approach patients everywhere. You cheer them up, talk to them, establish a conversation, sit with them in the garden, all these things. I required to reserve red coats for those who have been with us for more than 30 years, for the retired who want to volunteer. I’ve also required some of the doctors to be the red coat for the day. And you know what? The experiences have all been good. Not only are the patients so enamored with the Red Coats, the Red Coats themselves have changed. They have in fact become more successful, it’s amazing.”

Dr. Ramos is seeking to bring The Medical City into the age of digitization, and he is finding ways to bring TMC expertise into the homes of every Filipino. Steps are being taken to create a home care system, and he states that while it’s in the works, they’re taking a mindful approach to it. 

The change in The Medical City has been from the inside out, and one that was also mindfully instituted under the leadership of Dr. Ramos. Photography is a hobby of his, and he is yet to get around to hanging his work in his own office. “People have to see the change,” Dr. Ramos mused, “The space has to be beautiful, orderly; you know? You change culture but also how the space looks like. Same thing here. A lot of times you see the walls, most of them are just plain because you’re supposedly not allowed to put this and that. Very sterile. So I thought of changing it. Our cubicles were isolating us from one another. So when you say you want to remove barriers, you want the organization to be borderless. So that’s what we did. We removed all the cubicles. We put a garden. It’s a lot of experimenting, but the changes have been good.”

A year as the head of a massive organization would have paralyzed a lesser man, but Dr. Ramos saw it not as a crushing undertaking or a way to aggrandize himself. He saw it as an opportunity to effect positive change. “I’ve been here since I was 24. I’ve seen how the institution has evolved, and where it was headed. I may have gone to the other side of the industry, but I would always come back,” he says. “I think the role of the CEO is not to go to so many meetings and do paperwork. It’s more of moving around, and empowering people to take action. If you ask me, if you are in a position like mine, you’re in a position to make a difference. All you need to do is really connect. Connect with your people, connect with our patients. Our purpose is to let the patient become a partner.”