Exclusive Interview: Liz Dantes, President, Manila Doctors Hospital

By Nurfilzah Rohaidi

This hospital in Manila is focusing on retaining healthcare workers and improving nurses’ interactions with patients.

Manila Doctors Hospital is a training hospital in metro Manila. Hospital Insider speaks to Liz Dantes, President of Manila Doctors Hospital, on the challenges she is facing right now, and how she is transforming patient experience, human development, and facilities upgrading, among others.

What are the challenges that you are facing right now?

In the Philippines there is now a concern that a lot of our trained nurses are moving out of the country, as there are more financial benefits and better salaries in foreign countries. There is difficulty in retaining these medical personnel and get them to stay in the hospital for longer. Even accountants are difficult to find because most of them are moving out to Singapore, Dubai, Canada or Australia!

We are doing a lot of talent retention programmes in order to make them stay. One of our primary goals when I became President was human and organisational development.

For us, there is continuous training among our nurses of both soft and hard skills, and continuous improvement of the facility. We are conducting human development programmes to retain them.

How are you equipping your nurses to serve patients better?

The nurses will always have their own training programmes in terms of better customer care and patient-centric experience. We need the patient to have a very good experience in the hospital. It's not just curing them or looking after them; they really need some extra effort in making sure that these patients’ needs are understood, and addressed immediately.

Because patients don't feel comfortable sometimes, they expect extra attention. So we tell our staff to be very careful in terms of how they relate to them, how they would conduct themselves. Put a smile on their face when they are meeting with these patients.

When you see others come into your room with a happy face, for the patient, they feel a lot better, rather than you see a nurse coming in with a long face. These are very simple things that we tell them. I think it is doing a lot of good for our nurses.

We are also training our back office and the support teams at the same time. We need a lot of efficiencies in the hospital to run it effectively in order to save costs, in order to reduce turn-around time in preparing and issuing medical results.

I am doing it, doctors are doing it, all of the managers and officers throughout the hospital, are really putting in the best effort in order to introduce efficiencies in the hospital processes. So it's different continuous improvements across the hospital right now.

How do you ensure consistent standards and quality of patient care?

It is a concern of all of our doctors as well. I think it's a continuous process of improvement.

Newly graduated medical students are always under a mentorship programme. And we make sure that all of them are properly trained in handling patients. With our nurses, as I mentioned, they will always undergo trainings, seminars or conferences before being deployed at the bedside. Patient safety is the core of the institute.

It can be a month of training before they are deployed, and when deployed, they're under constant supervision of our nurse managers or supervisors. This helps make sure that the health of our patients is well taken care of.

Aside from that, we are expanding our services and adding more private rooms for patients. These are no ordinary rooms: they have the view of the city, Manila Bay and the surrounding greenery. We're very excited about this, and hope that it would be part of the healing process.

We hope that the rooms will give patients the feeling that they’re not actually in a hospital. Of course, a lot of hospitals are doing this, but it is a definitely a step forward in terms of patient care.

What are some current healthcare trends to watch?

In the Philippines, even in Asia, a lot of hospitals have started putting up their cancer centres. Cancer is the third highest cause of death in the Philippines.

We have inaugurated our cancer centre with top of the line therapy machines. It offers a very holistic multidisciplinary treatment for our cancer patients, including their families.

We feel that it is one way of being part of the larger community, looking at the treatment of cancer very seriously.