Exclusive: Re-energising KPJ Healthcare

Consistent service: Ahmad Shahizam says the board plans to improve the service level so that wherever you go in the KPJ system, you would be able to get the same level of clinical care and service that is expected.

THE new group of directors in the biggest private hospital group by bed count capacity in Malaysia, namely KPJ Healthcare Bhd plans to rejuvenate the brand in the country and they have set the bar high for the group to move forward and capitalise on opportunities moving forward.

KPJ’s newly appointed president and managing director Ahmad Shahizam Mohd Shariff tells StarBizWeek that his main focus would be to re-energise KPJ.

“I am working with the board of KPJ to do this. That’s the theme that I have which is to re-energise KPJ so that we can continue to lead the industry. We also plan to improve the quality healthcare that we provide. We would continue to increase our service levels so that wherever you go in the KPJ system, you would be able to get the same level of clinical care and service that is expected, ” Ahmad Shahizam says.

Ahmad Shahizam who was previously an executive director at IHH Healthcare Bhd and chief executive officer at Pantai Holdings Bhd (a IHH subsidiary) had been appointed as KPJ’s new MD effective July 1.

“When I came in in July, it was also on the back of refreshing or revamping our governance team. The KPJ board of directors is relatively new. There is a fresh set of directors, the majority of whom are independent directors. In fact, there are 11 out of the 13 directors including myself that have been appointed to the board since the start of the year, ” Ahmad Shahizam says.

“So it’s actually quite a change in terms of the outlook of the company. We are led by a very prominent corporate figure Datuk Yusli Mohamed Yusoff who is also the president of the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance, ” he adds.

Yusli was appointed KPJ chairman on Feb 18.“We have a very diverse and experienced board now. This is part of the process of charting KPJ’s growth and future direction. We have seen this change stemming directly from the changes at the Johor Corp (JCorp) level as there’s a new management team that came in earlier this year, ” he says.

JCorp is the state investment arm of the Johor government and is the single largest shareholder at KPJ with an almost 39% stake in the company.

“I would think we are very much independent director-led now. For example in the past, the KPJ chairman’s role was also held by the JCorp but the current president (of JCorp) Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim is actually not on the KPJ board. It’s like the Khazanah Nasional model in the past where Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar is not directly on the board of (investee) companies, ” Ahmad Shahizam says.

He says that due to this, the governance of KPJ has been revamped in a significant way and JCorp is represented by two directors while the rest are all mostly independent directors now.

Domestic front

Moving forward, Ahmad Shahizam says he would like the KPJ brandname to be strengthened on the domestic front, in line with it being the biggest private hospital group in the country.

“Now, we have very prominent hospitals that is better known first as a (provincial) hospital which is also part of the KPJ group (secondly). For example the Damansara Specialist Hospital or Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital; these are all KPJ hospitals but people know them by their respective individual names instead, ” Ahmad Shahizam says.

“The plan is to actually position the key flagship hospitals as being the best in its class: at the tertiary level. Not from a premium perspective, but more of the service level and the ability with having the best healthcare services with various sub-specialisations, ” he adds.

Ahmad Shahizam says he would like to capitalise on and coordinate these flagship hospitals with its other hospitals – the smaller community based hospitals and the bigger state capital hospitals – so they may work together for synergies.

“There should be a natural seamless ability to take care of our patients with the hub and spoke model. For example, if we have a patient in Sitiawan, Perak who goes to KPJ Sri Manjung (a community hospital). But if the specialist feels a higher level of treatment is required, we can immediately refer this patient to KPJ Ipoh. So there is this continuity in care here, ” he says.

On its occupancy rate, Ahmad Shahizam says it has recovered to be about double at 52% from the lows that was seen when the movement control order (MCO) was first initiated in March.

“If there are no further resurgence of the Covid-19, we expect this to be back to close to the usual historical levels latest by the end of the year, ” he says.

“Our strongest year was 2019, we are looking at a very good jump in 2021 barring any major recurrence of the outbreak in Malaysia, ” Ahmad Shahizam adds.

KPJ will allocate capital expenditures of up to RM150mil per year for 2021 and 2022.

It is planning to add 900 beds progressively up to the end of 2023 with 600 new beds from the expansion of existing hospitals within the next two years.

A further 300 beds will be from its new hospital, namely KPJ Damansara 2 at Sg. Penchala, Selangor that will employ an asset-light model.

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