Malaysian doctor is one of Asia's top young leaders

  • People
  • Wednesday, 14 Dec 2016

Dr Avinesh Singh Bhar with his wife Manvin and their two dogs. He is a pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine physician at Navicent Health in Central Georgia, United States. Photos: Dr Avinesh Bhar

He aims to “humanise” healthcare by steering the focus back to individuals rather than the industry, and he is in a good position to do so.

Dr Avinesh Singh Bhar is a pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine physician at Navicent Health, a large healthcare organisation in Central Georgia, the United States.

Recently, he was one of 33 professionals from 24 countries – representing the private, public and nonprofit sectors – selected as part of the 2016 Class of Asia 21 Young Leaders. Asia 21 is a network of young leaders from across the Asia-Pacific.

The 2016 Class was picked through a “highly competitive process based on outstanding achievement, commitment to public service, and a proven ability to make the world a better place”.

Members of the 2016 Class and select Asia 21 alumni gathered at the recently-concluded Asia 21 Summit (Dec 8-10) in Seoul, South Korea. The young leaders shared best practices in leadership and developed group public service projects.

What does being named one of the 2016 Class mean to Dr Avinesh and his work?

“It’s a humbling experience being in the company of truly exceptional individuals. I honestly feel out of place. In the spirit of grabbing opportunity by the horns, it is my goal to use this platform to move the conversation from one that is healthcare-focused (or industry-focused) to one that is health-focused (people-focused),” shared the 36-year-old via e-mail.

He aims to play his part in prioritising people in the healthcare system and industry.

“I hope to add a disruptive voice to the current movement in healthcare. Most things that people find important are not considered metrics of success in the healthcare space. This disconnect has largely been driven by the industrialisation of healthcare – through hospitals, insurers and the government.

“I am not speaking about going back to ‘the good old days’, but how do we use technology (telemedicine, machine learning, natural language processing) and advance medical knowledge (genomics, microbiota) to place the individual front and centre and not just a cog in the healthcare system,” he emphasised.

Born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Avinesh completed his MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) at International Medical University, Malaysia. Currently, he is pursuing his executive MBA at the University of Chicago (Booth Business School).

Dr Avinesh feels that ideal systems should support people within their day to day lives.

“This is the biggest distinction between episodic care, which we handle pretty well nowadays, like pneumonia, heart attacks, appendicitis and chronic care, which will soon consume the most healthcare dollars, even in the developing world.

“No amount of new doctors or gleaming new hospitals is going to plug the demand on care created by an ageing population (with a higher proportion of chronic diseases), so we need to start looking ahead and start talking about it,” he said.

Dr Avinesh is also a clinical educator to medical students, residents and nurse practitioners at his workplace.

“We’ve seen the industrialisation of healthcare first hand in the US; it is not sustainable, neither for the economy, patient nor the physician. Even less so for a developing economy such as Malaysia. This disconnect and depersonalisation of care is also felt in medical education, which I am passionate about in my role as clinical instructor.

“Physicians and other providers have lost the forest (patient population) for the trees (electronic order entry, misaligned incentives, documentation, care coordination), leading to burnout and lack of engagement to navigate change,” said Dr Avinesh, whose wife Manvin is also a doctor.

When asked about his career goals, Dr Avinesh, who reads and plays tennis whenever he has the time, said he prefers to focus on the present.

“I personally don’t have a set of defined goals. Instead, I would like to have an exciting and fulfilling career, in whatever form it presents,” he said.

As part of the 2016 Class of Asia 21 Young Leaders, he looks forward to the Asia 21 Summit.

“The Summit will be a listening and learning experience for me. The opportunity to learn and understand the vision of young, innovative and motivated individuals in Asia Pacific will certainly help shape my view of the world around me.

“The challenges in Asia Pacific and the world over needs a dose of perspective and understanding of complex systems. For example, health of the population is as much geography, education, food security and economics as it is about lab tests, imaging and genetics,” said Dr Avinesh, who lives in Macon, a small town south of Atlanta, with his wife and their two dogs.

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