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Venu Madhav Chennupati talks about leading the future of healthcare

Venu Madhav Chennupati is the founder and CEO of Zolt Health Technologies, a leading healthcare service IT provider in India, specialising in the delivery of effective solutions in telemedicine, health helpline and mobile health services. He was recently recognised as one of the top 100 leaders in healthcare by the International Forum on Advancements in Healthcare (IFAH) for the year of 2019.

Venu was nice enough to take some time to answer some questions about winning this prestigious award.

What does winning this award, and being recognised as one of the top 100 leaders in healthcare, mean to you?

Personally, it’s awesome and it’s recognizes the hard work and effort I put into this field. Professionally, it was challenging and rewarding as I was initially not from this field and I only started working public health in India from 2009. It took multiple years for me to understand the deep-rooted problems in healthcare delivery and contribute in designing solutions along with my fellow public health professionals. I also think that this award will help me connect with people on a larger scale, allowing me to start working on some good public health solutions around the world.

Why do you think you were given this award?

IFAH wanted to recognize my contribution public healthcare in India in delivering healthcare to masses. I am currently the CEO of ZOLT Technologies, which runs the largest telehealth platform in India that has served 17 million health consultations. I also created the first private public health chain of clinics in India through ASVAS Clinics, augmenting specialty services through telemedicine. These clinics were tailored for towns and small cities in the Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka states of India. As founder of KRIA Healthcare, I implemented a clustered network of 165 urban primary healthcare centres for the state of Andhra Pradesh along with Apollo Hospitals. I think my ability to design large scale public health programs and take healthcare delivery to the rural masses of India have won me this award.

What do you think makes a good leader/contributor in the healthcare industry?

From my understanding of working in public health, you need to influence a lot of stakeholders and that involves people like public health professionals, doctors, policy makers, government officials, etc. As a good leader in this industry, I think you need to inspire and empower your teams and let new leaders emerge. We need a lot of them in this field.

What initiatives in healthcare are you passionate about for the future?

My view is that the future of healthcare will be intertwined with preventive, promotive, rehabilitative and palliative care, especially with regards to addressing the growing burden of chronic and non-communicable disease. This is especially true in India, and I will like to focus on devising programs that harness private sector ingenuity and public sector programs to address India’s growing needs. In particular, nearly 98 million people in India will have type 2 diabetes by 2030 and roughly 8% of the population in India is having diabetes. I think diabetes is the India’s fastest growing disease burden and I would like to focus my future plans to reduce the prevalence of diabetes through policy making, planning and building surveillance systems.

If you could win another global award, what would it be and why?

I think IFAH award is big enough. In terms of larger visibility, each year World Health Organization awards Public Health Prize for outstanding contribution to public health. This prize is given to prominent members for their work in supporting international and global public health innovations. I think it would a good global award to aim for in future. I also think getting recognized locally in India is equally important and would be happy to aspire for them in future.

What advice would you give others who see your success and want to replicate it?

From my experience, I think you need patience and collaborative effort to succeed in this field. Leadership in public health is a lonely journey and you need to learn and face challenges with humour. This reminds me of a quote from the poem Ozymandias by Shelley which summarizes that take your leadership seriously and not yourself.