Dr. Alexander Thomas
PresidentCAHO & ANBAI
Dr. Thomas has served the healthcare sector for over four decades, and holds positions in several national associations that address issues within the healthcare sector: he is Founder-Member and President of the Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI), Founder-President (2010-2021) and Patron of the Association of National Board Accredited Institutions (ANBAI), and Founder-President (2012-2017) and Patron of the Consortium of Accredited Healthcare Organizations (CAHO). In these roles, he has effected far-reaching policy changes within the healthcare landscape.
He played a significant part in incorporating healthcare communication among the NABH Accreditation Standards for Hospitals (4th Edition), introducing communication skills within the MBBS and PG curricula for medical students across India, rolling back the service tax for the health sector and making assaults on doctors a non-bailable offence. Due to his efforts, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) had made entry-level accreditation mandatory for the empanelment of hospitals, leading to the potential empanelment of about 33,000 hospitals across India. Dr. Thomas led the expert group on medical education for the National Education Policy (2019) headed by Dr. Kasturirangan. He initiated the creation of a national Think Tank on Health at the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore. He was responsible for the founding of Vayah Vikas, an organisation focused on the wellbeing of senior citizens. He is also the Former Chairman of the Health Environment Leadership Platform (HELP) and chaired the organizing committee of the first National Conclave on Climate Change and Health. Other positions include Member, Steering Committee, One Health Antibiotic Stewardship in Society (OASIS) study and Founder-Member, Society for Communication in Healthcare (SOCH). He is a member of the Health Insurance Consultative Committee constituted by the IRDAI, Government of India, and member of the joint working group of the National Health Authority (NHA) and IRDAI for health claim exchanges by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India.
At the State level, Dr. Thomas played an important role in developing the Karnataka State Public Health Policy as the Member-Secretary of its Task Force. He has led committees for NABH accreditation of government hospitals in Karnataka, the implementation of NBE accreditation for DNB courses in district hospitals of Karnataka, and working towards a tobacco-free Karnataka. He played a key role in engaging with the Government of Karnataka to bring out a patient-centric Clinical Establishment Act, and through FHAK, was able to engage with insurance companies to negotiate reasonable reimbursements for hospitals while ensuring patient safety and quality care. He is currently the Chair of the SDG 3 (Health) Sub-Committee of the Government of Karnataka (incidentally the only non-IAS officer to head such a committee); Member, Vision Group, Medical Education and Health, Government of Karnataka; and Member of a committee constituted by the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India, to train teachers to identify children with mental health issues.
He is a Consultant to the World Bank and has served as a member of several Boards, including those of NABH and the Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC), and has been on many committees including those set up by the Union Health Ministry, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the National Board of Examinations (NBE), UNESCO, and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), among others. Dr. Thomas is a board member or advisor to many reputed healthcare organizations. He is also responsible for several successful health related start-ups.
He has pioneered several training initiatives and certificate courses for healthcare professionals through AHPI and CAHO, as well as in collaboration with PHFI, on different topics such as healthcare quality (adopted by several State governments); healthcare communication; and mental health and substance use disorders, among others. He initiated the first technology course for medical professionals in collaboration with IISC, ISRO and PHFI. He is an Examiner and Inspector for NBE, former Professor of Orthopaedics at the MSU in Malaysia, and Visiting Faculty at the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore (IIM-B) and the National Law School of India University (NLSIU).
Dr. Thomas has written numerous articles, papers and books. He has edited several publications, of which recent ones include; Communicate. Care. Cure. A Guide to Healthcare Communication (3rd Edition) in 2019; Climate Change and the Health Sector: Healing the World (with PHFI) in 2021; and several in 2022 – the Handbook of Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety (3rd Edition); Health Law and Ethics: Critical Reflections (with NLSIU); Perils in Practice: The Prevention of Violence Against Healthcare Professionals (with the Indian Medical Association); In Sound Health: A Handbook on Sound, Music and Health; The Future of Healthcare: Transforming with Technology and A Guidebook for Older Adults (forthcoming). Other important publications led by Dr. Thomas are the Guidebook for Pre-Accreditation Entry-Level Standards for Small Healthcare Organizations (2015) supported by the World Bank and NABH; Aspirations for the Elderly in India in collaboration with IBIn and the erstwhile Planning Commission; and Health Quality - Upgradation Enabled through Space Technology [QUEST] in the Emergency and Critical Care Departments, in partnership with ISRO. He has co-authored several white papers submitted to the Government of India on the topics of chronic care, climate change and health, and the reformation of higher medical education, among others.
During his tenure as Director (CEO) of the Bangalore Baptist Hospital (BBH) from 2006-2014, the institution expanded from a small secondary-care hospital to a nationally-recognised 300-bedded multi-specialty operation, winning several prestigious awards in the process. The transformation of BBH under the leadership of Dr. Thomas is now a case study for management students at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B).
During the Covid crisis, Dr. Thomas, through the state chapters of AHPI, worked closely with the Central government, State governments and NGOs to support India’s battle against the pandemic by helping set up dedicated COVID hospitals with ICU beds and ventilators, organising training, equipment, supplies, vaccine distribution, and resources, including the provision of oxygen concentrators and generation plants. He played a major role in involving the private sector in establishing Covid-19 testing centres and setting up courses for the training and certification of frontline Covid Warriors with NSDC. He lobbied with the Government and private sector donors to provide funds for families of healthcare workers who died while treating Covid patients. He rapidly set up expert committees to develop health-based recommendations to enable various sectors to safely reopen and start rebuilding the country’s economy. These recommendations were put into white papers on Covid-19 safety protocols, the safe resumption of air travel, and the safe reopening of schools, among others.
Dr. Thomas’ contributions to the medical profession were recognised by the Indian Medical Association, who conferred upon him the IMA Dr. M. G. Garg All-Time Achievement Award for Outstanding and Distinguished Services in December 2022. For his exceptional contribution in protecting the safety and health of the community during times of adversity, Dr. Thomas was awarded the Waterfalls Global Award (2022) by the Government of the United Arab Emirates, one of only 15 global winners. In addition to the awards received while he was the Director (CEO) of BBH, Dr. Thomas was also awarded the Emeritus Teacher Award (2014) by the National Board of Examinations for his distinguished achievements and contributions to the field of medical education, the National Distinguished Services Award (2016) by the Indian Medical Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award (2018) by the Consortium of Accredited Healthcare Organisations (CAHO).