Transformational Healthcare Leadership: Frugal innovation

‘It doesn't always take huge amounts of money to be able to innovate. And I think India has many examples of frugal innovation.’

Eleanor Murray in conversation with Anupam Sibal

In episode 3 of Transformational Healthcare Leadership, Dr Mark O’Brien hands the microphone over to his colleague Eleanor Murray, Academic Director of the Oxford Healthcare Leadership Programme. The setting for this episode is India where Eleanor explores the innovative approach to healthcare in the world’s most populous country, with Professor Anupam Sibal.

Professor Anupam Sibal is the Group Director of Medical Services for Apollo Healthcare India, an integrated healthcare delivery system with a strong physical and digital presence spanning the healthcare spectrum and covering all levels of patient care.

For centuries innovation has been at the heart of the incredible advances we have seen in medical diagnostics, treatments and cures. But for Anupam what sets India apart from other countries is not just its spirit of innovation but its spirit of ‘frugal innovation’ – always asking how you can get more from that one pound or one dollar. Medical equipment is expensive he explains so you need to ‘sweat those assets’ for maximum return.

India is a very young country. So if you look at the population and dynamics that we have, the demographic dividend is very attractive.

Investment in healthcare is a long-term strategy for Apollo Healthcare and that means investment in education, which is the bedrock of future patient care. But their investment goes beyond the bricks and mortar of their schools and colleges with a strategy to leverage technology for upskilling. Anupam describes how at Medvarsity they have a hybrid model of physical and online training, and he believes that ‘the potential for this to grow is huge, because I think all of us are getting more and more comfortable with getting a lot of knowledge without actually getting into a classroom.’

And with a workforce of 750 million India will not only be able to cater for the healthcare needs of India but will also be able to help heal the ageing global population.

In our Transformational Healthcare Leadership podcast we are talking to leaders from across the globe about the massive disruption in ‘business as usual’ healthcare caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the depth of the workforce exhaustion, and the wave of technological and therapeutic innovations impacting the industry. Throughout this series we will be exploring the five key themes of our Oxford Healthcare Leadership Programme: 


  • the personal leadership journey
  • understanding the evolving environment
  • effective strategy formation
  • driving innovation
  • improving performance

Eleanor and Mark are the academic and programme directors of the Oxford Healthcare Leadership Programme respectively. They are bringing their combined experiences in leadership, healthcare and transformation to this new programme to help to foster the lasting change and innovation that today’s healthcare industry so desperately needs.