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by Medtronic LABS

Empowered Talks with Charles Ruto: Building a National-Level Care Program in Kenya

Charles Ruto leads Medtronic LABS field operations for Empower Health, our signature chronic disease healthcare delivery program throughout Kenya in partnership with the Ministry of Health. We talked to Charles about the skills required, as well as the challenges and accomplishments he’s experienced while leading field operations for the first national-level NCD management care program in Africa.

Question: What type of challenges do you work with when operating programs in rural areas and how do you overcome these?

Answer: Working with underserved communities comes with its fair share of challenges. Patients travel long distances with poor road networks in search of medical services, especially those who have NCDs. With these challenges, the cost of traveling becomes inhibitive. Most of these patients opt out of medication or for the few who can afford it, buy medication from local pharmacists without any doctors’ review.

We continue to work with counties like Makueni to push for more clinics to offer Empower Health with their primary health care networks so that doctors can come closer to patients. With SPICE technology, we also support the community volunteers with diagnostic equipment so that the patients are assessed within their communities and if they have elevated readings, they are referred to a clinic.

Question:  As the field operations manager overseeing all programs throughout Kenya, what skills do you rely on to manage so many people and locations?

Answer:  As field operations manager, I wear many hats and juggle many responsibilities, so it takes diverse skills and talent to succeed. Field operations involves constant problem solving, especially as we ramp up throughout Kenya. Since this is the first national NCD management program in Kenya and in all of Africa, there is no clear path or set instructions for operations, so every day requires courage and resolve.

One of my most important tasks is to manage the people involved in all facets of operations. There are many involved in the whole operations process and managing them all requires strong organizational skills. For instance, for our programs to run successfully, I organize the duties and work schedules of all employees in operations.

Building and expanding programs throughout Kenya means there are lots of decisions needed that can have a widespread impact on operations. Therefore, when there is time to problem solve, I analyze the decision, think about the repercussions, and the impact it will have, and then make an informed decision. There are other times that decisions need to be immediate and there is no time to assess different factors. When this happens, good instincts and a gut feeling guide my decision.  

Charles Ruto signs a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Chief Officer of Health, Nyeri County, Kenya

Question: How do you work toward implementation excellence? 

Answer: Implementation excellence is the process of executing a business strategy more consistently and reliably, with lower operational risk and operating costs. To achieve operational excellence, it is prudent to have a clear understanding of the various operational processes supported by clear, documented standard operating processes (SOPs) that are reviewed over time. Once we have clarity on the processes, then it is imperative to enable the team to focus on key operational levers that drive the key performance indicators (KPIs). Being a technology-driven company, we equip teams proactively to manage operations using data to facilitate decision-making and prioritization of improvement opportunities.

Question: What accomplishment are you most proud of, or what situation/experience are you most inspired by since joining Medtronic LABS?

Answer: Joining Medtronic LABS was driven by the passion and mission to expand healthcare access to patients, families, and communities across the world with a focus on underserved populations. I am truly inspired by patient stories that we hear every day in the field about our contribution to human welfare; that no matter the circumstance of birth or station patients can live a healthy normal life.

Over the last three years, it is inspiring that as a team we have we have touched the lives of over 50K patients across the 6 counties in Kenya where we manage various programs. We have built a foundation that can be scaled throughout the whole country as well as into other nations.


About Charles Ruto: Charles is the Head of Field Operations in Kenya for Medtronic LABS and manages program implementation and expansion of Empower Health, the first public-private partnership for national-level NCD management in Kenya.

Connect with Charles on LinkedIn.

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