Hospitals are not like a McDonalds chain
'Hospitals are not like a McDonald's chain'

It is not easy to standardise processes in the corporate hospital setup says Mr S Premkumar Group CEO Apollo HospitalsIt requires tremendous investment and years of experience he says More from Mr Premkumar on the broad trends driving the industry

There is a crying need for healthcare especially private players But there are only two national hospital chains What explains this skew

One cannot really compare hospitals with a McDonalds or Subway chain and say lets standardise the kitchen and menu Yes there is a crying need for more players without doubt But there is significant amount of specialisation in the healthcare industry There is an art and science behind it with respect to consultation nursing technology experience that a patient and attendant go through There is lot of customisation required even when you try to replicate the model elsewhere We need to stepbystep and meticulously bring in standard processes lookandfeel and culture All this takes tremendous amount of investment and years of experience

What broad trends do you see in this industry

The broad trend is that there is greater amount of specialisation On the other hand there is a lot of effort today on preventive medicine Apollo has done 65 million preventive checkups India is already the heart disease diabetes and cancer capital If you look at the kind of facilities available and the demand India is woefully short The one solution and biggest challenge is to have significant amount of presence in preventive care through early screening early diagnosis lifestyle changes and wellness focus It is ironic

We are in the business of tertiary care but we have to be conscious of the fact that we dont want people to go for treatment

You are looking at a 10000 bed capacity by 2015 Where will you tap into for the requisite skills

Look we do not want to cannibalise from other hospitals in India as that will not solve the doctor deficit in the country

Reverse brain drain is a captive market to look at With the global economy being down there is a tremendous opportunity for Indian doctors to return This will constitute a large portion of our hiring We already see a steady trickle from the US UK and Australia

You have a significant presence in small towns through the Reach hospitals Is affordability an issue here

Often affordability gets mixed up with value Quality clinical care is priceless We do not have a different pricing strategy in small towns We are seeing demographics from lower strata coming to Apollo It is a myth that some things are cheaper in some places and some hospitals Insurance penetration is picking up slowly in tier 2 and 3 cities especially statefunded insurance like in Tamil Nadu which is driving affordability

What are your plans for the overseas market

We have information centres in Africa and West Asia They are run by channel partners who have some connect with the community

A healthcare facilitator at the centre will give information on various procedures consultants what arrangements will be made etc These centres are present in malls or hospitals

We are trying to expand this network and see if these centres can be used for primary consulting and remote consultation using technology telemedicine

We are also the operations service provider to help set up a hospital centre in Tanzania

What about daycare centres

We have daycare surgery centre We also have centres for cosmetology and dental besides sugar clinics All these formats will be expanded

We will also create newer formats in lifestylerelated areas We are also looking at knee care These centres need to be made good to create scale

These centres have a smaller footprint but they act as referrals into the larger centres With shorter turnaround and lesser capital the breakeven potential is huge

Date : 22 May, 2012
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