The year 2020 was a tough year for the healthcare industry – while the non-COVID demand shrank and impacted the business heavily, we had to gear up to be at the forefront to serve our patients and protect our colleagues, sometimes at the risk of our own lives.
Having been at the heart of all the action myself, I found the whole experience of managing the pandemic quite fulfilling with countless learnings around leadership, crisis management and team management – the most important ones being that humans are more resilient than they realise and adversity brings out the best in us. On the business side, two learnings stood out for me – one, technology will play a much greater role in healthcare in the next 2-3 years with doctors leading the adoption from the front and, two, we will have to rethink our business from scratch to keep it sustainable.
One of the few silver linings of the pandemic was the accelerated use of technology in most of our hospitals. Our Bangalore hospitals alone conducted over 20000 tele-consults in the first 6 months of the pandemic with an adoption rate of 80 percent among our consultants. We were the first hospital chain to introduce robotic patient screening, just when the pandemic had started. We invested significantly in physical infrastructure and safety kits to ensure the well-being of our employees and patients. Last but not the least, it was inspiring to see senior clinicians and nurses lead from the front and deliver great outcomes without worrying about their own safety – kudos to them all!
Thankfully, the year is behind us and while COVID has not completely gone away, there is a glimmer of hope that things will return to normal, sooner than later.
Bangalore is an important hub for Fortis Healthcare comprising five multi-speciality hospitals providing a bed cover of about 900 beds to the city. Our primary focus this year is to operationalize our new block at the flagship Bannerghatta Road facility and expand our neurosciences, oncology, and gastro sciences programs. We are looking to upgrade our radio-diagnostics in a big way with an introduction of a modern CT scan and MRI and have plans to acquire an O-arm imaging system to be among the leading neurosciences centres in the country. We were the first hospital in Bangalore to acquire a Da Vinci Xi surgical robot back in 2017 and have run that program successfully for 4 years now. That has given us the confidence to explore robotic usage in joint replacement and spine surgery in the foreseeable future.
We are also looking to expand bed capacity in our other hospitals in the city during the year with an aim to cater to the growing demand for quality healthcare in these areas. This will involve investments in terms of physical infrastructure, safety and quality devices and a few state-of-the-art cath labs and operation theatres.
Our hospital at Cunningham Road, which is a premier institute for cardiac sciences and has a legacy of over 30 years is now venturing into oncology this year. Our centre for women and children – Fortis LaFemme is adding a host of other specialties to provide comprehensive care to its patients besides continuing to focus on premium birthing. We are also partnering with some leading payor organizations on technology pilots to improve patient experience across the continuum of care.
We aim to be the best healthcare provider in the city by 2025. In order to achieve that. we will continue to focus on patient care, best clinical talent, use of technology, and expand organically and inorganically. At 900 beds currently we are among the largest consolidated private healthcare providers in the city and will continue to explore avenues for further growth.
This year’s Union Budget has reinforced the government’s commitment to strengthen healthcare right from the grassroots. My hope is that, that vision will translate into some meaningful results soon – hopefully by leveraging the capabilities of private healthcare, health-tech and the start-up ecosystem.