Binay Shetty
Vice Chairman and CEO,
BRS Ventures

BR Life Surges Ahead with Exponential Growth Plans in India

On the healthcare market in India vis-à-vis the global market

The healthcare market in India is large and has the potential to grow even bigger. There are several players carrying out impressive work in India. India has the largest number of healthcare professionals in the world. Medical students in India get the highest exposure to varied disease training. Some tropical and unique diseases like congenital heart disease, unseen in other parts of the world like the United States of America are prevalent in India. Hence, Indian doctors are well-versed in several areas.

India has a growing and young population. Hence, the opportunity is in building quality and capacity and not in terms of managing an aging population like the west. Medical tourism is an upcoming area of focus for healthcare providers in India. There are an increasing number of patients travelling to India to avail medical facilities which are of high quality yet much more affordable as compared to the west.

On budgetary allocation in healthcare

India spends 4 percent of its GDP on healthcare. The government should increase this to 5 percent of GDP to begin with. The government recently announced universal health coverage of `5 lakh to 10 crore people, but this is about 10 percent of the population; which is a giant step in the right direction. This proportion should ideally increase in the time to come. This will help consumers to mitigate spending on health services out of their pocket.

The government should offer special concessions on medical devices as a part of the Make in India campaign. This will help reduce the overall costs for the hospital and they can thus pass on the cost benefit to the consumer. 24 new medical colleges have also been announced as part of the budget. This is great, and it will help improve the doctor–patient ratio.

Healthcare is a sunrise industry in the country. It is encouraging to see the government’s focus increasing on the sector.

On planned budgetary allocation for the fiscal year 2018–2019

BR Life will be expanding in India through acquisitions, O&M, and Greenfield projects. The timeline for a couple of these projects might extend beyond 2018–2019 as well. We have allocated an estimated `200 crore expenditure on medical equipment and devices.

On outlook for the year

Our vision is quality, ethical healthcare at affordable costs. Born and raised in India, my plan was always to do something for the betterment of the people of India. This led to the creation of BR Life. BR Life includes hospitals in India and the sub-continent. SUT Hospital, Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram was the first BR Life hospital in India. Sree Narayana Hospital (SNH), Raipur, SSNMC Super Specialty Hospital Bangalore, Mother and Child Hospital in Udupi, and Kalinga Hospital in Bhubaneshwar are the newer hospitals under BR Life.

The group is forging ahead in its mission to create a better world with several upcoming projects. Currently, the group operates and manages over
1600 beds and intends to concentrate on creating a strong network of hospitals in several Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III cities across India and the sub-continent. The main aim is to attain a critical mass of around 5000 beds over the next 3-4 years and over 20,000 beds thereafter. With safety as the cornerstone, BR Life is focused on accurate diagnosis, scientific
treatment, and precise delivery of healthcare services. Scientific cost accounting, standardization of procedures, proper training, and alignment with medical and non-medical professionals are just some of the focus areas that BR Life is working tirelessly to improve patient experience, engagement, and satisfaction.

We are a very young company and very excited about our foray in India. We look forward to offering our best services to add to the healthcare sector in India.

On monitoring the quality of private healthcare

The National Medical Commission Bill 2017 covers all matters related to Quality. National Accredited Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) and Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditations ensure quality standards are met and hospitals can maintain patient safety. If quality is viewed as a cost while establishing medical institutions, then in the long term they will leave deep cost implications for hospitals and patients. The quality policies need to be greatly strengthened.

On importance of public private partnership in making healthcare a success

Public private partnership is critical to enhance the overall healthcare system across all tiers and sections of the society. We have recently begun making inroads into this space in India. We have been selected by the Government of Karnataka to set up, upgrade, operate, and manage dialysis centers in seven clusters across the state for a period of 5 years. Each cluster has a combination of already existing dialysis units at taluka hospitals, functional dialysis units requiring upgradation at district/major hospitals, and set up new dialysis units. This is the first of its kind PPP project undertaken by the government with our support.

BR Life has also taken over the existing government’s Mother and Child Hospital and constructed a new hospital which is currently offering free medical care to the underprivileged people in the region. This is a 200-bed hospital that will go a long way in providing high-quality healthcare services with advanced diagnostic facilities together with the highest level of care and commitment to the people of Karnataka. This hospital will bring world class healthcare facilities to the women and children of the region and provide services to the weakest sections of the society.

On areas where government should invest

A robust treatment value chain needs to be created. The government should focus on creating quality infrastructure, medical professionals – doctors and nursing staff, quality protocols need to be established and implemented. Although India has one of the largest shares of doctors in the world, they are unfortunately concentrated in the big cities. Measures should be taken to incentivize doctors to serve in Tier II and III cities as well as villages. After graduation, before MBBS professionals begin their post-graduation, the doctors could be asked to sign a bond to serve for some time in villages. This will give them great exposure, learning, and make-even the lopsided distribution of doctors in the county.

There are very select states in India, for example Kerala and Punjab which contribute the most to the nursing system. As a country, we should share this responsibility across all states and the respective state governments should take-up this cause and enhance the nursing education and training institutes.

All these will enable enhancing the healthcare system across the country.

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