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Specialty hospitals can help bridge demand-supply gap in healthcare

Speciality hospital chains can bridge the demand-supply gap in healthcare, Vishal Bali, Executive Chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings (AHH), said at the Mint Healthcare Summit 2023 in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The former Fortis Healthcare chief executive said speciality hospital chains could lure investors on the basis of faster infrastructure creation, clinical distinction, accessibility, and meet new consumer demands in the healthcare space.

Bali said AHH’s business grew on the back of investments in single specialities such as oncology, gynaecology, pediatrics, reproductive medicine ( IVF ) and the most recent addition of Urology and Nephrology. In the Neonatology space we saw the opportunity to address newborn mortality through the creation of a large network of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit beds across the country. To step up wider coverage and meet the demand supply gap in underserved regions we used last mile remote technology to create a network of ENICU beds backed by our neonatology clinical expertise to underserved regions.

Vertical healthcare systems have to constantly evolve and innovate to offer new solutions in their chosen clinical specialties”

“When we invested in Motherhood in FY17, it was just three hospitals, We are in FY 24 and Motherhood Hospitals is poised to grow to 30 hospitals,” said Bali

Bali said the health-tech sector will scale over time as consumer faith and loyalty builds up, online pharmacies have taken almost a decade of consistent consumer engagement to create the current footfalls, other health tech verticals will take time to create the same degree of consumer demand. Healthcare services have multiple factors on which consumer demand is built most importantly around clinical orientation and appreciation.

On the scope for made-in-India medical devices, Bali said India has to build its expertise around precision engineering in the medical tech space where Indian medical technology companies can compete with their global peers. Our Medtech companies have to put exponential R&D efforts and capital to create world class technology in radio imaging. He said this venture needed a lot more momentum and should be a priority.

The AHH executive said artificial intelligence (AI) was a “key driver for efficiency creation in healthcare”, adding that technology adoption has traditionally been slow and low in the healthcare sector, new age solutions like AI have immediate use case to improve productivity in areas like routine and complex Radiology imaging, Radiotherapy treatment planning, Embryo gradation in IVF and a host of others he said.

Bali said there was a “reverse migration” of talent from tier-1 cities to tier-2 and tier-3 towns, fuelled by technology availability, modern hospital infrastructure and improvement of other social parameters like primary and secondary school education. Clinicians are open to migrating to tier-2 cities from metros because “they also see potential opportunities to become leading consultants in those cities rather than a number eight or a number ten in a large metro,” he added.

Hospitals would be equally profitable in tier-2 cities as compared to metros on the back of lower capex/bed and lower opex cost of execution, although lower opex cost advantage may not continue to be a huge differential since overall fixed costs are increasing exponentially in tier 2 cities Bali said. LiveMint

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