Case on Aravind Eye Care

Topics: Surgery, Ophthalmology, Cataract Pages: 7 (2404 words) Published: February 1, 2013
Your task is to present organizations assigned to your group, discuss them from the perspective of topics addressed in the Frugal Innovation report, and to discuss what, if anything, can be transferred and used in the developed countries. Alternatively, you may brainstorm about the possibilities how some business from the developed countries could work with and help these organizations.

About 40 million people in the world are blind and India is home to 1/3 of the world’s blind population. Yet, for many of these cases, it is preventable and treatable. In developing countries, the leading cause of blindness is attributed to cataracts, in which the natural lens of the eye clouds over time. This requires surgical removal and replacement with an artificial one. In 2006 alone, India had nearly 7 million cataract-blind individuals, with roughly 3.8 million new cases occuring every year. However, with 25% of Indians considered below the poverty line and with much larger numbers at income levels that would place such treatments for blindness out of their reach.

Many of these afflicted live in the rural areas and are mostly farmers... to rob one of sight usually meant robbing them of their livelihood and their ability to provide.

Yet, in the past decades, the country’s capacity to perform such eye surgeries have grown four-fold from 1.2 million in 1991 to 5 million a year in 2006. Much of this is credited to the efforts of a Doctor Govindappa Ventakaswamy (Or Dr. V) and the hospital he founded, Aravind Eye Hospital.

The surgeons at Aravind are world class, among the most productive in the world, doing as much as 13 times the amount of eye surgeries than their counterparts in the United States and yet having fewer complication rates than health systems in developed countries. But what is truly astonishing about Aravind is that nearly half of the procedures it conducts every year are practically free. For many years, India’s Aravind Eye Care System has restored the sight of millions, even those who cannot afford it. The question is how they manage such a seemingly impossible feat.

About Aravind Eye Care
1976 Madurai, when Dr V. who had turned 58, had to retire from public service, he still wanted to carry on his mission of eradicating “preventable” blindness in India. Mortgaging his house and selling his family’s possessions, he started a humble 11-bed eye clinic in the living room of his house and recruited his extended family in joining his mission. Today, with over 3,500 beds in 5 hospitals across Tamilnadu, it is one of the largest eye care systems in the world. The Aravind eye hospital has since expanded to become Aravind Eye Care System, which includes treatment facilities, training schools, research centers and even production facilities. All of which have been self-sustaining with 75% profit margins. All the while treating both paying and non-paying patients alike with such high service levels.

The question was how was it even possible to do such surgeries for free and yet still make a profit. Innovative Approaches
High Quality, Low Cost (Economies of Scale)
The innovation challenge here is significant – how would one carry out a high quality process of eye surgery at low cost?

Dr V. searched for inspiration in other fields where the same challenge of carrying out activities systematically, reproducibly and to a high quality standard – but at low cost –and found inspiration from the global fast food chain of McDonalds. What fascinated him was how McDonald’s could train people all over the world to produce a product that was delivered the same way and have the meals offered at a low cost. He wanted to deliver a mechanism of delivery of eyecare with the efficiency of McDonalds. And so this assembly line production system formed the basis for his quest to eradicate blindness.

Finding a Niche Market
Cataracts were the leading cause of preventable blindness in India, with numbers...
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