There's a time for everything. For Dr Ramakanta Panda, it was time to build a 'modern hospital' in India. As a cardiac surgeon from the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, US, he was known for his super-safe hands. But his ideas proved too radical for the design team. Whoever heard of picture windows to ward off ICU psychosis? Or counselling areas for patients' relatives? How would cafeteria, convenience store, library, public booth, Internet access, and hotel-like front desk create a "healing experience"? As modernity clashed with convention, Panda whisked the team off to the US to show at first hand what modern hospitals look like. Awed by his passion and armed with 5,000 photographs, they returned to translate his dream into concrete: the Asian Heart Institute (AHI) in Mumbai. Seven years later, Panda, known today as "the prime minister's surgeon", is busy planning yet another AHI. "A modern hospital focuses entirely on patient satisfaction," he says. "India didn't have that culture then. But it's quite standard now," he smiles. Indeed it is.
BLEEDING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY, WONDER DRUGS AND STAR FACILITIES ARE THE HOSPITAL MANTRA NOW A massive boom in private hospitals is changing the nation's health delivery landscape beyond recognition. New hospitals are mushrooming, even in smaller towns, and leading healthcare entrepreneurs with deep pockets are expanding their empires, often overseas. The scent of big money is in the air. It's capturing the dreams of young entrepreneurs. It's making seasoned business leaders look for an edge in marketing healthcare in a new avatar. It's giving doctors the choice and option of moving from green to greener pastures. At the root is the new-age patient who wants the best treatment money can buy. Bleeding-edge technology, wonder drugs and star facilities are now the hospital mantra. Healthcare systems are usually large, complex and slow to respond to change. But the surge of new ideas, approaches and institutions is melting away the age-old barriers to change. India is writing a new chapter of growth. "Have a chat with hospital CEOs and you'll notice that they increasingly talk about the great Indian growth story and how that translates into robust growth for the healthcare industry in India," says Seema Chaturvedi, MD of Accelerator Group, a strategic advisory that has just brought out a hospital CEO survey. She is not surprised. The healthcare market is on an unprecedented high at 16 per cent year on year. From Rs 1,02,600 crore in 2005, it now clocks Rs 2,00,000 crore and is projected to reach Rs 3,00,000 crore by 2012. The industry employs over four million people, making it one of the largest service industries in the economy, reports a new study by ASSOCHAM and Yes Bank (Healthcare Services in India, 2009). Infrastructure spend is on a staggering growth clip, doubling in size and slated to reach Rs 63,900 crore in 2013 (KPMG, 2009). The private sector, up from Rs 85,500 crore in 2006 to Rs 1, 48,050 crore now, accounts for 80 per cent of the market--highest in the world. It also controls 60 per cent of the 15,393 hospitals in India, with cashrich corporates holding 10 per cent of the pie. In the metros, quality hospital beds are blooming, almost at par with the global benchmark of 35 beds per 10,000 people, if you have the money to pay your bill.
Source: Healthcare Services in India: 2012, the path ahead. ASSOCHAM-YES Bank, 2009; McKinsey 2007 Big is Better
Despite the meltdown, it's a world full of hectic buzz. Giant new projects are rolling off the line--be it pioneering cardiologist and healthcare entrepreneur Dr Naresh Trehan's Rs 1,000-crore Medanta Medicity in Gurgaon, the 1,500-bed ("Asia's largest hospital") Mumbai's SevenHills, Apollo's 200-acre wellness hub in Lavasa or the technology paradise that is Kokila Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai. What's more? About 15 hospital projects are slated to open this year and 90 per cent...