Aditya Vij has been the Chief Executive Officer at Fortis Healthcare Limited since July 2011. In an interaction with our correspondent, Ekta Srivastava, he delibrates on the ample scope for automation and modernization in Indian Healthcare scenario
How do you plan to provide affordable healthcare to Indian middle class?
India is among the few countries that provides one of the lowest cost, yet highest quality of healthcare. At Fortis, our intent has been to reach out to the middle class and beyond and offer world-class capability, technology and medical treatment at affordable costs. With 66 healthcare facilities in India (including projects under development), over 10,000 potential beds and approx. 260 diagnostic centers, we have significantly expanded our reach to tap the middle class.
The mass market opportunity is a compelling business case. With a low bed to population ratio in India, the Indian demographic is more than enough to ensure volumes at hospitals. We have multiple operating models to approach the middle class segment. One is a segmented approach to healthcare delivery. Some of our hospitals cater to the premium segment, such as our flagship hospital, The Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI) that offers highly specialized medical programmes, super specialties and advanced levels of medical treatments, while some others focus on the mass market offering secondary to lower tertiary level medical programmes. We have leveraged technology to expand our reach in the mass market. For example, Critinext, our remote ICU (eICU) programmes helps to make critical care accessible and affordable to critically ill patients in remote areas of India.
A more active role by the Government investing in healthcare as an overall percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will also help expand reach to a larger section of the populace.
What are your thoughts on the rise of multi-specialty hospitals? What advantages it offers?
A multi-specialty hospital nurtures a milieu of collaboration among many physicians and different specialties under one roof. It offers advantages of housing the best clinician talent across specialties, the best technology and medical care under one roof.
Multi-specialty hospitals are superior in delivering higher medical quality and offer both depth and width in the healthcare sector by allowing hospitals to provide a continuum of care. These hospitals have come of age and are capable of delivering medical treatments at par with the best in the world. Now, Indians are not going abroad for treatment but patients from overseas are pouring in as India offers affordable and high quality healthcare. Though capital intensive, the model confers significant advantages in terms of cross referrals, attending to emergencies and offering the best clinical talent under one roof, aiding patient ease and comfort. Moreover, as a country we are plagued by several lifestyle disorders which require a multi-disciplinary care.
“Affordability will continue to increase over time as innovative lower cost solutions are offered that make pricing more competitive”
How do you visualize the progress of technology in Indian healthcare?
Technology in the last two decades has transformed the way healthcare is delivered. It has greatly aided patients and providers alike by enhancing the quality of delivery, reduction in turnaround time of workflows and thus the overall cost, besides bringing in higher accountability into the system. Advancements in medical technology are playing a positive role in saving lives, in improving diagnosis and clinical outcomes.
India is growing at a faster pace as compared to the West which has seen a slowdown. However, India has a lot of scope for automation and modernization. There is abundant scope for introducing better processes and in lowering technology costs. There will be increased investment by healthcare providers in installing best in class medical equipment, upgrading technology and seeking quality accreditation. Innovation across the value chain in service delivery will help to expand the market and take it to the next level of growth.
As a country, we need policy interventions that encourage indigenous manufacturers, and local manufacturing by MNC companies.
Most of the research in Medicine is done abroad, even after having a pool of medical experts in our country. What’s your take on that– where are we lagging?
As a country, we are yet to leverage our research potential. Our leading academic institutes, though extremely rigorous in education, do not adequately focus on research and innovation. This is a trend across fields, not just limited to medicine. However, in the last few years, there has been a growth in terms of research work in the country, though are behind our western counterparts.
What are the major challenges that a private or corporate hospital faces today in a country like India?
Despite the sprinting pace of the healthcare sector, we face many obstacles in our path towards greater growth. Some of the immediate challenges being faced by corporate hospitals include, low penetration of health insurance, lack of medical and paramedical talent; high initial-stage capital investment; and lower returns. There are also significant cost pressures (rising implant costs, medical equipment costs, wage rates, power tariffs etc), low value, and challenging payment turnaround time from the Government.
What is the USP of the Fortis Healthcare Limited?
At the core of our offering is medical excellence and we endeavor to provide the highest quality of medical care with compassion. Our patients are at the centre of what we do. In addition to the best clinical diagnosis and treatment, we also provide an envelope of facilities and services that make the hospital experience stressfree and calming. We offer thoughtful conveniences, comfort and diversions that can help lower anxiety levels and encourage healing for the patients and their families. Patient flows and medical facilities are planned in an intuitive manner so they are easy to navigate even for first time visitors.