July 2008

NEWS REVIEW – BUSINESS

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HealthSprint eyes 100-fold growth in users

Healthcare IT services company HealthSprint plans to expand its reach a 100-fold in 2 years to 5 lakh patients a month and take ehealth services to rural areas in tie-ups with microinsurance providers.

By then, it expects to be connected through its internet portal to 1,000 hospitals, 2,000 pharmacies and 2,500 diagnostic centres, co-founder of HealthSprint.

It currently has tie-ups with about 159 hospitals, including Manipal Group of Hospitals, the Wockhardt Group and St. Johns Medical College Hospital. Through its portal, HealthSprint provides services such as exchange of healthcare data, including health insurance procedures, searches for specialist, scheduling appointments with doctors, securing medical reports and getting prescriptions online directly from hospitals. It also helps connect customers with labs and pharmacies in the neighbourhood.

The company’s e-health services for rural areas will be launched in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh by connecting rural hospitals to those in metropolitan cities and rural customers with microinsurance companies. It is in the process of tying up SKS Microfinance and the Sewa women’s co-operative federation in Gujarat for the venture.

HealthSprint also has a tie-up with Yos Technologies to collaborate for creation and maintenance of personal health records.

MedPlus unveils diagnostics plans

Pharmacy chain Medplus Health Services has opened its first five regional diagnostic centres already and has plans for 50 more by the end of the fiscal as it diversifies into the lucrative market for diagnostic services.

The regional dia gnostic centres for routine tests will first be launched in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. A total of INR 20 crore will be invested to set up the 50 centres.

MedPlus Pathlabs, a fully-owned subsidiary of MedPlus Health Services, has been operating a clinical reference laboratory for complex clinical tests for the past 8 months.

Being part of the organised segment, it would attempt to bring standardisation to the market for clinical testing services, he observed. “There are 40,000 diagnostic labs in the country, mostly individually run, which accounts for the high degree of inconsistency in the services.” The chain plans to add 600 outlets by March 2009, with 70% of these as franchises.

MedPlus claims to have a 30% share of the organised pharmaceutical retail market, with a turnover of INR 100 crore in the last fiscal. It is aiming for leadership in diagnostic services with a 40%-50% market share.

India to earn INR 8000 cr through medical tourism

Easy access to visa facilities permitted by India to overseas patients coupled with the best emerging medical infrastructure in large and tertiary towns will make the country earn to an extent of INR 8,000 crore in foreign exchange by 2012, a new study has said. Currently, the earnings accrued through medical tourism annually are estimated at INR 3,500 crore. A comparison of the medical treatment costs of various countries shows that a procedure like bone marrow transplant costs US$ 2,00,000 in USA, upto US$ 2,00,000 in UK, US$ 62,500 in Thailand and just around USD 20,000 in India. Similarly, a by-pass surgery would cost US$ 15,000-20,000 in USA, around US$ 20,000 in UK, US$ 14,250 in Thailand and US$ 4,000-6,000 in India.

As a result of higher and very expensive medical costs in the western countries, patients from economies of scale including Africa, Gulf and various Asian countries have started exploring medical treatment in hospitals located in various well-to do places in India, Director of Ganga Ram Hospital and one of the lead authors of the study said.

GE Healthcare IT extends collaboration with HP

GE Healthcare IT, a division of General Electric Company, has announced an extended collaboration with HP to offer pre-configured, pre-installed GE Centricity� Enterprise software on HP Integrity NonStop servers. The collaboration will target midsize hospitals and developing countries with lower cost and faster deployment of GE’s clinical workflow solution, Centricity Enterprise.

GE Healthcare IT is currently collaborating with HP to pilot a low-cost solution for new hospitals in the Gulf region and expects to begin marketing this globally in the second half of 2008. A wide range of offerings is expected through this expanded effort.

For over 20 years, the two companies have optimised GE Centricity Enterprise Software and HP Integrity NonStop servers for the world’s leading healthcare providers, ensuring higher efficiency and 99.9999% reliability, a critical component for physicians and nurses in a variety of healthcare scenarios.

Further delivering on its commitment to offer customised solutions and faster deployment, GE also announced HP is an early member of the GE Centricity Enterprise Certification Network. As a tactic to meet the growing demand for deployment and customisation, GE will train, certify and support leading systems integrators of the Centricity Enterprise suite.

Starting in the fourth quarter of 2008, GE will begin offering training and an associated certification that will provide its partners with the deep knowledge to adapt Centricity Enterprise software. GE will expand the program to include dozens of partners within the next three years. Training classes and certification exams initially will be held at GE’s Enterprise Solutions offices in Seattle and will be available regionally beginning in late 2009.

GE moves US$ 17 bn healthcare business to Turkey

In what analysts see as a major vote of confidence for the Turkish economy, General Electric (GE) has decided to move all managing operations in the eastern and African growth markets (EAGM) to Istanbul.

Officials from GE Healthcare and Turkey’s Investment Support & Promotion Agency said at a joint press conference on Friday that GE Healthcare, a US$ 17 billion healthcare business, has decided to combine the EAGM region into a single “International Diagnostic Imaging” operation and conduct its activities from Istanbul. The company will split a major part of its operations from its London center and move it to Istanbul. The company’s Western European operations will still handled by the London center.

With this new move, GE Healthcare will coordinate all its operations in 80 countries in four major regions – Central Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Africa — from its Istanbul center. Richard di Benedetto, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, International-EAGM will be overseeing the company’s operations. The EAGM region accounted for more than US$ 600 million in revenue in 2007 and is expected to double the figure to US$ 1.2 billion by 2010 thanks to the new structuring. Currently, a total of 19,217 companies with international capital operate in Turkey, with half of them choosing Istanbul as a base. In the first three month of 2008, 754 companies and branch offices with international capital were established, while 155 international companies bought shares in domestic companies.

Indian Govt allows service sector up to US$ 100 mn external borrowing

The government has revealed its decision to ease its external commercial borrowing (ECB) norm, enabling firms in the service sector – hospitals, hotels and software companies – to borrow up to US$ 100 million for import of capital goods.

The decision comes as a big solace to the borrowers in service sector, who are not currently eligible to avail ECB under the automatic route.

“It has been decided that henceforth borrowers in services sector, viz hotels, hospitals and software companies may avail ECB up to US$ 100 million for import of capital goods under the approval route,” said an official communiqu� issued Saturday.

“The amendment in ECB policy will come into force on the date of notification of regulations or directions issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in this regard under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999,” the statement said.

The government reviews its ECB policy regularly in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India to keep it in tune with the evolving macro-economic situation, changing market conditions, sectoral requirements, the external sector and its experience. On 28 May, the government had amended the ECB policy to enable borrowers in infrastructure sector to avail ECB up to US$ 100 million for rupee expenditure for permissible end-uses under the approval route.

Wipro, Cognizant among largest healthcare IT providers in US

Nasdaq-listed Cognizant Technology Solutions, which has major operations in India, and Bangalore-based Wipro Technologies has been ranked among the 100 largest healthcare IT providers in the US.

The list compiled by US-based healthcare informatics magazine has been topped by Mckesson. It also features Cbay systems and services inc, which also has substantial presence in the country. According to the list, Cognizant Technology and Wipro HLS, which is part of Wipro Group has been ranked as the 11th and 23rd places, respectively. Cbay systems is placed at the 84th position.
The rankings of the companies are based on revenue from the healthcare segment.

“This ranking is a testament to the trust reposed in US by our clients. In the highly complex healthcare industry, firms are continuously looking for innovative solutions to meet their business challenges,” Cognizant Senior Vice President & General Manager Krish Venkat said in a statement. “We are privileged to leverage our consultative, industry -specific solutions to help our clients drive process improvements, spearhead innovation and provide their customers with the best healthcare experience,” he added.

Cognizant which offers systems integration, business processes and it infrastructures, and testing solutions for pharmaceuticals, healthcare plans among others, employs over 55,000 employees. Wipro HLs, which has an employee strength of about 88,000, provides IT services in the areas of consulting, application development and maintenance, IT infrastructure and business process outsourcing.

Medical transcription sector yet to tap global market

India’s medical transcription industry may be showing a healthy growth trend, but it has only tapped a fraction of the global opportunity, say industry players. According to them, the industry players. According to them, the industry has emerged out of the turbulance. “The market for medical transcription is worth anywhere between US$ 6 – 15 billion per year in the US alone, and Indian companies’ penetration in the market is perceived to be barely 10%,” says Somerset CEO Ashish Vachhani.

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