Eyeing Opportunities beyond Metros… : Dr. Pradeep Bhardwaj, Ojjus Medicare Group

Ojjus Medicare Group has recently unveiled plans to open five hospitals and two medical colleges across non-metros cities like Noida, Faridabad, Jaipur, Bhopal and Ranchi. The group presently has the 220-bed multi super-speciality hospital in Noida, and an upcoming 300-bed oncology and 200-bed rehabilitation centre in Faridabad with post treatment co-ordination and follow-up centres across the country.

In an interview with Dr. Pradeep Bhardwaj, COO, Ojjus Medicare Group, talks about the ambitious plans of Ojjus Medicare and about the growth of healthcare administration in India.

Q. You have been awarded as the ‘Youngest Medical Superintendent’ in India, and recently you were selected for the prestigious ‘Rashtriya Rattan Awards 2009’. In retrospect, what were the important milestones in your career which helped you in achieving your goals?

A. I consider this prestigious award a token of my hard work. For the first time this award has been given in the area of healthcare management, so I hope it will give a fresh impetus to the profession of hospital administration and management in India.

I started working towards my goals when I joined the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in 2001 and later moved on to Fortis Healthcare and Sir Gangaram Hospital, Delhi.  My zeal towards work keeps me going and motivates me  to do complete justice to my work. I always try to do things which are often overlooked by others and to an extent it reflects in all the work I do. One of my aims is to raise the profession of hospital administration and management to a status it’s worthy of and to change the role of healthcare administration in India. For that to happen it’s important to change the doctor-centric model of Indian healthcare management industry. Today, a great number of hospitals in USA and almost all the hospitals in UK are headed by the non-medicos trained in hospital administration. In practice, it was found that a non-medico brought more success to a hospital, as he has a better business acumen than a doctor.

Q. What are your future plans for your hospital?

A. Ojjus Medicare has spread itself far and wide in the country. Ojjus Medicare’s comprehensive 700-bed Oncology Centre is coming up in a sprawling 9 acre plot in Faridabad, which has been designed to cater to the needs of the domestic as well as international patients. We are renovating the Goodwill Hospital and Research Centre Ltd., Noida, comprehensively by adding 220 new beds. Ojjus Medicare is upgradating the overall facilities at its Noida facility. The expansion plans for the Noida Hospital include upgradation of investigation facilities by installation of an MRI 1.5 Tesla system and replacement of spiral CT with the state-of-the-art 64 slices CT, establishment of super-specialty cardiac and neurosurgery departments having dedicated modular surgeries for complex cardiac and neurosurgical procedures, increase in ICU bed strength to 30 beds, and a fully equipped world-class CCU.

Ojjus Medicare is coming up with 3 more hospitals in Jaipur, Bhopal & Ranchi apart from Noida and Faridabad, and 2 medical colleges at Jaipur and Bhopal. Rachi will have 150 beds and Jaipur and Bhopal each 850 beds. The reason why we are coming up only in second tier cities is that the quality healthcare in these cities is lacking. And, there is an urgent need to cater to such cities so that people don’t have to travel to metropolitan cities for medical treatment. All our hospitals would be super-specialty hospitals, as at the present there are already many multi-specialty hospitals. For instance, Noida has lots of multi-specialty hospitals, but not a single super-specialty hospital for neurology or cardiology. And, looking at the increasing shortage of healthcare professionals we have decided to come up with two medical colleges too, because we strongly believe that in the coming years only hospitals with their own medical colleges will be able to survive. At the Noida facility, Paramedical courses affiliated by Noida Medical Council have already started.

Q. Which areas/specialties of healthcare hold the maximum growth potential and supply gap at present? How does Ojjus group aspire to cater to such segments?

A. The major growth areas are Oncology, Neurology, Cardiac, Rehabilitation (Physical and Occupational) of people affected by drugs/polio/accidents in industry/agriculture sector and chest diseases.

To cater to international patients we are thinking of adding facilities like IVF, plastic and reconstructive surgeries, life-style related problems and joint replacements etc. Presently, we are helping the Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon, in medical tourism by referring our international patients to them and also with our service apartments in Gurgaon. We are also planning to come up with service apartments for our  Noida facility.

Q. How important is IT and automation technologies for delivering high quality healthcare and bringing cost efficiencies? What are your plans in terms of adoption and investment  in IT  of Ojjus hospital?
A. Healthcare systems are extremely complex. They operate in a mixed environment of public and private services that make the design, implementation and operation of integrated healthcare systems both difficult and expensive. Patients have to deal with several departments that have no commonality in the way they work. Every department operates in a different fashion – controlling information flow and its access. Various stake holders who have their own methods e.g.-service recipient and provider, materials/service providers, finance providers, hospital (and Health) managements, Databases etc. can come together on a single platform provided by automation technologies/IT leading which would save money, increase efficiency and  customer satisfaction by better quality control.

Ojjus Medicare has decided to fully automate its Noida facility and all the four hospitals coming up in Faridabad, Jaipur, Bhopal and Ranchi. Our vendor, Protech IT Solutions, is given charge to digitize all our five hospitals. We have already placed an order of Rs. 1.4 million for the Noida facility.

Q. In the present economic environment, what are some of the biggest challenges for Indian healthcare industry? What is your wish-list from the government to make this sector more vibrant
and viable?

A. The healthcare industry has become highly competitive with increased awareness, quality consciousness among public, and compulsions of the trade. Further, the rapid advances in the technology dictates continuous upgradation of the services, facilities and the infrastructure. In the coming years medical insurance will be indispensable rather than just a need. Majority of our population lives in rural India, so  the thrust must be maximum there.

In India, 80% of the healthcare expenditure is borne by the patients and 12 % by the government. The expenditure covered by insurance claims is 3%. As a result, the price sensitivity is quite high and quality healthcare facilities are out of the reach of the common man.

The government should consider higher depreciation on infrastructure; lower taxation on the hospital industry; insurance companies/TPAs be made more responsive to the problems faced by hospital; increase the budget for public healthcare for preventive measures and for upgradation of infrastructure at village/taluk/district; involve the alternative medicine practitioners at the block/taluk/district levels to make up for the shortage of allopathic doctors; to formulate council for healthcare administrators; and to formulate common reporting formats in pathology, radiology across the country. 

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