With a number of healthcare facilities across India and different countries, BR Life has carved a niche for itself in the healthcare space, providing holistic and integrated healthcare services at patients’ doorstep. It is leaving no stone unturned to replicate the finest healthcare delivery model across the globe where people at large would be served with best care in terms of quality and affordability, says Col Hemraj Singh Parmar, Group CEO, BR Life, in conversation with Mukul Kumar Mishra of Elets News Network (ENN).
Q BR Life is known for serving people with finest healthcare services, leveraging modern technologies and innovative practices. Tell us about its mission and vision.
Dr BR Shetty is founder and chairman of NMC Healthcare which has more than 200 healthcare facilities across 25 different countries. It is the 3rd biggest healthcare group in the world, listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a FTSE 100 company with a market capitalization of close to $11 billion.
Dr BR Shetty, the founder of BR Life hails from Udupi, Karnataka. With the intent to improve healthcare delivery system and helping people get access to the finest healthcare facilities cost-effectively, he went to the UAE. The objective was to replicate the finest delivery model in India and across the globe with the founding of BR Life, a path he had already treaded with excellence.
We have a hospital in Egypt called Alexandria NMC Hospital and recently we acquired two more hospitals in Afghanistan. BR Life has envisioned expanding healthcare business pan-India. We have one hospital each in Bhubaneswar, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Udupi (PPP) and Raipur.
In addition, we have one 400 bedded multi-superspecialty hospital each under construction in Udupi (Karnataka) and Varanasi (UP). The Government had provided land for the Mother & Child Hospital in Udupi (PPP). We have come up with $2 billion Medicity project in Amravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh near Vijayawada. It would be spread over 100 acres. We have planned a medical college, nursing college, dental college, 1000+ bedded quaternary care hospital, five-star hotel, mall, school, residential areas and virtually everything that should be there in a medicity. We have acquired 25 acres of land for construction of the medical college in Kollar.
We have made bid for Seven Hills Hospitals in Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Vizag (Andhra Pradesh). The Mumbai hospital has 1500-bed capacity while Vizag facility has 300 beds. Moreover, BR Life is exploring options to establish its presence in terms of more hospitals across the globe including in Africa, Middle-East and some of the SAARC countries.
Heads of many countries globally and many Chief Ministers in India have expressed their desire to have BR Life presence in their own countries and States.
In India, we have a large number of hospitals under acquisition and construction at various stages. We wish to have 20,000 beds in the next five to ten years time and emerge as the best and the biggest healthcare services provider in the country with global presence.
MISSION AND VISION
We envision being a compassionate, ethical, innovative and affordable global healthcare services provider by exploiting cutting-edge research and medical technology to boost patient care. Our mission is to bring in holistic, accessible and integrated healthcare delivery to the doorstep of every patient. We believe in the ethos of care with compassion. In the arena of medical technology, we wish to invest in some of the most advanced medical technologies, as also are equally open to investing in some of the most innovative healthtech companies. Our objective is to bring in holistic and integrated healthcare services at patients’ doorstep.
Q Shed some light on significant aspects of your deliverables in healthcare, which distinguish BR Life from others.
If you will have a look on fourdecades of distinguished experience of our promoters in the global healthcare space, there are a large number of investors from India and outside who are willing to invest. In the light of the government’s path breaking Ayushman Bharat initiative, affordability has become one of the major factors for success. We are making significant progress on that count with innovative strategies.
We wish to have both Greenfield and Brownfield hospital projects across the country, as also PPP projects. We are planning for hospital projects in Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities and also in rural and tribal areas.
BR Life also leverages latest technology to standardise our infrastructure and protocols. We have already standardised HIS, PACS, EHR/EMR (Electronic Medical Record) and also the finance, human resource (HR) and supply chain modules. In an endeavour to have a robust healthcare delivery model, we shall be leveraging Artificial Intelligence, IoMT, 3D Printing, Big Data, telemedicine/ teleradiology, wearables and mobile technology and other modern technologies to improve outcomes and to improve access and affordability.
Q It is little tough to balance both quality and affordability at the same time. How does BR Life calibrate?
Cost is certainly an issue today, as the government has put caps on medical devices, implants and drugs. It has severely dented profit margins of healthcare services providers, though they are strategizing to deal with the same.
Healthcare service providers are forced to have a de novo look at the entire cost structure. Healthcare industry is capital intensive and lots of money is spent on acquisition of land, construction of hospitals, medical equipment & devices and medical furniture. One starts with substantial front-loaded costs. And then other cost including doctors’ fees, manpower costs, costs incurred on consumables and other administrative costs put a heavy pressure on the hospital’s profitability. Ensuring a higher asset utilization therefore is the key to optimise costs and improve profitability. Similarly, ensuring higher bed occupancies, utilization of laboratories, OTs, MRIs/ CTs and other infrastructure has to be optimized. In addition, average length of stay of patients and turnaround timings have to be optimised to ensure higher patient turnout and revenue.
We are setting up plants for manufacturing of pharmaceuticals products and dialysis machines. This backward integration would further help us reduce our dependence on expensive imports and consequently help optimise costs.
Q What are your suggestions to the Government to make people available quality and cost-efficient healthcare facilities?
One of the major issues is import duty on the drugs and medical devices which is very high. The Government needs to promote investments by making the industry more profitable. Reduction of import duties on medical devices and expensive drugs, tax holidays for investments in rural & tribal areas, promoting PPP projects and medical education are some of the key areas of focus. It will give fillip to the Make in India campaign wherein large number of medical equipment, drugs and implants could be manufactured in India itself at very affordable prices.
In addition, the Government has also imposed cap on so many items including drugs, stents and implants.
The Government of India has planned to cover approximately 100 million families under Ayushman Bharat initiative. This requires active participation of the bigger private healthcare providers to succeed. The rates for about 1350 medical procedures given by the government are extremely low and would dissuade bigger players from participating in the scheme. This anomaly needs to be corrected by coming out with more viable rates. Democratisation of healthcare education is another area that deserves urgent attention since the country has acute shortage of doctors, nurses, technicians and other allied healthcare service providers.
Q Despite many Government schemes, rural healthcare delivery has not improved substantially. What kind of initiatives have been undertaken to strengthen primary healthcare facilities?
It is the most challenging part as majority of population still resides in rural areas where healthcare access is minimal. In a way, this is also an opportunity which can be explored by healthcare providers. Our Udupi project is of a similar kind and takes healthcare delivery to the last mile absolutely free.
We have been invited by many other state governments to replicate this unique model and bid for PPP projects to improve infrastructure in rural areas. Many of the government facilities currently operating in rural areas are devoid of adequate medical facilities and are not adequately equipped and staffed with good clinical talent and infrastructure. BR Life is making a significant contribution there and is planning to scale up its operations in that space.
We are in talks with some of the companies which are currently operating in primary healthcare domain for acquisition. We wish to establish hospital and clinics, equipped with required infrastructure to take healthcare delivery to the hitherto neglected last mile. We aim to improve delivery in rural and tribal areas while scaling up operations in bigger cities. Profit making is not the sole objective of our overall healthcare endeavours in line with the philanthropic mindset of Dr BR Shetty, who has also donated significant part of his personal wealth to Bill & Melinda Gates foundation for non-infectious diseases.