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Initiating a Surgical Change
On a quiet, leafy lane off Pune’s Law College Road sits Beck House, the three-storey building that once housed the registered office of specialty chemicals-maker Elantas Beck India. But the interior has undergone a sea change.
Instead of the fixtures and furnishings typical of a corporate set-up are hospital beds, radiological equipment, operation theatres and all the equipment that clearly make it a place that can deliver healthcare. A signboard declaring ‘Prime Surgical Centers’ does away with any need to speculate.
This, one learns, is the first of a proposed chain of centres dedicated to surgery that CEO Amar Pradhan and a group of investors hope to establish across Indian cities.
For the engineer, who acquired an MBA in finance from the University of Rochester, and then spent nearly two decades on Wall Street as a healthcare investment banker, the Pune centre is the “proof of concept” – mainly that standards for healthcare can be set. And that the model can be readily replicated in other cities and towns.
“The idea is to take out specific products (surgery, cardiac care, ophthalmology amongst others) that currently reside in bigger hospitals so patients get better care,” Pradhan says, adding that in developed countries, the trend has existed for over 30 years.
Nearly 70 per cent of surgical patients don’t need to be in hospitals, he maintains, pointing out that in the days of yore, nursing homes served this need, but inability to make high investments to keep up with technological advances has now rendered them obsolete.
“Our focus on surgery enables us to offer technologically advanced surgical techniques which yield superior results,” he says. The chances of cross infections are also much lower, he adds.
In addition to its equipment, the focus area will be the “software” of healthcare. the reference is to nursing services that can make all the difference for faster convalescence. “Our ambition is to create standards in an environment where these standards don’t exist, and deliver upon them,” he says. Prime has partnered with an American hospital (he cannot divulge the name as he does not have their permission) that shared its manuals and provided help on all that should go into developing a typical surgical centre.
These will be “Indianised” by their internal team, Pradhan reveals, to create a standardised software model that will work in this market.
The Pune centre has 18 beds and offers surgical services in spine, urology, arthroscopy, sports medicine and GI and general surgery.
The plan is to scale it up to a 40-bed facility, and add more specialties such as gynecology, ophthalmology and ENT along the way.
Prime has tied up with Apollo Hospitals for the dispensary and Metropolis for diagnostic support. The current target group is the middle class, and Pradhan asserts that the cost of surgical procedure here is comparable to that in a multi-specialty hospital, the hi-tech operation theatres and the overall squeaky clean hygiene notwithstanding.
In the 5-7 years ahead, he wants to see 20 such surgery-only centres across – first in Maharashtra – the country, and expects to invest about Rs 300 crore for the entire project.
While the finance for the pilot project has come through equity, including a small part as FDI, from family and friends, the long-term plan is to go for some debt as well.
Asked about the payback for such an enterprise, Pradhan puts it matter-of-factly: “Healthcare facilities in general have high payback periods. That is the nature of the business, and anyone who decides to do healthcare has to be comfortable with that,” he says. Their focus is not on payback as much as on other matrix of profitability, he says, confident that if they get the right mix, it will show up in revenue ramp, EBITDA ramp and on how quickly the enterprise can break even.
The underlying sentiment is that Prime (the team includes medical specialists) is small, and hence, nimble enough to make large decisions quickly, and capable of building practices in a manner that are transferable for the larger benefit of society.
- Courtsey, The Akhila Kshirsagar - The Hindu Business Line
- To know more about Our Director, Mr. Amar Pradhan Click Here
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