Healthcare going Boutique Route in City
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19 May 2010
By Malathy Iyer
Smaller Units Offering Specific Treatments are Much Sought After, Not Mega Projects
The Hiranandani group, associated with plush homes, will shortly unveil a floor of suites as part of its Powai hospital’s expansion plan, while a 25–bed clinic for sleep medicine opened in Thane. The common man’s access to affordable beds will also improve when the civic corporation’s partner, Seven Hills, opens a 300–bed section of its 1,500–bed hospital in Marol, Andheri, in the next fortnight.
Apart from catering to both rich and poor patients by adding 500–odd beds in the next few months, the Mumbai hospital segment seems to be adopting two new trends. If on one hand, smaller hospitals plying niche trades–endoscopy only, infertility only or sleep only–are coming up as standalone units in various suburbs, on the other hand, there is the emergence of the ‘implant’ services: a branded unit run by well–known doctors coming up within a hospital. So, there is a Bloom IVF clinic, which is already an established name with doctors such as Hrishikesh Pai and Nandita Phalshetkar, coming up in Fortis’s Vashi hospital.
It’s a different scene from about 18 months ago, when big brand names flooded the hospital space with mega projects like the Kokilaben Ambani Hospital in Andheri or Kohinoor Hospital in Kurla. Healthcare going boutique route in city Smaller Units Offering Specific Treatments Are Much Sought After, Not Mega Projects There is an absence of grandiose plans at the moment to buttress the 20,000 beds available in the private healthcare sector in the city, but that has not fazed industry watchers.
Vishal Bali, CEO of the Fortis group of hospitals, sees this seemingly dormant stage as a transient phase.“Eighteen months back, there was a sudden spurt in hospital beds because mega projects were inaugurated. The market has since been trying to absorb this sudden spurt in beds. Till this absorption happens, we may only see expansion of existing hospitals or emergence of smaller outfits like nursing homes that are popular in Mumbai,”says Bali, calling it the cyclic phase of the Mumbai sector. But he is confident in a couple of years the mega projects will be back.
Dr Vivek Desai of HOSMAC, a healthcare consultancy firm, sees a different trend. He holds that the need for huge capital for projects in big cities has made investors and doctors wary, resulting in the belief that smaller hospitals are viable options.“It would seem better to set up 10 mid–size units across the country instead of one huge capital–intensive project in a big town,”he says, adding it may lead to emergence of boutique hospitals in the country.
Dr Rakesh Sinha of BEAMS Hospital in Khar concurs.“At present, we are looking for suitable land, be it north or south Mumbai, to open a second centre in Mumbai for only laparoscopic gynaecology,”he says. Three of his satellite units, of 25 beds each, will open in Indore, Bangalore and Hyderabad in the next few months.
Dr Hrushkesh Vaidya’s Horizons Hospital also has expansion plans. It opened on Sunday in Thane (W) mainly to cater to sleep disorders and critical care.“Sleep apnea is emerging as a major health problem. We have set up a 25–bedded hospital in Thane as our family is practising here for decades and plan a similar unit in Mumbai in future,”adds his father Dr Ulhas Vaidya.
All movement in the hospital sector is driven by demand, says Dr Sujit Chatterjee, CEO of Hiranandani Hospital. He believes a growing number of patients in the city want greater privacy and better service.“They understand why our hospital has spent a decent sum to instal an intercom facility that connects them to a nurse at the nursing station. They can immediately convey their symptoms instead of ringing the buzzer, cutting down on time,”he says. Apart from suites, his hospital will add 70 beds in a phased manner, beginning May 30.“We will start a cancer care centre with bone marrow transplant facility.”