The healthcare delivery space has evolved over the past few years. However, a few challenges still persist in the sector. The issue was taken up by a group of experts during a panel discussion on the topic ‘Indian healthcare delivery: A reality check’ at the recently concluded VCCircle Healthcare Investment Forum 2014.

Looking at healthcare delivery from a funding standpoint, the last three years have been really good and there has been a lot of euphoria. Healthcare in this country seems to be a limitless opportunity for future growth. Each year during 2011-14, we have been seeing doubling of deals happening and more than $1 billion has been put into delivery over the past three years. This goes to show that there is tremendous interest on the investing side. However, it is all about how the execution is happening.

While some experts said there is a huge potential in this going ahead, others were of the opinion that there are factors like the talent pool, geography as well as the business model that still need a lot of thought.

The panel was attended by Vishal Bali, asia head - healthcare, TPG Growth; Dr Sameer Khan, CEO, Rockland Hospitals; Rohit Kapoor, senior director, Max Indian Limited; Dr Vishal Beri, CEO, Hinduja Healthcare and Siddharth Dhondiyal, director, India Value Fund Advisors.

Following are some of the observations made by the panellists:

Dr Sameer Khan, CEO, Rockland Hospitals

Over the years the definition of tier II has changed. There are opportunities but not much on the delivery side; however, there is huge opportunity in tier II towns. We have to get the model right, something which is replicable and not very large. In India there are certain specialties for which people travel and will keep on travelling. But 90 per cent of the specialties can be delivered almost everywhere. A lot of doctors are turning into entrepreneurs; I feel in the coming five years we will see doctors doing up hospitals in some way and smaller chains getting into these places and then some consolidation will happen and the larger groups will get into it.

Rohit Kapoor, Senior Director, Max Indian Limited

We need to change the way we look at healthcare. I look at healthcare opportunities with the talent that is available. We cannot look at healthcare or delivery in isolation of the quality of life Indian towns offer. Over time, players which have high quality primary and secondary centres in towns where talent is available feeding into other tertiary and quaternary facilities will become sustainable.

Dr Vishal Beri, CEO, Hinduja Healthcare

There are a few chains that are working in the hub-and-spoke model but none has really been able to make it work in a manner in which it should. So as a model it has not worked. Innovation has to come from the thought to do larger good but it is a business and it has to be commercially viable and has to make returns.

Siddharth Dhondiyal, Director, India Value Fund Advisors

Today we have a very vibrant ecosystem in place. The original game where investors were investing in tertiary care facilities has now become a very large scale game and the ticket size is very large. A lot of innovation has also been happening across healthcare. So it is a very attractive area for investors to come in. However, price points in India are just too low and quality is valued high.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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