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Bhavdeep Singh | CEO | Fortis | Insights Care

India is poised to be one of the top three health care markets globally by 2022 as it is expected to touch US$ 372 billion sector MAKING IT one of THE fastest growing industries.  According to the Brand Equity Foundation (October, 2018), this is driven by rising incomes, lifestyle diseases, increased awareness and greater access to insurance.  This presents immense scope for the expansion of health care services in India. Since both public and private hospitals are equally responsible for the last mile delivery of healthcare services in India, they are both key players in the creation of an enabling and conducive ecosystem that provides incentives for investment in delivery infrastructure, medical education, R&D and domestic manufacturing. Accounting for almost 80% of India’s health care market, the private sector is and will likely continue to be a vibrant force with private healthcare expenditure at approximately 4.7% of the GDP and this will drive the sector’s growth.

The past year has witnessed considerable turbulence, challenges and uncertainties with negative conversations around health care providers and professionals, often with a heightened perspective on the need for stringent regulation. There was a time when the private healthcare industry could not adequately voice its concerns or advocate for greater contribution. However, some recent developments provide an opportunity for the sector to redefine its role and play a strategic part in transforming healthcare in India. We witnessed the MBBS curriculum being revised after about 20 years, steps initiated to restructure the Medical Council of India and also saw our Honorable Prime Minister launch the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana – Ayushman Bharat aimed at achieving universal health coverage. AB-PMJAY is aiming to transform the lives of nearly 50 crore most vulnerable Indians by giving them access to quality hospitalization treatment services of up to Rs 5 lakhs per family, free of cost. The scale of PMJAY is phenomenal, surpassing any other health scheme implemented by the Government of India so far. Beneficiaries do not have to pay anything for tests, medicine, meals at hospitals and treatment procedures and the entire process is paperless. This laudable, yet ambitious initiative is not likely to be a success without the active participation of private hospitals and a rational pricing model for treatments. The just-announced guidelines by the Government for setting up private hospitals in Tier 2 and 3 cities are a positive sign that the Government understands that hospital operations have to be viable. In addition, India is also set to witness the biggest healthcare service delivery partnerships ever seen so far, with Malaysia’s IHH buying more than 31% stake in Fortis Healthcare. The estimated capital infusion by IHH is expected to facilitate potential operational synergies and integrate into a large global healthcare platform. This partnership does indeed present exciting opportunities not only for one hospital group but a number of synergistic business avenues in the sector. It will set the tone for new investments coming into India and collectively re-energize and boost the sector by driving topline growth, employment opportunities, improved mechanisms and global best practices coming into India, providing world class healthcare services across specialties, with ample opportunities, especially to establish quality standards for healthcare delivery.

As an industry, the private sector has complemented the government’s efforts vis-à-vis investments in infrastructure and employment creation, especially for women. The workforce in private healthcare has more than 50% women and provides them with a safe environment, with good growth and skill enhancement opportunities. In addition, the presence of world-class hospitals and skilled medical professionals has strengthened India’s reputation as a chosen destination for international patients seeking quality care. For those seeking world-class clinical care at affordable costs, India is a health care hub, as it provides reasonable healthcare (tertiary and quaternary) facilities in compliance with international quality standards. However, popular public perception is that the over-reliance on private hospitals allows them to charge substantially more than government hospitals. There needs to be a balanced discussion on the topic because the truth is that, for any hospital operator, considerable investment goes in infrastructure, technological knowhow, quality drugs, training of clinicians and other facilities and services that require to be upgraded constantly to avoid obsolescence. Several recent surgical advancements such as robotic-aided surgeries offering higher levels of precision subsequently cost more as they need specially trained surgeons.

As a leading healthcare provider in India, patients are our most important stakeholders and customers. Therefore, it is important for us to engage with the public with the right messages and respond immediately to any concerns. We need to enhance understanding of the specializations we have, the technology we use, the infrastructure which enables us and the tireless efforts of our clinicians. We need to position ourselves as enablers in the field of healthcare and constantly showcase our evolvement and participation in the field.

We do believe that is the only way forward.

About the Author

Mr Bhavdeep Singh is the CEO of Fortis Healthcare, this being his second stint as the Chief Executive Officer of the organization.  At Fortis, Mr. Singh is driving a strong push towards bringing great patient care to every patient in every hospital, every single day.  In addition to driving patient care, the clinical team at Fortis is driving clinical excellence on multiple fronts.  At a time when the disease burden continues to grow in India, Mr Singh and the Fortis Healthcare team are taking the lead in helping India becoming a healthier nation.

Mr Singh is an acknowledged business leader and a seasoned professional, with over 20 years of experience. He has held senior executive roles in Healthcare, Human Resources and Retail.  He has worked across multiple geographies and has a strong track record of building great teams whilst delivering exceptional results.

Prior to joining Fortis, Mr Bhavdeep Singh was with Ahold, a 26 USD billion retailer with almost 800 stores. He was with the company for almost five years and served on the company’s executive board. While there, he was EVP of HR and then went on to head Ahold’s US operations and the new formats business.  In addition, prior to his initial stint at Fortis, Mr. Singh ran Reliance Retail in India and was at the helm when Reliance opened up more than 700 new stores in less than two years.

Mr Singh attended Pace University and completed several certified courses in Leadership and Executive Management from premier institutions such as the Harvard Business School, Cornell University, University of Hartford, Dial Institute of Management and St. Joe’s University in the United States.