Mid-size hospitals mushroom in Mumbai

Written By Unknown on Senin, 28 Januari 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Mega-hospitals with hundreds of beds and as many parking slots are not the only ones growing in popularity and revenues. Now, mid-sized entities-or mini-hospitals with 70 to 100 beds each-are mushrooming across the city's suburbs and satellite towns. The reason for their popularity, say experts, is that they are more often than not conveniently located within neighbourhoods.

From eye care to laparoscopic surgery to orthopedic procedures, these smaller hospitals offer families the option to seek healthcare right next-door. Given the exorbitant real estate prices, it is easier to set up a 70-bed hospital in a suburb that is otherwise short on healthcare options. So, there is an Advanced Eye Hospital and Vasan Eye Care in Vashi, Nova Surgery Centres in Chembur, Platinum Hospital in Mulund and Vasai, and Bethany Hospital in Thane.

"Around 70% of the healthcare needs in the country are attended to by the secondary healthcare system. There is, hence, a lot of activity in this segment across the country," said Dr Vivek Desai of HOSMAC, a healthcare management consultancy. Healthcare providers can be divided into three sections-primary healthcare centres (which are essentially doctor-based clinics), secondary centres that offer care and operations (like a nursing home or small hospitals) and tertiary healthcare centres (which give high-end special surgeries and intensive care). "The last segment, or mega hospitals, account for only 30% of the healthcare volume," said Desai.

Today, it is possible for some procedures to be done in a day or on short-stay basis. "People save on money and hospitals get to do more procedures, getting better volumes," said the doctor.

Experts say health insurance is one of the reasons for the proliferation of mini- hospitals. Heart surgeon Bijoy Kutty, who set up Platinum Hospitals in Mulund and Vasai, said, "The majority of people who have medical insurance have a cover of barely Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh. They don't want to go to public hospitals, but cannot afford a five-star hospital either."

His target is this section, which is looking for affordable healthcare. "The lower to middle classes are a big pool and they prefer private healthcare," he said, adding that he is adding 30 beds to his Mulund hospital to meet the demand.

The other major contributor to this trend is the disappearing nursing homes in Mumbai. Dr Amit Thadani, who shut down his nursing home in Chembur and set up the 100-bed Nirmaya Hospital in Kharghar, said, "Nursing homes are no longer sought after due to the popularity of insurance. People want to go to hospitals that are generally better equipped than nursing homes."

Dr Sunil Vaze, who is the president of the Bombay Nursing Home Association, confirmed that many nursing homes are either winding up or on the way to closure. "It is difficult to sustain nursing homes, both in terms of infrastructure and staff," said the 61-year-old owner of Vaze Nursing Home, near Hindmata. It was set up in 1937. "Nursing homes are bound to shut down as people with insurance prefer to go to hospitals. Also, doctors running nursing homes no longer want to take any risk and fear they will have to pay a heavy price if something goes wrong," added Vaze, alluding to attacks on hospitals.

Bed & Care

* Mid-size is in; 70- to 100-bed hospitals proliferate

* Their top USP: Affordable healthcare

* USP no 2: They are located within neighbourhoods, unlike super-specialty hospitals which are concentrated mainly in south Mumbai

* Flipside: They seem to be replacing nursing homes that were once the mainstay of Mumbai's health-line

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