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May, 16 2013

Hale & hearty wins the race

From seeking holistic healing to picking a sweet remedy via homeopathy; or going under the knife for enhancing one's beauty or choosing a perfect diet plan for a fit body India's healthcare sector is once again riding high on success as investors' choices

INDIA’S healthcare sector is all hale and hearty as it's been growing by leaps and bounds considering people's rising consciousness in terms of going for regular health check-ups. It's regarded as the service-oriented and recession free business where consumer footfalls are never going to slow down. The healthcare sector is further segregated into segments such as diagnostics and pathology labs, pharmacy, specialty clinics that cater to eye care, dental care, maternity clinics, trichology centres, skin and cosmetic surgery, ayurvedic labs and homeopathic clinics. So what factors have given rise to the industry? The various factors that have stimulated healthcare sector's growth are: people's intensifying consciousness towards going for frequent diagnosis, middle class is no more price sensitive, rise in health insurance, media hype, emergence of alternative therapy concepts, sedentary lifestyle, escalating demand for specialised and quality healthcare facilities and medical tourism.

The healthcare sector offers a horde of business opportunities to doctors, pathologists, trichologists, dentists, dieticians, pharmacists, dermatologists, physiotherapists or likeminded individuals/ wannabe franchisees who also wish to run their chain of diagnostic centres or specialty clinics catering to niche segments.  And for a robust brand building strategy, the industry's big-shots are relying on a business model of franchising for further exploring the opportunity in the virgin markets.  Take a look below at the list of various sub-sectors that are aggressively evolving in India's healthcare sector.

Diagnostics & pathology labs:

Diagnosing for profitable results

Consumer preference for availing diagnostic services from a specialised laboratory that gives a detailed cum accurate analysis of a disease has turned into a fad as doctors/hospitals/clinics rely on reports provided by organised diagnostic labs. India's healthcare sector is in the pink of health as the diagnostic industry has been successful in taking a quick leap with organised/certified labs providing exact detection of diseases at an early stage. Currently, Dr Lal PathLabs, Metropolis Healthcare Limited, Thyrocare Technologies, SRL Ranbaxy, Health Square, Lab O Heal, a concept started by Accuster Technologies, Xcyton Diagnostics Private Limited and Life Care India are leading India's ever-growing healthcare needs. The mobile lab concept called 'Lab O Heal' was started by Accuster Technologies, an initiative of Amit Bhatnagar.

Ayurveda:

It's all about holistic healing

Ayurveda has been in India since ages. It's been recognised as the oldest healthcare system. As the demand for natural therapies grows, the trend is rapidly catching up in India. In this stream, Vishwamangal Ayurved, Ayurvita, Baidyanath Life Sciences and Sane Care are on their way to creating a robust position in the market. Talking about promoting ayurveda through franchise model across the country, Dr Maitri Agarwal of Ayurvita, says: “With our company's corporate office located in Mumbai, it's very difficult to open company clinics everywhere else and run them smoothly. So we have come up with a franchise model, where locals (health and non-health professionals) from different places, who want to cater to health-related needs of the society, can associate with Ayurvita. We also deliver skilled doctors to franchisees so as to ensure uniformity and trustworthy services to consumers.” Vishwamangal Ayurved is now offering franchise opportunity to all investors and enthusiastic entrepreneurs by offering standardised treatment protocols with standardised medicines, quality assurance, SMS alerts to patients, on call consulting, online appointments, and offering EMI facility for all the treatments.

Homeopathy:

Set to create sweet success

India's homeopathy market is currently worth Rs 2,758 crore and is expected to reach Rs 5,873 crore by 2017. Facts suggest that it is growing annually at a rate of 30 per cent. Till now, India's homeopathic market was completely lying in a dormant zone. After ayurveda and allopathy, homeopathy is reckoned as the third most accepted means of treatment in India.  In this segment, Dr Batra’s Positive Health clinics have added a new dimension to the homeopathy industry by providing credibility and status to the science of homeopathy.  Talking about the opportunity their brand offers, Dr Akshay Batra, Managing Director at Dr Batra's Group of Companies, says: “For us, franchising opportunity can be seen as a scalable model with no boundaries. There will be no restrictions and sky is the limit. We are looking forward to amalgamating all practicing homeopaths and provide them with our platform, our expertise and share the learning from 7 lakh-plus cases treated over 30 years which will all be available for them at a click of the mouse. Also, we are looking at aspiring investor-operators who are keen to work with us in building the brand in their respective markets.”

Anti-Obesity/weight-loss:

Wait is over

The market of obesity has been growing phenomenally as people are becoming more conscious of their health. Therefore, they are taking steps to join slimming centres or going for diet plans to shed extra flab. Presently, VLCC Slimming centres, Dr Rukadikar's Specialty Clinic for Weight Loss and Diet Mantra are offering opportunities galore. Talking about the opportunity they will be offering, Dr Kiran Rukadikar, says: “Dr Rukadikar's Speciality Clinic for weight loss is offering franchise opportunity to young dynamic doctors (preferably female). They will be starting their clinic as weight loss physician (or bariatric physician) under our brand name. Dr Rukadikar's Speciality Clinic for weight loss offers strong customer-centric solutions coupled with an immaculate business module which make it an undeniable success in the world of slimming and weight loss solutions.” Talking about the lucrative opportunity, Aditi Srivastava, Director, Diet Mantra, says: “We are in a very niche field where there is almost zero competition from organised players. Here lies a big opportunity to be a pioneer in the field with a first mover advantage.” She also believes in the notion of “One happy customer leads to 10 more customers”. Same is applicable for franchise operations as well, and one happy franchisee will ensure more franchisees joining hands for the expansion.”

Cosmetic surgery

Set to revive one's beauty

Are you looking for a face-lift, nose job or tummy tuck? Nowadays, the cosmetic and aesthetic surgery industry is becoming quite a rage among people in India. Being a result-driven sector, cosmetic surgery is now bound to grow as it has completely altered people's viewpoint. Gone are the days when cosmetic or aesthetic surgery was restricted to the celebrities and the affluent class. But people are becoming more aware of enhancing their looks and the growing capacity of middle class in terms of splurging on cosmetic surgeries are further giving a new shape to the industry. As of today, brands like New Look Skin Laser Company, The Lipo Clinic & Spa, Dr Rekhas Skin & Slim Centre, Kaya Skin Clinic and VLCC are leading the industry.

New strategy

For tapping franchisees, Vishalmangal Ayurved is offering special discounts in franchise fee and training fee for the early bird franchisees. On this aspect, Dr Snehalkumar Rahane, MD & CEO, Vishwamangal Ayurved, says: “As we are newly spreading our brand, we understand that people are more conscious of our services, and further relations; that's why we are moving a step ahead in making their financial load a bit lighter.” Dr Rukadikar's Specialty Clinic for Weight Loss plans to have brand ambassadors in every city that would work for tapping franchisees and in turn help in brand building.

Challenges

Even as the healthcare industry has strong potential to grow, it has its own set of hurdles depending on the sub-categories that fall under its umbrella. Dr Batra's believes that the degree of difficulty depends on brand equity. Dr Akshay Batra, says: “One of the biggest challenges is to find the right business partner who will do justice to the brand. To overcome this challenge, we have put in place a strong evaluation process which helps us to screen prospective partners.”

It's expected that India's healthcare sector will revitalise itself with the launch of new concepts. The industry is willing to consolidate its offerings by going for private equity investments or diversifying into new segments owing to shift in people's preferences and discretionary spending power.

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