In an exclusive interaction with Wellness India, Vishal Bali, Co-Founder and Chairman, Medwell Ventures, talks about his plans with last year acquired Nightingales Home Healthcare services and much more.
Known as the Former CEO of Fortis Healthcare Ltd, Vishal Bali, the present Co-Founder and Chairman, Medwell Ventures, has great opinions and expansion plans across 16 major cities of India to provide home healthcare services to patients. Bali believes that ageing population, shortage of hospital beds and the need for pre care and post-hospitalisation creates a strong demand for professionally driven speciality home healthcare services in India.
Medwell Ventures aims to establish a healthcare delivery network in India, focusing on various innovative forms of delivering healthcare services like home healthcare to the elderly or extremely weak patients. This strategy has not been adopted in Indian market in its truest form yet. How are you planning to achieve this tough target?
Affordability and accessibility challenge in Indian healthcare space requires innovative thinking and establishing new models of healthcare delivery. We will be the 'chronic diseases' capital of the globe and have to work on multiple fronts to create a healthier India. Home healthcare is a key pillar of the healthcare delivery ecosystem in many countries of the world and is recognised for its patient centric role.
We believe that Home Healthcare presents an enormous opportunity in the country. Medwell Ventures plans to take its speciality focused home healthcare delivery to 15 cities across India through a protocol driven model, delivered through an efficient combination of clinical competence, technology and para medical talent.
Our healthcare network will be supported by a cloud-based technology platform, which includes electronic medical records and scalable protocol-driven services in specialised therapeutic areas. We are also consolidating our services in one city at a time, ensuring seamless logistics and service delivery.
How much investments have you made in the project? What is your expectation on the ROI?
Medwell Ventures has made an initial seed and founders investment upwards of $3 million. We plan to invest about $40-$50 million in this sector during the next 4-5 years.
Are you planning to raise funds in near future?
We are planning to raise $10-$15 million in institutional round of Series A funding in the second quarter of FY2016.
What are the challenges you are facing with big projects? How do you plan to overcome these challenges?
The challenges of any new model are always related to execution and the first mover always works harder to establish the category. The major challenge for us would be to ensure continuous talent build up and ongoing training of our front end service delivery team.
Speciality home health is driven by a strong clinical approach. Hence, we are ensuring that there is strong senior leadership at the corporate and city level to ensure strong execution. Each vertical of our specialities is led by highly experienced clinical leader. We have invested heavily on our talent, which will bring success to this business.
Medwell Ventures acquired Nightingales Home Healthcare services last year and as per the recent reports, it plans to invest $40-$50 million in 16 major cities in upcoming years. What is your ultimate objective behind this rapid expansion?
We plan to build Nightingales on a pan India scale and make it the premier home healthcare brand in the country.
With shift in diversification towards healthcare and wellness, innovative startups are changing the industry scenario as a whole. How did you conceptualised the idea to start Medwell Ventures?
Medwell Ventures was conceptualised by me and Dr Ferzaan Engineer, with an aim to give India a new format of healthcare delivery. It was created on the foundation of our collective experience in healthcare delivery and clinical research. We conceptualised the idea with the focus of creating models of healthcare delivery in the out-of-hospital space.
Both of us have spent several years in the healthcare ecosystem of India and abroad and were keen to use that experience in new innovation. We were also fortunate to have a team that worked with us over the last several years and co-founded the company with us.
How does Medwell Ventures plan to change the current state of healthcare system in India via its innovative solutions?
Medwell Ventures expects to establish a network in 16 Indian metro clusters serving over a million families in the coming years. This will be supported by a cloud-based technology platform and protocol-driven services in specialised therapeutic areas. This healthcare system will integrate different delivery channels to bring care closer to patients. Additional services will include remote health monitoring, tele-health, diagnostics, rehabilitation and wellness therapeutics, which will be launched in waves.
What is your growth strategy? Is there any other merger or acquisition in offing?
We will scale the company through both organic and inorganic growth opportunities. The company is also exploring alliances with various global medical technology partners in order to provide services, particularly in the area of chronic diseases.
Why are you focusing more towards establishment of innovative services in major cities only? Why don’t you plan something to upgrade or uplift the healthcare system in remote areas? If you do, please elaborate?
In the Initial years, our focus will be on the metros as there is an existing healthcare infrastructure and a highly evolved healthcare delivery system. Since home healthcare is an innovative healthcare delivery model, it has to get established first in the metros, where there is a felt need of this concept from the community and then in the tier-II cities. We currently do not have plans for the remote areas. However, we do see the possibility of using technology-centric avenues - such as telemedicine to serve the remote areas of the country.
What are your prime focus areas under healthcare and why?
Our primary areas of focus are pulmonology, cardiology, metabolic diseases, neurological health, orthopaedics, geriatrics, rehabilitation and post-operative surgical site management. With the rise in chronic diseases in India, our focus is on the management of chronic diseases. Chronic diseases will be India’s biggest challenge in healthcare and also the biggest cost factor for healthcare industry in India.
How do you see Indian healthcare scenario evolving in India in years to come?
A country-wide survey has revealed that more than 40 million Indians lose their lives to chronic diseases each year and a fourth are below 60 years. Demographical and lifestyle changes coupled with altering disease profiles drive the Indian healthcare market. Nuclear families and working spouses have altered family equations, leaving little time and energy for personalised healthcare.
An ageing population, shortage of hospital beds and the need for continuity of care pre/post-hospitalisation create a strong demand for professionally driven speciality home healthcare services. The future of patient-centric care will incorporate speciality home healthcare as a key element.
As you are shifting towards super-speciality therapies like cardiology, metabolic diseases, neurological health and orthopedics etc., don’t you think logistics will be crucial for you? Please elaborate.
Yes, good logistics is the backbone of this model. We are therefore consolidating our services in one city at a time, so that we are well spread across each city, with multiple branches to ensure that we are serving the city optimally.
Since you are expanding in major cities across India, do you have plans to adopt the franchise model of expansion? Or would you go as a standalone entity?
We fundamentally believe that the services we provide need certain ethos. Hence, we would be expanding on our own to ensure the continuity of the delivery system that we are putting in place and also ensuring the quality of services that are offered. Therefore, we will not adopt the franchise model for expansion. For each city, we would implement the expansion plan on our own.