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"Health Cities" in India for quality, affordable health care

Dr. Devi Shetty has brought open heart surgery to India’s untreated poor through massive economies and scale in health delivery. In 2001, Dr. Devi Shetty founded Narayana Hrudayalaya (NH) heart-hospital in Bangalore, which has grown to perform more surgeries daily than any other hospital worldwide, to a broad population including India’s untreated poor. Now he plans to build massive “health cities,” hospital complexes which can deliver high-quality, high-volume health care at affordable prices.

Intellecap writes,
"NH performs approximately 32 open heart surgeries a day, almost eight times the average at other Indian hospitals, and the highest in the world. Yet, the heart hospital is merely the fulcrum of the rapidly developing Narayana Health City in Bangalore. This campus will consist of eight other hospitals and research institutes, ranging from a 1000-bed cancer hospital to a 500-bed eye hospital to institutes for neuroscience and thrombosis. The Narayana Health City is mirrored in Kolkata by the Rabindranath Tagore Insitute of Cardiac Sciences, and other such health cities are in the planning stage. While the global medical field moves towards five-star boutique hospitals, Dr. Shetty’s health cities are focused on the millions of poor people who can not otherwise afford treatment.”

Implications

India has found ways to innovate medical processes to provide healthcare before e.g. the oft-cited Aravind Eye Care System, which has been able to provide high-quality cataract surgery to the poor at an extremely affordable price.

Intellecap writes, “Medical process efficiencies, which are emerging as one of India’s core competencies, could enable India’s poor to access affordable healthcare, if incorporated into the wider Indian health system. These kinds of innovations need to be encouraged. What seems paramount for policy makers in India moving forward is cost control and process efficiency. The only way to encourage that is to help the government to push through sound policies, and encourage public‐private partnerships focused on innovation.”

Moreover, Dr. Shetty’s strategy has a number of other important benefits. The cities can also become advanced research centers and hands-on training facilities for more doctors. The centers also train women to operate medical machinery e.g. women trained to run ECG machines become highly skilled and report feeling tremendously empowered. Finally, other institutions, such as Harvard, are studying Dr. Shetty’s strategy to see if it can be replicated elsewhere.

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