Shetty favours private healthcare
Dr Devi Shetty, cardiac surgeon, entrepreneur and proprietor of the proposed Cayman Narayana Hrudayalaya (NH) Medical Centre has noted that governments should run insurance programmes and should not be in the business of providing healthcare.
Dr Shetty said this when he launched the first phase of NH’s Ahmedabad facility, a 5000-bed health city with a medical college at Rakhial, Ahmedabad state in India.
He noted that because India has placed education and healthcare into private hands, the government of India was reaping the benefits of being the country that produces the most doctors and nurses in the world.
He said that he is an advocate for charity and called on governments to refrain from over taxation, because this was what drove the cost of medical care to unaffordable levels
Dr Shetty said that if all goes according to plan, India will be the first country in the world to dissociate good health from affluence.
According to the Al Jazeera news network, in Dr Shetty’s NH Hospital, some 40 per cent of patients can pay for their care, while 60 per cent pay less and 20 per cent pay almost nothing.
“The rich pay a premium for single rooms and other benefits, and Shetty operates a Robin Hood business model,” the television network reported.
Ironically, Dr Shetty also runs a micro-insurance scheme, despite his criticism of the privately-run model, which ends up exploiting the public.
Dr Shetty has been famed for reducing the cost of heart surgery dramatically. The average price for open heart surgery in Shetty’s NH Hospital is around $2,000, whereas it is $5,000 in the average private hospital in India and $20,000 to $100,000 in a US hospital.
The Al Jazeera network noted that Dr Shetty’s family-owned business was making higher profits than the average American hospital.
The NH group now has 14 hospitals with a collective capacity of 6,000 beds in 11 locations covering seven Indian states. The NH group is in the process of expanding its services to five more cities within the next six months. Dr Shetty’s group is headquartered in the city of Bengaluru in India’s city of West Bengal, which is the largest cardiac and paediatric hospital in the world.
Dr Shetty plans to build a 2,000 bed hospital at Grand Cayman’s East End and the ground breaking will be done in August. The group wants to open early next year, with a 140-bed hospital specialising in cardiac care and cancer treatments.
The Al Jazeera report noted that scale is perhaps the main reason why Dr Shetty has managed to reduce costs so dramatically.
“He has built a health city with thousands of beds and the facility operates at near capacity. It is well-established with complex surgery and high volume means better outcomes. And better outcomes mean lower costs, because patients do not need so long in intensive care and do not need to have further operations,” the report noted.
Dr Shetty’s vision is to build more health cities, moving his group from 5,000 to 30,000 beds. One consequence of scale is that the group can use its purchasing power to drive hard bargains with suppliers and encourage new suppliers.
Dr Shetty’s success is also linked to his efforts at standardising healthcare.
Currently, it is said that a medical case referred to 200 doctors is likely to get 300 different answers to the patient’s problems. Health care is famous for huge variation in what is done, the outcomes, and the costs.
Dr Shetty is driving out that variation, the report notes. He concentrates on improving processes and has reduced the rate of bed sores, a common complication in most hospitals, to zero. Now he wants to do the same for hospital infections.
Technology is also important. “In five years’ time,” Dr Shetty told the Health Services Journal, “a computer will make more accurate diagnoses than doctors. In 10 years’ time it will be mandatory for a doctor to get a second opinion from a computer before starting treatment.”