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BW Businessworld

'Rural India Is Not Our Focus Area'

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The second edition of BW Healthcare Summit held in New Delhi on June 5 attracted major healthcare industry players. Daljit Singh, President of Fortis Healthcare Ltd, spoke to BW|Businessworld's Arshad Khan on his healthcare chain’s expansion plans, closing foreign operation, why they are not ready to move rural and more. Excerpts:
 
Fortis Healthcare recently posted not a very impressive annual result. It posted a net loss of Rs 143.7 crore, but at present it is on a recovery zone. How much time it will take for Fortis to be profitable?
Very soon. We are moving in the right direction.
 
Fortis has sold the last of its international hospitals in Singapore. Is it due to lack of opportunities? Should Indian healthcare companies focus purely on domestic operations?
Yes. Largely we sold out our international hospitals. Not because of lack of opportunity but we decided to focus more on domestic operation because the opportunity to create impact here is much greater.
 
International operation was profitable but comparing the resources deployed domestically and abroad, domestic operations are more profitable.
 
Fortis is all set to open two more new hospitals in south India. Any more expansion plans in near future?
Lots of projects are on the line. Our hospital in Bengaluru and Chennai are complete. As soon as the permissions are handed we will roll out. There is one more hospital coming out in Bengaluru. Then we are increasing our intake capacity in some hospitals and also growing our presence in two tier cities.
 
What about competition with other multi-specialities?
India has a wide gap between demand and supply. Demand in healthcare exceeds supply so more competition is favourable in healthcare sector.
 
Your hospital in Gurgaon is said to be one of the most technically advanced hospital. What is the arrangement you have with technology providers? 
Fortis has partnership with technological providers. We buy software and advisory from them.
 
How do you cater to the rural areas? Any plans?
Currently rural India is not our focus primarily because of people's inability to pay. Our ability to source doctors and nurses there is very poor. Lack of social infrastructure demotivates doctors to shift to rural areas. Once these two issues are solved by the government,  the entire ecosystem has to be ready for the shift to rural areas. The government can do it because it is providing funds.
 
As you said that there is a lot of complications in opening a hospital. Hasn’t the Modi Govt eased the norms?
Not any that I am aware of.