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BW Businessworld

Will Reach Out To Rural India

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Ronald de Jong, executive vice-president and chief market leader, OSA, Philips, spoke to Shrutika Verma on India’s healthcare opportunity

What are the key drivers of growth in India?
As population keeps growing, people will need more healthcare facilities. We see lifestyle changes such as eating habits that are causing a rise in diseases such as diabetes. Also, with the expanding middle class, more people have disposable income and one of the priorities is investing in their health.

Besides, the lighting business, which is our biggest, continues to remain in focus. We will increase reach, especially in rural India. And we will continue to focus on newer higher-end areas such as solar lighting with LED.

What are Indian healthcare’s key areas of concern?

There are many people who do not have access to healthcare. There are 1.3 beds per 1,000 people. Worldwide, this is close to 3-3.5 — as recommended by the World Health Organisation. The second concern is the rise in chronic ailments, mainly cancer, cardiovascular disease and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. 

Lastly, it is very important to work on prevention and early detection and that needs more emphasis in India. We are more than willing and eager to team up with the government, ministry of health and cardiology or oncology associations to work on programmes for prevention and early detection of diseases.

How important is India with respect to exporting low-cost equipment?

There is a huge market in India. With the acquisitions and investments we have made, we try and satisfy the needs of the Indian market first. But for sure, the strategic intent is to leverage the acquisitions and products for the Indian market on a regional and global level.

What new healthcare technologies can the market expect from Philips?
SleepMapper is a mobile and Web-based system designed to help OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) patients enhance their sleep therapy experience. It provides feedback on therapy usage, mask fit and the apnea-hypopnea (pauses in breathing during sleep) index. Users can also access videos and guides to learn about OSA and the working of the Philips Respironics System One device, currently available only in the US and Canada.

We are also assessing the potential for home healthcare solutions. We already have a home healthcare business in India which focuses mainly on management and treatment of OSA, but we are looking at expanding this portfolio.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 09-09-2013)