Apollo Hospitals has made a foray into the Indian home healthcare market, a new healthcare delivery segment that has seen this sector open up and grow over the past 18 months or so with players like Dabur, Portea, and Nightingales, the home health company of Medwell Ventures.
Announcing the launch of Apollo's services under a new company Apollo Home Healthcare Limited, Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals, said the beginning was being made with over 500 homecare professionals offering services across Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi. It has plans to add 13 more over the next 15 months with a total investment of Rs 50 crore.
Responding to BT's question on how affordable the services would be, Dr Reddy said, the costs "would be reasonable". His officials later explained that it would all depend on the nature of service and ballpark could range between Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,600 for a 24-hour attendance.
While Apollo officials often referred to the group planning and working on this foray for about 18 months, this time period has also seen others emerge and grow.
So, is Apollo late? Pointing out that Apollo was always guiding its investments based on what it heard from patients and their families, Dr Reddy said, "what took time to come to this level was IT." (The whole exercise apparently required lot of work on IT involving integration that encompassed data from hospitals, doctor protocols and other components.)
Despite the Apollo tag, the company is hopeful of being able to maintain neutrality as it has already been attending to patients who have had hospitalisations outside the Apollo fold.
The company's operations are being headquartered out of Hyderabad with Dr Mahesh Joshi as its CEO. He would be having active involvement of Harshad Reddy, son of Dr Reddy's eldest daughter Preetha Reddy and the executive vice chairperson at Apollo Hospitals.
However, others in this space haven't been sitting idle. Dabur, one of the earliest players in this space began around 2013 when the Dabur promoters - the Burman family formed its Health Care at Home India, joint venture with the founders of Healthcare at Home, a leading player in this space of UK. Equally, an early player and growing rapidly has been Bangalore-based, Ganesh Krishnan and Meena Ganesh-led Portea. It has been steadily adding growth and girth. It today has operations across 25 locations across India and is also in Malaysia. In the past year and a half, Portea has touched around 50,000 visits a month with around 2,300 employees. It has also invested in growing its technology platform.
Nightingales, the home health company of Medwell Ventures, on the other hand, has in the past 16 months rolled out its specialty led home healthcare services in Bangalore and Hyderabad and is launching in Mumbai shortly. The company has a team strength of 580 people and now provides more than 9,800 bedside nursing days annually, it today talks of 11,000 subscribers and provides 120 home visits a day. The company has already invested $3 million in its business over the past year and has raised $10 million recently. Medwell Ventures plans to invest $50 million behind its home healthcare business over the next four years covering 10 cities through multiple branches and having a subscriber base of 500,000 patients.
Ask Vishal Bali, co-founder and Chairman of Medwell Ventures on how he looks at the entry of Apollo and he says: "It is very encouraging to see Apollo Hospitals entry into the emerging home healthcare sector in the country. It validates the model of home healthcare by the leader of hospital care in India and shows that the Indian healthcare delivery ecosystem is poised for some patient centric innovative changes. Home healthcare is one of the answers for the affordability-accessibility challenges of healthcare in India."