Heart Surgeon Brings High-Tech Health Care to the World’s Poor

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Indian philanthropist and cardiac surgeon Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty is the Chairman of Narayana Health in Bangalore. Born in a small village, Shetty went to school in Bangalore before studying in the UK. After returning to India in 1989, Mother Teresa had a heart attack, and Dr. Shetty was called to operate on her. From then on, he served as her personal physician.

Shetty founded Narayana Health in 2000. He is often called the “Henry Ford” of heart surgery in India. 12 percent of heart surgeries in India are performed by Narayana doctors. Narayana Health is a network of 32 hospitals in 20 locations throughout India. The company provides affordable health care to India’s poorest citizens. Shetty plans to expand Narayana Health internationally to Africa, Asia and Latin America. His first hospital outside of India is in the Cayman Islands.

What does Narayana Health do?

The reason why the hospitals are known here is because we’re very affordable to the common man of this country. We work with economies of scale. As you do more operations your results get better and costs go down. This building where I’m sitting now [Bangalore] is a hospital which has the infrastructure to perform 60 major heart surgeries in a day. We attract patients from 76 countries. Right now we do 37 surgeries every day.

What is your business model?

First of all, we have invested a huge amount of money in the infrastructure of the hospitals. If the same amount of infrastructure is provided in hospitals in the U.S. and Europe, it hardly gets used for eight to nine hours a day. We use our infrastructure for 14 to 15 hours a day. Secondly, we perform one of the largest number of heart surgeries in the world. Through working with us, companies capture 12% of the Indian market for cardiac health care. This brings our input costs down. Third, we’re also an academic institution training heart surgeons, cardiologists, perfusionists and nurses. We conduct 79 training programs on campus, so half of the workforce here is not paid by us. They are students undergoing a training program.


Source: The Wall Street Journal (link opens in a new window)

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