The B-Town Doctors: Big Hospitals In Small Towns
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Divya Raman, 35, goes to her friendly, neighbourhood family physician in Koramangala, suburban Bangalore, whenever her family members fall ill. But this is not an average neighbourhood clinic. The walls are a warm magenta and yellow, there is enough space to sit and, most importantly, it is clean. “It is better than regular clinics, as it is clean and you do not get put off by a crowd,” says Raman.
Manipal Hospital would be happy to hear Raman’s response. For the last two months, the Rs. 500-crore hospital chain has been trying to perfect a formula to succeed in tier II towns.
The hospital’s management decided to shift the business focus of Manipal Cure and Care, its wellness chain, from preventive care, wellness and beauty to playing the role of a family physician.
Although 11 of the chain’s 15 hospitals are in tier II towns, it is only recently that it is trying to further carve segments in this market.
Fortis and Apollo too are working on targeting different segments in tier II markets. Fortis Healthcare, that has 20 of its 53 hospitals in tier II towns, launched its specialty clinics, Fortis C-DOC (Center for Diabetes, Obesity, and Cholesterol Disorders) targeted at tier II towns in December 2010.
Apollo announced in January that they were going to invest Rs. 10,000 crore in building 250 Apollo Reach Hospitals – smaller hospitals than the 51 they have in big cities – in tier II towns such as Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh.
Why are these big hospital chain so interested in small towns?