City hospitals look at value-for-money offers to fill beds: BCG study

The study highlights the sharp contrast to the overall situation of inadequate healthcare capacity in India


In Indian cities, patients will increasingly be able to select hospitals based on their needs and preferences, according to the BCG report. Photo: HT
In Indian cities, patients will increasingly be able to select hospitals based on their needs and preferences, according to the BCG report. Photo: HT

Mumbai: An increasing number of new private hospitals in Indian cities are trying to attract patients with value-for-money offers as they struggle to fill beds amid rising competition, according to a new study by Boston Consultancy Group (BCG), a sharp contrast to the overall situation of inadequate healthcare capacity in the country.

Historically, hospitals in India have had no problem filling beds and often operated at full or near capacity. But for an increasing number of hospitals in the cities, this is no longer the case, BCG said in its study.

“In recent years, Indian private healthcare providers have invested heavily to build capacity, and this has benefited both patients and hospitals tremendously. In the last five years alone, top hospital chains have tripled their capacity to serve urban patients, and largely—as a result of these efforts—their revenues have quadrupled,” the global consultancy said in its report, which Mint has reviewed.

Some Indian cities now have 3.3 beds per 1,000 people, close to the World Health Organization standard of 3.5 beds per 1,000 people and above the world average of 2.9 beds per 1,000 people, the study said.

The BCG finding on the excess healthcare capacity and increased competition in India’s urban regions is in contrast with the national picture.

India is likely to miss its 2015 millennium development goal to control infant and maternal mortality rate because of insufficient healthcare capacity, according to a report by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and Healthcare Federation of India, released on Wednesday.

“The Millennium Development Goals of reducing infant mortality ratio (IMR) to 28 per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to 109 per 1000,000 live births is unlikely to be achieved by 2015,” the report said.

While the maternal mortality rate has declined over the past 30 years from 460 to 212 per 1,00,000 live births, it remains high relative to the targets set by the global policy.

Based on the current trajectory of India’s 11th five-year plan (2007-12), India is likely to fall short of the 12th Plan (2012-17) goals for IMR and MMR. Despite a considerable decline in child malnutrition rates over the past few decades, India continues to have the highest number of malnourished children in the world, the PwC report added.

“Several planned health goals have failed to keep pace with the rapid economic growth, and health expenditure by the government remains at around 0.9% of GDP (gross domestic product) versus the target of 2.0% of GDP (2010) set by the National Health Policy in 2002,” the report said.

But, according to the BCG report, in Indian cities, patients will increasingly be able to select hospitals based on their needs and preferences.

“Growth in these markets will therefore depend on the ability to understand and meet patients’ diverse needs, and providers that continue to add capacity without differentiating their value propositions will reap diminishing returns,” BCG said.

It added that private healthcare providers have not yet figured how to identify the factors that drive patient behaviour or increase satisfaction in this new health-care environment, and often invest in areas that are not high priorities for patients.

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