Mumbai: It is a surprise that no one in India thought it fit to try and offer standardized eye and dental care across centres and even states, in a country where such care is usually expensive, and highly dependent on individual doctors. Both eye and dental care lend themselves to such standardization for several reasons. Interactions between patients and doctors are usually event-based (think cataract surgery, root canal treatment, an eye check-up); there is a significant level of automation; and processes can be easily made uniform and repeated. “Every single citizen has to go to an ophthalmologist, and with a population of 1.2 billion, the demand for healthcare is huge. There is no single large services provider in eye care," said A.M. Arun, the chairman of Vasan Healthcare.

Founded in 2001 with one general services clinic, the company has since changed its focus to eye care and, subsequently, dental care, and grown rapidly. It has also attracted a significant amount of private equity investment. Now, Arun wants to do more because he is convinced India is under-served, in terms of healthcare, given the number of people in the country. “The present number of Vasan Eye Care hospitals has crossed 150 and will be increased further to 200 centres by the next financial year," he said.

Vasan Healthcare CMD Dr A.M. Arun. Photo: Saisen/Mint

Vikram Vora seems to have had the same realization as Vasan, although he initially started his dental clinics, in 2009, with a social objective. That remains, although it has since been tempered with a dose of business logic, and a lot of retail sense (so much so that the two original clinics have been shuttered). Design firm Lemon Design and bookstore chain Crossword’s founder R. Sriram helped reinvent MyDentist as an accessible and scalable chain. “Most patients with a dental problem end up paying exorbitant amounts for treatments. They are not given a choice and the charges vary across patients for same treatment. At MyDentist, we offer standardized prices and an absolutely free consultation," said Vora. The cost of treatments offered varies between 300 and 90,000. Vora says in India people go to a dentist only when they are in extreme pain and it is imperative to offer affordable and quality services with integrity. Vora is eyeing opportunities in west India.

Meanwhile, Vasan, which continues to focus on the day-care model because it is “capital-light and easily scalable" according to Arun, is exploring opportunities in other areas where this will work.

Vasan Healthcare will venture into other services such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), urology, and diabetology.

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