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Business News/ Companies / People/  Single specialty hospital chains are here to stay: Vishal Bali, executive chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings
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Single specialty hospital chains are here to stay: Vishal Bali, executive chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings

On September 20, AHH announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology (AINU), with an investment of ₹600 crore

Vishal Bali, executive chairman, Asia Healthcare HoldingsPremium
Vishal Bali, executive chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings

Asia Healthcare Holdings (AHH), funded by TPG Growth and GIC (Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund), has been trying to carve a niche for itself in India’s healthcare space, by focusing primarily on single-speciality hospitals. On September 20, AHH announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology (AINU), with an investment of 600 crore. AINU is India’s largest hospital network specialising in urology and nephrology care with presence in four cities.

In this interview, Vishal Bali, AHH’s Executive Chairman, talks about how investments in single speciality networks, has been a fruitful strategy. Bali has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare ecosystem. Earlier, he was the Group CEO of Fortis Healthcare Limited and the CEO and MD of Wockhardt Hospitals.


Q: Asia Healthcare Holdings (AHH) has always believed in driving single specialty healthcare delivery platforms having successfully created niche healthcare chains in oncology (CTSI), mother and childcare (Motherhood Hospitals) and fertility (Nova IVF). Now AHH has acquired a majority stake in Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology (AINU). This approach seems to be paying huge dividends for the company.

We started AHH in FY17 as a single specialty healthcare delivery platform that would invest, transform, and grow a spectrum of single specialty enterprises under one holding company. The key differential is that the AHH team would take both operating and execution responsibilities in each of the companies, along with the CEOs and their operating teams. This platform approach to growing and scaling healthcare delivery enterprises and leveraging operating capabilities of key functions across the platform is unprecedented in the healthcare sector.

The rapid scale and unit economics that we have achieved in each of our enterprises are proof points of this thesis playing out. We grew Cancer Treatment Services International (CTSI) from one oncology hospital to 11 in three years, the Motherhood Women & Children’s hospital network has grown from three to 22 hospitals in six years and Nova IVF has scaled from 18 centres to 70 centres in just three years.

Q: AHH was launched in India in 2016 after acquiring Cancer Treatment Services International (CTSI) for $38 million. Why do you think AHH has been very successful going down the inorganic route?

In each of our companies, we have taken majority control at a relatively early stage of the journey but each one of them has had an excellent clinical differentiation. I believe that this foundation is a key enabler for us to grow the building blocks of inducting a top-class clinical and management team, market-leading customer service processes, right capitalization and brand creation. So, the inorganic route has been the starting point, post which there has been mostly organic growth and scale.

Q: What was the thought process behind acquiring AINU? Are you fully satisfied with the deal valuation?

Urology and Nephrology are amongst the fastest-growing clinical issues in the country. Indians have a high incidence of urinary tract infections, kidney stones and non-cancerous prostate enlargement issues. More than 50% of men in the country have an enlarged prostate by the age of 60 years. Increasingly we have observed a rise in the incidence of Urological cancer in the last decade. Cancer of the prostate and bladder is becoming more common. Broadly we may see a higher incidence of Uro-Oncology, Uro-Gynaecology, and Paediatric Urology cases in the years ahead.

Around 10% of the Indian population suffers from chronic kidney disease and every year over one lakh cases of renal failure are reported which makes Nephrology care a key focus area for patients in India. In this context, AINU is the only enterprise in the country that has taken a leadership position in the urology and nephrology specialty care. We are coming in at the right valuation and see a significant opportunity the scale the enterprise.

Q: How do you see the Indian healthcare sector evolving qualitatively and in terms of providing affordable healthcare?

India’s private healthcare has attracted more than $7 billion in FDI through private equity infusion into the sector. Our country is amongst the lowest-cost healthcare providers globally despite the fact that 90% of consumables and medical technology used in the sector are imported in USD and the rupee continues to depreciate. The Government remains the key enabler of providing affordable healthcare given the vastness of its resources and infrastructure.

Q: What are the challenges that the Indian healthcare sector needs to surmount to go to the next level? Do you see our healthcare services being on par with global standards?

Indian clinicians are amongst the most qualified and experienced in the world and our medical teaching institutions are globally recognized. However, for a country of 1.3 billion people we have not scaled our medical and paramedical teaching institutions to enable enough doctors and nurses to graduate, leading to a massive demand-supply gap.


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Published: 23 Sep 2023, 04:47 PM IST
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