P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai, Nov. 8

IT is not a case of once bitten twice shy for the Apollo Hospitals Group, after franchisee-related issues required it to opt out of its first baby-oriented centre in Delhi.

The hospital group is looking to enter a new line of healthcare delivery, day-care surgery or ambulatory centres, said Mr Ratan Jalan, Chief Executive Officer of Apollo Health and Lifestyle Ltd (AHLL). And this too would be on the retail-franchisee format, he added.

AHLL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Apollo Hospitals Group and it runs `The Apollo Cliniq', a network of `family-clinics' across the country.

Recently, AHLL launched `The Cradle', an infant-oriented centre in Delhi. But one of the franchisees, the Talwar Group, off-loaded its equity to Fortis Healthcare resulting in AHLL opting out of the venture. .

Day-care surgery centres, known as ambulatory centres, are popular abroad, Mr Jalan said, where about 80 per cent of the surgeries are done in such centres. They are across segments such as general, ENT etc. The patient's hospital expense gets reduced as he will not be required to stay-over at the hospital.

It will also reduce the burden on the hospitals, as they would not have to spend resources on minor illnesses. Big hospitals or tertiary healthcare centres will be able to focus on the higher acute levels of surgery, he said.

"We are working on the (day-care surgery) concept," he told Business Line and added that it could happen over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, AHLL expects to open Cradle centres in Mumbai; at least three are on the anvil.

Besides expanding its Cradle presence in Gurgaon, AHLL expects to set up more such infant-centres in Pune and Jaipur as also in Gujarat and Punjab. Each centre requires an investment of about Rs 10 crore, without the land, which would be the franchisee's responsibility.

With 40 family-clinics in place across the country, he said that AHLL expects to become more visible in the country having achieved a critical mass. The retail-network expects to roll-out four family clinics in the outer-fringes of Mumbai in another three months. The company has a presence in the South, North and Eastern regions of the country.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 9, 2005)
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