16 May 2012

Hospital in Bangalore Innovates to Treat Both Rich and Poor

Ten years ago, Indian cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Shetty founded a hospital he called Narayana Hrudayalaya ('Temple of the Heart') in Bangalore. His goal was to provide top notch health services to both rich and poor Indians in the same facility.

From Al Jazeera:
"We decided to adopt all the business principles of Walmart or Henry Ford - the one thing in common is the economy of scale," Shetty explains.

At the Narayana, approximately 40 per cent of patients pay a reasonable price for their treatment, a small percentage - those who "want the frills of executive rooms" - pay a premium, a majority pays less than the market rate and 10 to 20 per cent pay virtually nothing. For the latter category, the hospital's charitable wing raises money to help compensate for the material costs of their treatment. 
In any other hospital, those who could not afford to pay their medical bills would simply be sent away until they came up with the cash, but at the Narayana the hospital's charity wing helps them to find the money.
A four episode series from Al Jazeera, called Indian Hospital, provides a look into the innovative and successful hospital. The hospital has managed to reduce costs and provide a service that reaches people at all income levels while making a profit. "Cardiac surgery costing $40,000 to $50,000 or more in the US has a baseline cost here of just $1,800," reports Al Jazeera.
"One of the co-operative societies of milk approached me to endorse a low fat milk as a good milk for people with [a] heart problem," explains Shetty. "I told them I can endorse it provided they run a health insurance [scheme] for their milk vendors and this is how the Yashaswini Micro Health Insurance was born with the premium of 11 cents per month. 
"In the first year we had 1.7 million farmers paying 11 cents a month and the government paid seven cents. There are 1,006 varieties of surgery done on the human body and all these operations are covered by this insurance. It became a big success - we have over three million farmers paying 22 cents .... Now we are helping six other state governments to launch this poor man's health insurance programme." 
 Watch the first episode at the top and see the rest of the series here