At least 12-15 super-specialty hospitals to come up along Shamshabad-Hi-tech city stretch

Walk into any corporate hospital in the State capital, and the first thing that one confronts is non-availability of beds for a patient. If the patient's condition is serious, then hospital authorities shift him/her to the emergency wing and wait till a bed is empty.

This is all-pervading, despite the fact that in the last two years, there has been huge growth in healthcare industry.

Lucrative sector

Promoters have realised that the sector has become lucrative in Hyderabad and more hospital beds are being added everyday. Small and budget hospitals (50 beds) are opening by the day in big numbers. Several middle and large sized hospitals (200 beds and above) have either come up or are setting up their facilities. Existing top corporate hospitals have expanded to other parts of the city and added beds. And yet, despite the leap in hospital beds, more or less, all corporate hospitals are running full.

By the last count, industry observers assert that 12 to 15 super-speciality hospitals (200 beds and above) are coming up along the Shamshabad-Hi-tech city stretch. The total investment that is expected to pour in through these projects is between Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,200 crore, in the next few years.

Among many factors, two major reasons that have fuelled the growth of private healthcare here is the manifold increase in population between Shamshabad and Hi-tech city and medical tourism. The government has given up on tertiary care and hence the private sector has led the growth.

In this decade, Hyderabad has witnessed a steep growth in population by almost five million. And, apparently, the metropolitan area alone has a population close to 6.5 million. “To be able to service this population, Hyderabad requires about 25,000 hospital beds and at present, estimates suggest that there are 10,000 to 12,000 hospital beds and that too majority may not be in the higher secondary or tertiary care,” says Medical Director, Care Group of Hospitals, Dr. Rampapa Rao.

Other factors driving this ‘boom' in the private health sector includes increase in the number of ‘insured' population, Arogyasree and traditional government sponsored re-imbursement schemes like CGHS, ESI and large pool of patients from nearby States like Orissa, West Bengal, border towns of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Another reason for the growth of the healthcare sector is the entrepreneurship of doctors, which has spawned mini-hospitals. “Large number of medical graduates from Andhra Pradesh (between the 60's and 90's) had gone to UK and US for specialisations. Few faculty positions at teaching hospitals forced these doctors to take up private practice. They later turned entrepreneurs and set up mini-hospitals. That's why the capital has large number of facilities with 50 bed capacity or less,” analyses Dr. Rampapa Rao.

Number of hospitals

The estimated number of mini-hospitals (with 50 beds) in Hyderabad is between 120 and 150 and the number of clinics and nursing homes (10 to 20 beds) will be anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000. The medium to large sized hospitals (200 beds capacity and above) will be a little more than 15 in number.

“The demography of doctors is cosmopolitan. Nearly 40 per cent of the doctors here are from other States and they, in turn, attract a large number of patients from other States. Hyderabad, compared to Delhi and Mumbai, still provides affordable options in medical care and even lifestyle. In the end, it is the goodwill of the doctor that attracts patients,” asserts Chairman, Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Dr. D. Nageshwar Reddy.

Observers, however, caution that the growth in medical infrastructure should be commensurate with availability of talent. “The present ratio of 0.6 medical professionals per 1,000 population in the country reflects the big gap between infrastructure and expertise. The situation is even worse in relation to other key human resource areas like clinical nurses, technicians, paramedical healthcare givers and healthcare managers,” they surmise.

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