Nightingales Home Healthcare's first centre in Mumbai was launched recently. Vishal Bali, Co-founder & Chairman of Medwell Ventures, spoke to Raelene Kambli at the event and shared his plans for the home healthcare business, the opportunities available in this space and his vision to capture the home healthcare market in India
Nightingales Home Healthcare’s first centre in Mumbai was launched recently. Vishal Bali, Co-founder & Chairman of Medwell Ventures, spoke to Raelene Kambli at the event and shared his plans for the home healthcare business, the opportunities available in this space and his vision to capture the home healthcare market in India
Medwell Ventures has been an early mover in the home healthcare space. How do you see the market shaping?
The market for home healthcare services in India has evolved very rapidly over the last three years and the addressable market is currently estimated to be $ five billion. The evolution of this category in the healthcare delivery ecosystem of the country also shows that the healthcare consumer in India is seeking these services, particularly with a strong clinical interface. We, at Medwell Ventures, took an early position in this and take pride in establishing it in India.
Do you see any white spaces in this space? How does Nightingale fill these gaps?
The category, though highly evolved in the developed world, is a complete white space in the Indian context. We founded Medwell Ventures with the core idea to incubate and scale healthcare delivery businesses in the out of hospital space. Nightingales, our home healthcare delivery brand has created a niche for itself by defining a space which was hitherto not available in the country. Our speciality-led services, which create a continuum of care and reduce recurring hospitalisations of patients with chronic diseases, is a distinct space.
How would you differentiate Nightingale Home Healthcare from the rest of the home healthcare players?
Home healthcare as a category sits in the out of hospital healthcare provision. Similar to inpatient healthcare delivery where a provider can take a general or a speciality position, in home healthcare too the provider has a choice to either take a general provider provision and give more transactional services of a doctor, nurse or physiotherapy at home or take a speciality position with a high degree of clinical care built into the delivery. We, at Nightingales, have taken a speciality-led position with a focus on treating patients at home with congestive heart failure, COPD, neurohealth issues, musculoskeletal ailments and diabetic wounds. The company has also invested behind its own network of physiotherapy centres through which services are provided at both, home and the physio clinic. This ensures that there is continuity of care plans within the Nightingales system. Nightingales is a highly differentiated model when compared to all other home healthcare providers.
What is the current turn over of the company? What is the kind of investment you have made so far? What has been the ROI?
At the end of this financial year, the company would have invested upwards of $15 million in building this category across key cities in India with multiple branches in each city and a very scalable IT platform. This is the growth phase of the company and we expect continuing investments to happen over the next few years before the measurements of ROI start. We have gone down the path of a calibrated growth building one city at a time and ensuring that there is deep presence in each city.
What are your projections for this year?
We started our services in Mumbai early this year, so the key projection for this year is to open multiple branches in Mumbai and other cities in Western India. The company has already established deep presence in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Do you wish to tap the rural market in India? How?
If you look at the growth of corporate hospitals in the country, the phenomenon started in the metros and then spread to tier II and tier III cities across the country. The same will happen in the home health category, we will first see this more in the tier 1/ metro push and then the services will percolate to the smaller and rural markets.
You have immense expertise in building global healthcare delivery organisations. What is the roadmap you have charted for Medwell Ventures in the global markets?
We are building very strong systems and protocols in Medwell Ventures which can support and add value to home health as a business in any geography. While our primary focus is India, looking at the competencies that we have built in the enterprise there is gaining significant interest from markets outside of India.
What are the risk areas that you see for your business?
Every early stage category defining business has risks associated with it, the idea is to mitigate them and continue pursuing the path. All services businesses are people dependent, particularly in healthcare people skills become the cornerstone of success. When there are many early entrants in a new category every player has to ensure that they set high standards in the category, not following that risks the growth of the category.
You also have an expertise in building M&A driven growth initiatives. What opportunities do you see in this space for Medwell Ventures? Any M&As in the pipeline?
The origin of Medwell Ventures was through an acquisition. We will pursue growth through both organic and inorganic opportunities. We have built a very capable and competent team which has the ability to drive multiple initiatives simultaneously and comes from a strong healthcare background.
What is your opinion on the start-up boom in the healthcare sector, especially in the home healthcare space? Any new ideas in this space that have caught your eye? How viable will these models be?
India is finally witnessing an acceleration in healthcare start-ups which will define a new healthcare delivery ecosystem in the country. It is a very exciting time to build new healthcare models in the country and create scale behind them. While infrastructure creation is essential for the growth of the sector we have to move beyond and look for opportunities which fulfill the demand of the consumer.
What’s more important to your business- disruptive innovation or sustainable innovation? Why?
New businesses start with an idea which is disruptive but the continuing success of that idea is dependent on sustaining its innovation index, our business has tremendous potential to keep innovating and evolving because the consumer needs are also evolving at the same time. This is the challenge around creating a new category, one evolves the market while evolving the business.
One important lesson that you have learned when you started off your own business?
When you look at the founding team of Medwell Ventures, decades of healthcare experience reside in the team. We went down this path of entrepreneurship because we wanted to contribute a new model of healthcare to India. Status quo has great comfort built into it but one needs to challenge it. So my big lesson in business is that if something does not challenge you, it can never change you.