If you follow the global health innovation space you have probably heard of Dr. Devi Shetty and the Narayana Health group of Hospitals (NH). Started in 2001 NH (an IPIHD innovator) now operates 26 health centers across India. Patients from around India and Southeast Asia arrive knowing they will receive affordable, high quality specialty care.
If you follow the global health innovation space you have probably heard of Dr. Devi Shetty and the Narayana Health group of Hospitals (NH). Started in 2001 NH (an IPIHD innovator) now operates 26 health centers across India. Patients from around India and Southeast Asia arrive knowing they will receive affordable, high quality specialty care. They are diagnosed by the doctor, told the exact price the treatment will cost (accurate within 5%) and then sent to a payment specialist who determines how much that family can pay given their income. My IPIHD colleagues and I had the privilege this fall of seeing first-hand how NH does its good work.
What is so remarkable? Even though they are structured as a for-profit, no one is ever turned away due to inability to pay. (Doctors are never told of a patient’s ability to pay.)
To make this possible, NH focuses on a few core capabilities:
- Focus on the Patient: All hospital workers are taught the importance of patient-centered care by learning how to speak to families with compassion. Patients have a hotline to call and report any complaints—all are addressed within 48 hours, but are only considered resolved when the patient says they are resolved.
- Service to the Greater Community: NH operates a free telemedicine unit that reviews EKGs in under a minute for health centers around the world in need of specialists. During IPIHD’s visit this fall, we visited 30 children from Iraq who had flown in to receive cancer care that was not possible where they live. NH also runs a large mentorship program for youth from rural villages and train the next generation of NH doctors and nurses.
- Lean Processes: NH has opened 26 specialty hospitals since 2001 and has it down to a science. Opening a new hospital costs just $7M and takes 8 months to complete construction. To extend the lives of medical devices by 20-30%, they’ve incubated a technical assistance and repair company of highly trained technicians who operate around the clock. They also have a 14-person innovation team that is constantly evaluating and testing new ideas that can continue to improve quality and reduce cost. They even launched a new low-cost health insurance plan for some regions in India.
- High Quality Care: Delivering high-quality healthcare depends on having the best doctors and hospital staff and keeping them well-trained and happy. NH runs nurse training and management programs that train best-in-class nurses. (They hire the majority of trainees.) The high volume of patients means that doctors and nurses see a wide range of medical procedures and work on difficult cases. The efficiency of NH means that doctors operate on 2-3 times the number of patients in the same amount of time. You learn by doing and learning under the best makes for highly skilled staff.
So what is on the horizon for NH? Within India, NH is eager to open more hospitals in smaller cities. They’re also looking to scale their new health insurance plan nationally. Earlier this year NH opened a 110- bed hospital in the Cayman Islands in partnership with the Cayman Islands government and Ascension Health (a US- based hospital network). Starting first in orthopedics and cardiac care, this hospital plans to expand into assisted living and other health services at a fraction of the typical price charged in the US and the Caribbean. Recently they did a price quote for a heart procedure at 1/6th the cost of the US provider. Insurers are already starting to look twice.
NH offers innovation with an incredible purpose. We couldn’t be more proud to have them in our network!