Whenever there’s talk of sunrise sectors in India at assorted industry seminars, the healthcare business unfailingly gets a mention. However, the gulf between demand and supply in this most crucial of service industries only keeps widening. All that could change for the better, according to a recent KPMG report. With a mix of government initiatives, public private partnerships and foreign direct investment, the health infrastructure across the country is projected to grow by an average of 6 per cent per annum between 2009 and 2013 with a total investment of $14 billion. And nearly half of that money is likely to get invested in six states: Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. But that may still not be enough.
Rising income levels, changing demographics and shifts in disease profile from chronic to lifestyle diseases are expected to double the size of healthcare spending by 2012 and quadruple by 2017. “While the Indian healthcare system has grown manifold over the past few years, it has yet not been able to keep pace with the rapid rise in the population. One example of that is the availability of hospital beds in our country—against a world average of 4 beds per 1,000 population, India lags far behind at just over 0.7,” says Pradip Kanakia, head of markets and healthcare services at KPMG. One of the biggest challenges for organised healthcare operators, such as Apollo, Fortis and Max, would be the ability to scale-up fast and keep services affordable.