Rolls Royces, movies: private India hospitals go luxe for growth

Wed May 27, 2015 5:56pm EDT
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By Zeba Siddiqui and Aditya Kalra

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Cinemas, Rolls-Royces and rooms so plush they could belong in a five-star hotel: private hospital operators in India are all but rolling out a red carpet to lure affluent locals and tourists to seek medical treatment at their luxe facilities.

Local hospital firms including Fortis Healthcare Ltd, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd and privately owned Medanta have built or upgraded facilities to tap the top-end of a private healthcare sector industry body ASSOCHAM estimates would grow 20 percent a year from 2013 to become a $125 billion market in two years time.

Overseas rivals including Dubai-based Aster DM Healthcare and ABV Group are also investing in luxury healthcare in India, attracted by strong demand for quality medical care which, due to lower costs and a weaker rupee, they can offer to patients at below-international prices.

"The fact that you actually come for surgery or medical treatment would be an incidental part of the experience," ABV Group Chief Executive Advet Bhambhani told Reuters.

ABV, due to open a luxury hospital in an upscale Mumbai neighborhood within two years, plans to provide Rolls-Royce cars to ferry its patients. It plans to invest $78 million and is also looking at refurbishing hotels, Bhambhani added.

An overcrowded and underfunded state healthcare system makes private healthcare the norm for all but the poorest of Indians.

Those wealthy enough to afford it travel to the United States or Singapore for treatment and these are the patients private hospital operators want to keep at home by offering top-notch facilities and Indian doctors who have worked or trained abroad.

At the 450-bed Fortis Memorial hospital near New Delhi, for example, there is an inhouse cinema lounge and a food court. And the rooms at Aster Medcity's 575-bed hospital in Kerala have warm lighting and hardwood floors intended to give them the feel of a luxury hotel room.   Continued...

A general view of the lobby area is pictured at the Fortis Memorial Hospital at Gurgaon on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, May 20, 2015.   REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee