In February 2019, anesthesiologist and critical care specialist Emmanuel Rupert came into the role of Managing Director and Group CEO at Narayana Health. It was an exciting but challenging task for the medical professional, who was to lead and manage one of India’s largest multispecialty hospital chains, comprising 22 hospitals, six heart centres and 19 primary care facilities, across India and an international hospital in the Cayman Islands.
Headquartered in Bangalore, Narayana Health services the southern state of Karnataka and eastern India, as well as northern, western and central India. With Emmanuel at the helm, Narayana Health (formerly known as Narayana Hrudayalaya), has stayed true to its founding mission: make healthcare affordable.
In early 2000, when Narayana Health opened its doors in Bangalore, approximately 2.4 million Indians required heart surgery annually. But expensive costs, inability to travel and a shortage of providers meant only 60,000 received it.
Such a gap inspired UK-trained cardiac surgeon Devi Prasad Shetty to build an affordable and accessible hospital chain across India. Its services have developed to provide care in more than 30 specialties.
These procedures include cardiology and cardiac surgery, cancer care, neurology and neurosurgery. "We offer the highest quality of clinical care within affordable costs," confirms Emmanuel.
"We have gained trust and credibility and this makes them avail our services across all specialties." He adds, "Most of our patients come by word-of-mouth based on somebody else’s experience."
Having worked in the medical sector alongside the hospital’s founder, Emmanuel understands the philosophy of the business. He also understands the needs and demands of staff working across the entire clinical spectrum.
With a portfolio featuring over 25 years of clinical experience and 10 years of experience as an administrator in healthcare delivery, Emmanuel was the right man for the job. "I have a deep understanding of how the different departments operate," he explains.
"My previous roles helped me connect with clinicians, understand the operational side and to have solutions on hand."
Emmanuel joined Narayana Health in 2000 at Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, where he established the Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care.
For the initial 10 years of his career, he continued to work at the Kolkata unit. "I was the Clinical Director of the 650-bed hospital in Kolkata," Emmanuel relays.
"Later, I took over as the Regional Clinical Director for the eastern part of the country where we had nine units." He was then appointed as Clinical Director for the east and the western side of the operations.
Before Emmanuel was appointed Managing Director and Group CEO, he was the Group Director – Medical Services at Narayana Health. The medical professional was responsible for clinical governance, clinical quality, clinician hiring and credentialing, as well as clinician engagement, research and training and clinical data analytics.
Through its low-cost model, the hospital can treat patients who otherwise could not afford health care. "Cost is important," Emmanuel highlights when asked what sets Narayana apart from its competitors.
"Our use of analytics, business intelligence and clinical analytics helps us stay one step ahead. The information is so precise that we can make changes to our processes quickly to suit our needs and the patient’s needs."
In all that we do, the objective of building an affordable and sustainable healthcare ecosystem remains at the core.
The demand for the advanced level of care that Narayana provides is evident. Over the years the group has expanded from approximately 225 operational beds to more than 6,000 beds.
This year-on-year growth is achieved through a combination of projects and acquisitions. "More than 3.5 million patients visit the outpatient clinics every year," Emmanuel says.
"Patients from more than 30 countries trust us for super-specialty care ranging from cardiac sciences, neurosciences, gastrosciences, advanced cancer care and transplant services including a large number of solid organ and bone marrow transplants. We do more than 10% of all the cardiac procedures in the whole country across our network of hospitals."
Narayana Health operates with a mindset of growth while keeping prices down. It has achieved its success through smart use of equipment and telemedicine (the practice of caring for patients remotely through technology).
According to The Commonwealth Fund, the company has treated more than 53,000 patients through telemedicine programs. Narayana has been able to increase its reach with minimal investment in physical infrastructure and an "assetright" expansion strategy.
Another of Narayana’s success points is its effective supplier relationships. "We go for the best product that is available. And because of the sheer volumes of the usage across the entire network, we can get products at an extremely competitive price," Emmanuel notes.
"The clinicians are crucial to choosing the products we use." Narayana also has financial and supply chain teams that provide input on cost-effectiveness. "We don’t aimlessly change from one company to another," Emmanuel says."These strong relationships give us stability. There are some products that we haven’t changed for the past two decades."
To continue providing high quality, affordable healthcare services to the broader population in India, Narayana Health is focusing on consolidating its operations across its network of hospitals with strategically planned expansion of services and specialties in existing hospitals, be it the flagship hospital in Bangalore or its operations in Kolkata.
Additionally, it’s strengthening its operations in the newly set-up units in the National Capital Region, New Delhi and its exclusive children’s hospital in Mumbai. "The journey of telemedicine that we started a decade back will be strengthened by launching the service at a national level," says Emmanuel.
"We are firmly focused to be the centres of excellence for tertiary and quaternary care, while providing these services at an affordable cost. "And, in all that we do, the objective of building an affordable and sustainable healthcare ecosystem remains at the core."
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