GE Healthcare is looking at smaller cities and towns for growth in INDIA

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Milan Rao was appointed President and CEO of GE Healthcare South Asia and Managing Director of Wipro GE Healthcare on May 1, replacing Terri Bresenham who led GE Healthcare’s South Asia business since September 2011. In his first interaction with the media after his appointment, Rao outlined his strategy for growth, investments and the product pipeline for the Indian market. Excerpts:

What is your strategy to further GE’s vision for a healthier India?

My strategy is to scale the three pillars of healthcare — awareness, accessibility and affordability, not just at GE Healthcare but the Indian healthcare industry itself which is subscale.

Outside of delivery, medical equipment and technologies, the healthcare industry looks very subscale to me compared to industries I have worked in, that have scaled dramatically, be it financial services or telecom. If you look at the macro indicators of healthcare for instance, there are 50 million people suffering from cardio-vascular ailments, of which 50 per cent don’t get diagnosed.

Only 20 per cent actually get care and a miniscule percentage gets high quality care. Every three minutes, two people die of cancer. If 50 per cent of the country’s population has no access to care, then the healthcare industry is subscale.

If scaling is your single-point agenda, how do you propose to go about it?

There are three major components of scaling that we are addressing. First, creating a distribution network to go beyond serving the top 70 cities that we are present in through dealers and reach Tier-2,-3 and -4 markets that cover 800 cities and the surrounding areas, which were not addressed. To do this we have created a new company called GenWorks Health Pvt Ltd. Second, providing the right kind of services for the right kind of markets. We are creating a tiered approach to service Tier-1,-2,-3 and -4 markets depending on what each kind of market needs, including labour contracts, replacing parts, comprehensive maintenance contracts, direct visits for preventive maintenance, remote fixing, monitoring and servicing. Third, are the products that we design and create for the market. The strategy to scale really comes together when all these three components come together seamlessly.

What are the new products in the pipeline, and what launches can we expect this year?

We are targeting to roll out a set of 100 new products for India and global markets by 2020. Of this, 26 diagnostic and monitoring products, locally developed in India, have already been launched. Some of them are, the Mac 400 battery operated portable ECG system, Lullaby phototherapy system for new born babies, HF Advantage high frequency X-Ray system, Logiq 100 portable ultrasound system, and the more recently launched Revolutions ACTs CT system and Discovery IQ PET/CT molecular imaging system. This year, we plan to launch 7-8 product innovations in the areas of radiology imaging, women’s health imaging, maternal and infant care, monitoring and connected care.

What are the investments made by GE over the last 25 years and what is the outlay for the next three years?

We have invested $200 million in setting up three manufacturing plants in Bengaluru spanning 400,000 sq ft of manufacturing floor space where, over 200,000 units of medical diagnostic and monitoring products have been produced for India and the global markets.

These products enhance access to quality healthcare at affordable costs. Of the 3,600 people at GE Healthcare in India, we have invested in 1,500 dedicated R&D engineers who have come up with 125 product innovations, designed and developed 26 complete products for India and the world and generated 389 patents. Some of the other investments we have made recently are $20 million in Revolution ACTs CT system that has rapid imaging capability for quick diagnosis.

We have invested $20 million for Discovery IQ, a PET/CT, an affordable molecular imaging system to detect and diagnose cancer early.

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