Despite the industry witnessing a consolidation phase, Eye-Q continues to treat six lakh patients a year, with revenues growing at two and a half times y-o-y. In three years, it plans to open 100 centres across the country and expand into global markets.RAJAT GOEL, FOUNDER AND CEO, EYE-Q
Back in July 2012, when we approached Rajat Goel to learn about his new socially-driven yet commercially viable business, Eye-Q Hospitals, he sounded a vision to deliver superior quality eye care facilities to people across income segments. In other words, his vision was to scale rapidly and conduct cataract surgeries from as low as Rs. 5,000 to as high as Rs. 75,000. Initially, he did succeed. Within five years, he had built 15 centres in Tier II and Tier III segments in Haryana, Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat, and empanelled the company on the government’s medical insurance policy for BoP.
But, what is the state of affairs today? I ask. And Goel candidly admits, “We thought we will scale rapidly from there. But, there was a lot of money in the industry and manpower became expensive. In the last two years, we’ve had to slow down expansion and consolidate operations.” Seemingly, that wasn’t just the case for Eye-Q but for other players in the space as well. Their strategy has been to open multiple hospitals in one cluster to leverage resources to deliver much better eye care facilities at low prices. Taking this route, the company has increased revenues by two and a half times year on year, and opened 28 centres in the same regions as it was present earlier. By end of year, it aims to take this number to 40.
We thought we will scale rapidly from there. But, there was a lot of money in the industry and manpower became expensive. In the last two years, the industry has seen a slump in expansion and companies have started to consolidate operations.
Achieving low cost delivery
Goel attributes the affordable healthcare delivery strategy to several key factors. One, of course, is developing low cost infrastructure. Second, is in building multiple hospitals in one cluster so that manpower resources can be leveraged effectively. The location strategy is designed in such a way that Eye-Q sets up centres in places, which are reasonably well developed, have adequate facilities for the staff to reside in, and allow staff to travel between clusters. A third, more widely recognised strategy is the adoption of Cloud and IT technology to deliver quality healthcare facilities to patients. “We have invested heavily in developing hospital management and electronic record management systems. We also encourage remote consultations where doctors can consult each other at all times to deliver quality eye care,” he shares. This, in fact, is also their differentiator when competing with local doctors. “In the last two years, we’ve created comprehensive healthcare solutions and we’ve achieved a Net Promoter Score of 65,” he reveals. Typically, Eye-Q invests close to Rs. 1.5 crore in building each centre.
During our last interview, Eye-Q had raised a Series A and Series B round from Song Investment Advisors and, Helion Venture Partners and Nexus Venture Partners respectively. In March 2015, it raised its third round amounting to US $5.5 million from IFC and existing investors Helion and Nexus. “In all we’ve raised US $28 million with the last round amounting to US $10 million,” he states. The funds are being channelised towards enhancing technology and patient care, creating brand awareness on digital mediums and building teams across centres. “We are now taking many freshers and training them in our academy to employ them at various levels across the company,” he shares. Contributing to the Skill India Mission, Eye-Q is currently training close to 150 freshers in various skills such as managerial, patient management, vision training, surgical and more in its training institute at Rohtak, Gujarat.
Leveraging information technology and quality eye care services, Goel nurtures a vision to setup 100 centres in three years and probably even look at replicating the model in other developed and developing economies. “While that idea seems nebular at this point, we will be exploring it once we gain reasonable traction in India,” he shares.
|Setup 15 centres across , Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat||Setup 28 centres across Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat|
|Raised Series A and Series B from Song Investment Advisors and, Helion Venture Partners and Nexus Venture Partners||Raised US $ 5.5 million from IFC and existing investors Helion and Nexus Venture Partners|
|Focus on scaling rapidly||Focus on consolidating operations and setting up multiple centres in same cluster|
|Trained 90 people month on month||Currently recruiting and training 150 people across various levels in the company|