Healing a mother’s heart!

Healing a mother’s heart!

Dr. Mohammed Rehan Sayeed, a cardiac surgeon by profession, started Motherhood Hospitals, a mother and child care single-specialty chain, to fill the lacunae in the delivery of healthcare in the country


Dr. Mohammed Rehan Sayeed and his wife could see the stark difference in healthcare delivery when they delivered their first son in Ohio, U.S and the other in Chennai.  They realised that there was a need-gap in this space and they wanted to make a difference in the healthcare sector in India. Eventually, they set out to do just that through Motherhood Hospitals.

A cardiac surgeon by profession, Sayeed started Motherhood Hospitals, a mother and child care hospital, as a part of Rhea Healthcare in 2011. The first hospital was set up in Indira Nagar in Bengaluru at a cost of Rs. 13 crore , out of which Sayeed and his family invested Rs. 7 crore  and the rest was met through a term loan. When the hospital broke even, the management set up a second centre in Chennai, which was funded through a mix of debt and equity. To further its expansion, the management went to the market for funding.  In 2013, Peepul Capital invested US $15 million in Rhea Healthcare. Currently, these funds are being utilised to set up centres in various parts of Southern India. Commenting about fund raising in the healthcare sector, Sayeed says, “Healthcare is not like other retail businesses which turn in some incredible returns for the investors. It is more of a slow and steady return business. One just needs to be clear and transparent about what is a reasonable deliverable and spell it out in the initial meetings itself.”

Currently, Motherhood operates three centres in three cities and is on course to open three more hospitals in the next calendar year.  For now, each hospital delivers an average of 150 babies a month and has 40 beds.

Building the momentum

When he is not in the operation theatre, Sayeed handles medical protocols, design and implementation of projects, doctor engagement and business development. “My being a cardiac surgeon has only added a significant element of safety to this specialty, because we are very particular about patient safety and will not compromise on it,” says Sayeed.

Motherhood, as a group, is affiliated with over 200 doctors and has handled 5,000 deliveries across three cities; 4,000 in Bengaluru, over 100 in Chennai and over 900 in Hyderabad. Approximately, 40 to 50 doctors function out of each facility, some work with the hospital exclusively and the others handle deliveries based on specific patient requests.

The hospital chooses its locations based on the kind of population mix, per capita income of its target group and availability of good doctors in the vicinity. It works on an asset light model and all its properties are on long-term lease contracts. In fact, the hospital also runs an IVF centre called “Parenthood”. Aditionally, it has strategic partners which complement its service offerings like BFMC (Bangalore fetal medicine center) and Kosmoderma, a chain of cosmeto- dermatology clinics.

Being operationally sound

In any hospital, adequate systems and processes are vital to ensure smooth functioning. “Such practices help reduce waiting times for patients, reduce inventory costs for the company, and ensure quality delivery of healthcare. It also helps analyse our data and learn from it,” says Sayeed.

In fact, Motherhood is the first among the mother and child care facilities to go for an NABH accreditation, demonstrating its interest in systems and processes, more importantly in safe practices. “NABH is the benchmark for that in India,” adds Sayeed.

On the operational front, the hospital emphasises on transparency in billing which is considered the bug bear of the industry. “Our non-Insurance patients leave the hospital within 10 minutes of discharge. This process is monitored for quality purposes. The entire process of admission through discharge is seamless, a testimony to this is the fact that 20 per cent of our patients are repeat customers,” declares Sayeed.

Commenting about equipments, Sayeed says, “As a practicing pediatric and neonatal cardiac surgeon, I have learnt that equipment is bought based on need and not based on big brands.” Though Motherhood buys equipment from companies like GE, Philips and Fanem, Sayeed declares that he is not a stickler for big brands. “Most of the equipment we have today are state-of-the-art but sourced from the company directly or from the distributors to give us service back-up,” he says.

Meeting tough challenges 

“Setting up the whole facility within the stipulated time is a challenge, as project delays for a startup can cost dearly,” says Sayeed. He adds, “The cost of construction and interiors is prohibitive. Yet, we need to be reasonable about the cost of healthcare.” For a hospital, infrastructure norms make no medical or economical sense. And still, hospitals need to comply with such age old laws.

Finding good medical professionals is another constraint as the talent pool is not growing as rapidly as the hospital industry is. “With good doctors and technicians returning to India, the reverse brain drain is helping us for now. It will inculcate a new work ethic and bring in more professionalism,” he states.

Going forward 

This industry is seeing many new entrants every year and is expanding rapidly. “It is good as competition will drive innovation and help maintain high standards of care,” says Sayeed. As far as Motherhood goes, in FY14-15, it plans to open three new centres between Chennai and Bangalore, while actively seeking other prospective locations in south India to further expand its presence. And, over the next few years, it is looking at adding about 10 centres through a organic and inorganic growth routes.

Over the next few years, Sayeed hopes that Motherhood will be a leading brand in the mother and child care segment. “We believe that we can be a global brand and hence, are also looking to build a presence outside India in the long term,” says he on a concluding note.


The healthcare industry is booming in India and there is a lot of money pouring in to fuel its growth. The rapid expansion will also mean that partners from other sectors such as the construction and medical equipment industry need to step up and provide the required support. 

The government, in turn, will need to look at this new entity of single specialty boutique centres as different subsets and provide sops to make it a viable initiative. 

The biggest drawback is the insurance industry which is held in a mafia-like grip by third party providers who do not seem to understand the difference between offers provided by hospitals like Motherhood and larger multi-specialty players or even small nursing homes. This lack of understanding or unwillingness to break the age old norm is what is holding back the growth in this segment. 


Motherhood Hospitals (Rhea Healthcare)

Founder: Dr. Mohammed Rehan Sayeed

Year: 2011

City: Bengaluru

Funding: US $15million from Peepul Capital


Medical and non-medical professionals, nursing staff in particular

Service and the ability to maintain the standards and work ethic across all centres

Willingness to make corrections quickly based on patient/doctor feedback

Transparency in billing and a seamless admission/ discharge procedure

Ambience and safety of facilities

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