Quality eye care, our mantra: Country Head-Vasan Healthcare

4 September 2013 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Ishan Sheriffdeen
Vasan Eye Care Hospital, the world’s largest network of eye care hospitals that comes under the wings of India’s flagship Vasan Healthcare Group commenced operations in Sri Lanka this year, bringing the next-generation of super-specialisation in ophthalmology. In an interview with Daily Mirror, Shivan Nithianandan, Vice President- Operations Vasan Healthcare Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Sri Lanka spoke about its scale of operations, uniqueness, expansion plans and much more. Excerpts:



Can you explain the beginnings of your company?
Vasan commenced operations in India in1947. It started-off with a single pharmacy in Trichy and started spreading its wings in the 50s and 60s opening more pharmacies across India. In 2002, Vasan started its first eye care hospital in Tamil Nadu. From 2002 to-date, we have set up170+ eye hospitals and also acquired two multi-speciality hospitals in India and also ventured into the dental field and currently own over 50 dental clinics. By the end of the year, the group plans to have 200 eye care centres in India and abroad.

Vasan is considered the world’s largest eye-care hospital network. Tell me about the scale of operations and its international presence.

Vasan has been certified as the “World’s Largest Eye Care provider with the maximum number of stand-alone surgical centres” in 2011 by Frost & Sullivan. Today in India on an average 30,000 patients walk in every day. So far over 20 million patients have been treated at Vasan Eye Care hospitals across India and over 5 million procedures have been completed, which means every minute at Vasan, 5 new people discover the joy of clear vision.

We have opened a super speciality eye care centre in Dubai, and in the coming months the 2nd hospital in Dubai would be opened. By next year, we plan to open more hospitals in Sri Lanka, Sharjah, Muscat & Abu Dhabi.




What made Vasan to establish presence in Sri Lanka?  
For a population of over 20 million, Sri Lanka has very few eye care hospitals. Therefore, we felt that we could definitely make a difference to the people of Sri Lanka by providing quality eye care, providing quality treatments at affordable cost.

We had to establish our hospitals in India before we stepped into the international markets.




When did Vasan begin operations in Colombo? How has been business so far?
Our commercial operations began in May this year. There had been a test run from January to May where the facility was tested, and free services were provided for those who walked in.

On average, we receive about 150 patients for a day and quite satisfied over the manner in which things are moving. This centre is actually scaled to treat around 300 patients per day and we are confident that this number could be reached in the near future.





What is the total investment in Sri Lanka?  When do you’ll hope to break-even?
We have invested without compromising on the quality of equipments. All the latest equipments have been installed to give the best of eye care to the people. Break even should happen in 4 to 5 years



.
What is unique about Vasan’s services?
Vasan’s USP is CARE. We treat every patient who walks in as a part of our family and give them the utmost care and treatment. We do not make them feel that they have come to a hospital for treatment.

Unlike any other hospital in Sri Lanka, Vasan is a super-speciality eye care hospital where we focus only on eye care. All facilities are provided under one roof. We have all the equipment required for a patient to do his/her tests, investigations, surgeries etc. The hospital’s latest state-of-the-art medical diagnostic & intervention capability is one of the best in Sri Lanka.

Our expertise spans across 38 eye care specialities including Cataract Services, Refractive Surgery Services, Cornea Services, Glaucoma Services, Retina Services, Paediatric Ophthalmology and Squint Services, Oculoplasty Services, UVEITIS, Vision Rehabilitation Services, Computer Vision Syndrome Clinic, Contact Lenses, Optical Services etc.





Was this ‘super-speciality eye care’, a model emulated from the West?
No, this is our own concept founded, proved and tested by our Chairman, Dr. A.M. Arun.  




Do you’ll cater purely to the high-end segment?
No. Our packages are very affordable. We are targeting everybody and not just one particular segment.




What are your thoughts about the Sri Lankan healthcare sector?
There is always lot of potential and scope for improvement. It’s good to see private sector hospitals expanding their operations to other parts of the country. Healthcare is something that shouldn’t be limited to certain areas.




Any comments about the state of eye care services here?
I would say that the eye care segment in Sri Lanka is quite satisfactory. We have scope for improvement.




 Is there competition for Vasan Eye Care Hospitals here and overseas?
Every hospital has their own USP’s and plus points. We would not like to call anybody a competitor and we do not want to compete with anyone for that matter. Our single motto is to provide quality eye care for the patients at affordable cost.




Do you’ll obtain service of the parent company in running the Colombo centre?
This is completely a Sri Lankan-run operation. All the doctors and staff are Sri Lankan.




Are Vasan services covered under local insurance schemes?
Yes, we have tied-up with major insurance companies and have provided special packages to them.




In terms of expansion, what plans for Sri Lanka?
We are looking to expand with 3-4 hospitals targeting certain areas in the North, East and Kandy. Our plan is to have at least two more hospitals up and running during the next 6 months. Hambantota too is on the cards.




How’s the expansion funded?
Recently the Singapore government, through the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) infused US$ 100 million into the parent company, Vasan Eye Care India.  It’s the first investment by the Singapore government in a private sector organization.

Big-time private equity company Sequoia Capital that has stakes in Google, Yahoo & Apple etc, too invested approximately US$ 30 million in Vasan.




Do you think the present environment in Sri Lanka is conducive for doing business?
Yes. We see lot of new foreign investments coming in particularly to the hospitality sector. The conditions for business seem quite healthy at the moment.
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