An intentional choice of entrepreneurship is behind the rise and success of Kauvery Hospital. The new-age healthcare entity with roots in Tiruchirapalli, started as a 30-bed Kaveri Medical Centre in 1999.
It has been set up by first-generation doctors, who left the boiler town to pursue higher studies in various parts of the country and the world. The key promoters are Dr Aravindan Selvaraj, Dr S Manivannan and Dr S Chandra Kumar, who, realising the absence of a comprehensive healthcare in Trichy, decided to establish the hospital there.
“After completing our UG degree, we went to Pune, Ahmedabad and overseas for higher studies. Then, we came back to our native town, where we saw the need for a complete healthcare. That is what made us launch our first hospital. There were about seven doctors in the family specialising in various fields. Our primary focus was on care and the cost of providing it,” says Dr Manivannan, the Joint MD of the hospital. If humble beginnings started it all, operating in a tier-II location came with its own advantages.
“Our aim is to provide optimal care with optimal technology. Above all, personalised care – that is what I believe is our success mantra as a majority of the patients were known to our parents. The trust factor was important. Over time, we were able to build the hospital’s reputation,” says the doctor, who left his scalpel and gloves few years ago to don the garb of a full-fledged entrepreneur.
In 13 years’ time, changes took place. First, KMC transformed into Kauvery Hospital. The 30-bed centre became a 100-bed hospital offering specialised care and the acquisition of Sea Horse Hospital, a listed entity further fortified their healthcare identity and presence. “Our objective is to add every year a new speciality and about 100 beds in every two years. We saw that those suffering from acute heart attacks had no cath lab or angio facility to access. Thus, our first cardiac centre came up in 2004. We added a radiotherapy unit and four years later, we got our neurological operations established,” Dr Manivannan said.
The decision to enter Chennai also happened in 2011, with his brother and ortho specialist Aravindan Selvaraj, driving and steering the city operations. “If brands like Thalapakattu, RMKV or Murugan Idly have carved a niche for themselves here, so could we in the organised healthcare services space,” he said.
Today, the swanky 200-bed multi-specialty hospital is located in Alwarpet, the bustling nerve centre of the city. The hospital’s credentials built over the decade have led well-known personalities, including former CM M Karunanidhi to rely on the healthcare services of Kauvery Hospital. So, how did such a reputation get built? “Acquiring Sea Horse happened at a time, when recession had set in and the sensex was at a low of 7000. We were one of the countable healthcare enterprises that got private equity funding. Availability of tertiary care in tier II location impressed our investor – the Piramal Group,” recalls the doctor. If the challenge of setting up a hospital came in the form of land cost and manpower, Kauvery had to overcome the issue of brand perception that came after the acquisition of Sea Horse.
“We had to re-built the facility by renovating, technology upgradation and also changing the culture of the organisation. In two years, we gained traction,” he says. Kauvery Hospital as a brand is gaining visibility and acceptance, he says, quite at ease talking the lingo of business.
“Let’s face it. Healthcare, from being a practice, has evolved into a business. We can run it as a profit-making healthcare by optimising revenues. We do not need to make it a profiteering one. It is prudent for doctors to own hospitals. Servicing is a responsibility that is far more effective, when handled by the practitioners-turned-entrepreneurs,” says the doctor, who believes in delegation and nurturing leaders from within. Perhaps, that explains the recent 10-day Himalayan trek that he undertook without any trouble. “Our logo is a butterfly as our idea is to thrive on wellness.”
His tipping points for start-up folks or venture mindsets are, “there is no replacement for hard work; innovation is extremely important and it is possible to do ethical business.”