Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld spoke to Sunil Khurana, CEO & Managing Director, BPL Medical Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore to know more about the existing challenges in the Medical Device Market. Edited excerpts:
Medical Device Market
Medical device itself is a something which needs to be understood- even consumables, very high end medical electronic products are seen as a medical devices. I feel, for the last several years there has been a very good growth happening in that space. In 1993-1994-1995 timeframe only 3 or 4 MRIs use to come in our country. Now the market has gone up and about 300-350 MRI’s are being installed in a year. So the market has really grown big time. There is a lot of thought by the people on going for a preventive health check-up and that is where it has a huge scope and my view is that even today bed ratios are still very low as compared to other developing nations like China where they have more than 3 beds per thousand population. We are sitting at 1.3-1.4 beds per thousand and these are continuously improving because there is participation by a lot of corporate houses, lot of nursing homes are coming up, government is also investing and as we know Ayushman Bharat is going to further fuel the growth big time.
When number of beds increases, everything will increase and medical device is no exception and that is where you will see proportionate growth of medical device happening. In my view, the next 20 years will be a double digit healthy growth.
Medical Device Manufacturing Challenges
Medical device manufacturing is a very interesting. India faces huge issue on the R&D side, very few institutes collaborate with the medical device companies the way it is run in the western countries and then they help to bring a lot of new technologies which are implemented and manufactured in India. The government needs to bring strict curriculum to IITs, attach these institutes with companies who have a lot of aspirations to make big in India. On the R&D side, you really have a problem because it is not well supported and you take a couple of products and unless it reaches a level for commercialisation you try to copy which is not the right way. So R&D is one challenge.
Skilled Manpower is second challenge which I see very clearly, so these two areas if addressed then I think Indian medical manufacturing sector will see a boom.
BPL Journey so far
BPL started the medical devices somewhere in 1967. So it is well over 50 years now and BPL was the first company to make a medical device in India, the first manufacturer of the medical equipments like ECG and couple of those monitors at that point and time. We kept our focus only to some of those products but 5 years back, those investments from Goldman Sachs in BPL. This inception happened in August 2013 and we are just coming close to 5 years time. We have added lot of verticals now. We have added radiology, where we are now manufacturing X-ray machines, we have ultrasounds and we have also added critical care and in that space we felt that anaesthesia has a big business and is a very needed product in all the hospitals…
BPL as Differentiator
Our clear philosophy is that selling is very simple. You can sell a product and move on. We feel that products have to be maintained very well so our focus on service is key. We have the best distribution when it comes to medical device distribution side. We have our distributors probably in every corner of India and through these we train our distributor’s team to sell and service both. In a very efficient way we make the product up and that is what differentiates us.
BPL Future plans
Considering that India has a huge and overall income levels are going up we know that healthcare overall space is going to become very big. Today in India about $1.5 billion business is done for diagnostic imaging versus total global, it is more like a $50 billion so what it means is that we are doing about 2% of global business whereas our population is more like a 15 percent. So if everything is equal you have an opportunity to go from 2% to 16%. We want to bring a lot of technologies.
In Make in India, remove those frills which are not needed, bring products which are more affordable and we have also observed that in every country there are couple of good local companies who have done very well. We are very confident that in the years to come we should be the number 1 medical equipment company in India. We don’t want to restrict us only in India, we are also trying to set up our overseas division so overall making in India versus bringing something which is made outside will definitely be a better preposition to look at these products.