The Covid-19 pandemic has had unprecedented repercussions on healthcare service delivery. Despite the difficulties, Nephroplus, an Indian dialysis service provider, is on a growth path. Vikram Vuppala, Founder and CEO is braving the challenge as his start-up continues to thrive.
At a time, when most hospitals downed their shutters and revenues took major hit, dialysis services continued to function. “Dialysis is an essential service so we were not significantly hit, but the travel restrictions, lockdown and curfew resulted in 5-7 % decrease in volume of the dialysis done,” said Vuppala. In fact, many of the hospitals were not functioning at all until a few weeks back; and the hospitals out-patient consult and in-patient volumes are just starting to improve. “Our operations are recovering fast, volumes are slowly going up. But, what we saw, is nothing compared to how other hospitals and services have been facing at the revenue front or service and operations front,” Vuppala said.
Nephroplus is Growing
About six months back, at the tail end of 2019, Nephroplus raised a big ticket investment (INR 316 Cr) from Bahrain based Investcorp. The funds were earmarked for expansion and growth in Indian as well as overseas market.
In India, the dialysis providers has grown from strength-to-strength utilising all service models. From independent centers to partnerships to government projects. “We are doing 1.5lakh dialysis per month highest among all dialysis providers in India. We have 207 centers in 122 cities across 22 states,” says Vuppala. “Recently, we have signed PPP projects with Bihar state government, we will run 19 centers in Bihar,” he adds. This is in addition to the 45 centers run in the government space, through projects with state governments like in Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The company is gearing up to launch a mobile dialysis van to facilitate access of dialysis to patients who are unable to travel and are affected by lockdown. “Now we are launching mobile dialysis van in NCR and within a month we will launch in 5-6 select cities. Small cities will happen later on,” Vuppala shared.
“Based on the feedback from our guests (the company calls its patients guests) and partner nephrologists, NephroPlus has designed a custom ambulance service which will go to the guest home and provide dialysis services inside our ambulance. This custom ambulance is fitted with our dialysis machine, a recliner and RO water set up so that all requirements to provide quality dialysis are met,” he shared.
“In the current Covid situation, this will help reduce the chances of infection arising from guests traveling to dialysis centers. In addition, we will also help Covid positive dialysis patients, access dialysis in these tough times,” Vuppala said.
The company has been in talks with stakeholders for growth in the International market. “The plans for Nephroplus international business are in works. However, because of the current Covid pandemic, the plans may have been delayed a bit but nothing major. All the work is happening remotely and there is not much disruption due to Covid restrictions,” Vuppala shares.
“We are looking to expand to the South East Asian market and we will soon acquire a dialysis provider with a small network in this region and scale it up,” Vuppala revealed.
According to a recent market report, Asia Pacific region is one of the major revenue-generating regions in the hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis market. “China, India, and Japan are the major countries responsible for the high growth of this regional market owing to factors such as the increasing per capita income, improving healthcare infrastructure, and supportive government activities in these emerging countries. Furthermore, the increasing geriatric population, the growing incidence of ESRD, and the rising acceptance of home hemodialysis ad peritoneal dialysis are also driving the growth of this regional market,” the report said.