NRIs can now get home health care for relatives in India

US company Bayada ties up with IHHC in India.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Home care for the elderly, already a big business in the US, is hoping to expand into another potentially huge market: India.

Bayada Home Health Care, a US-based home health care provider, has acquired a 26% stake in India Home Health Care (IHHC) in Chennai. It is the company’s first investment in a company outside of the US in its nearly 40-year history, although last year, they did open an office in Hyderabad.

The IHHC was created in 2009 by V. Thiyagarajan and Sameer Mehta. It employs about 200 nurses and caretakers in Chennai and Bangalore. On the other hand, Bayada HHC is based in New Jersey, with 250 locations spread across 25 states in the US, and employs over 18,000 workers – these workers include nurses, doctors, therapists, home health aides, and other medical occupations.

The eventual goal of Bayada’s stake in IHHC – according to Thiyagarajan, who is also the IHHC founder and managing director – is to buy out IHHC completely. Not that Thiyagarajan minds. In fact, he’s openly receptive to the idea, saying that Bayada has the ability and experience to help IHHC, and the Indian home health care industry as a whole, grow at an incredibly fast rate that would otherwise be impossible.

Although the international home health care industry is hugely successful – some estimates say that it will be a $300 billion industry by 2018 – India’s own home health care industry is hovering around $2 billion. Additionally, Bayada will be able to help IHHC by providing better training for its healthcare workers, such as how to deal with cancer patients and children with special needs.

The IHHC is aiming to have revenues of Rs. 30 crore by the 2016 fiscal year, in addition to growing its patient count from 200 per day to 2,000. It also plans to expand into five new cities by that time, such as Hyderabad and Pune.

In an exclusive e-mail interview with The American Bazaar, Dr. Anitha Arockiasamy – the president of IHHC – discussed the partnership with Bayada, what the specifics of their joint venture entail, and what their goals for the future are.

What prompted Bayada to expand into India? How did they first reach out to IHHC, and what made a partnership with Bayada so attractive?

With the Indian economy advancing and its demographics changing – i.e. with the population aging and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases in India – more and more people are seeking professional home health care. As a company with almost 40 years of experience in providing compassionate, excellent and reliable home health care, Bayada understands the need for similar services in India. They had started an office on their own in Hyderabad. However, it was not successful and they contacted us to understand what we do. The senior management team of Bayada visited our offices in Bangalore and Chennai, as part of their due diligence. This helped them to understand that we have similar values and beliefs and have a business model which is almost the same as theirs but tweaked to the Indian context. They also saw a great fit with our management team.

It’s been reported that IHHC plans to expand to five cities and 2,000 patients by 2016 — how do you plan to do this? What cities in particular do you plan to expand into? How many employees will you require for this? How much is this expansion plan going to cost?

The prerequisite for us to enter new cities is a good team. As soon as we find a team of people with good credentials that share our value, we will start in that city. Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai are some of the cities we are interested in. We will require about 2,500 field staff for our expansion, which we will secure through our relationship with institutions and colleges. We are establishing home health as an alternate career choice for nurses.

Will the home healthcare plans be available to all Indians, or only the families of NRIs, since Bayada is an American company?

Home health care is available to everyone. However, we do have a specific NRI package which is a comprehensive health check-up package for parents and relatives of NRIs, who live in India. This includes regular visits by doctors and nurses to continuously monitor the health status of the elders living on their own and dispense appropriate medical advice as required.

Will home healthcare be covered by Indian insurance, or will people have to pay out of pocket for this? What kinds of prices are you expecting to charge?

Unfortunately, home health care is not covered by insurance in India. People pay out of pocket. Prices range from INR 20,000 to INR 70,000 per month for the different care packages. The NRI package is priced between USD 20 to USD 40, depending on the services required in the package.

How will the Bayada business model in the US differ from the model that will be used in India?

We have very similar operational models and we provide similar services. The major difference is the payer. In the US, home health is covered by insurance and in India, it is not.

Now that there are plans to build senior centers for Indians in India, what about senior citizen NRIs in America? Are there any plans for Indian-American senior citizen homes/centers?

We do not have any plan to build senior centers. Our service is focused on the client at home, who requires our care.

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