Rising real estate prices are likely to hit doctors the hardest! Do you see the connect doctors?

Any simple business which is dependent on ‘geography’ will have to worry about rising real estate prices. Let us take the example of a opthal, a dentist and a ‘General Practitioner’ – all 3 doctors. Assume for a minute that they are working out of a nice 1000 sq ft. dispensary. They would be feeling very ‘smart’ because they bought this property at a price of X when they started their lives but now it is worth say 75x.

For a fresh doc it is IMPOSSIBLE to be able to afford such a high price, and hence a new doc will not be able to come as a competitor to these doctors, right?

Well, well.

3 new ventures are started by a group of doctors and funded by a venture capitalist.

One is a ‘eye’ chain of dispensaries, hospitals, eye-care specs shops, ……This chain can afford to advertise, have multiple touch points, have small kiosks in malls for a check up and have a big hospital IN A CHEAPER suburb. Thus the typical complaints of customers – ‘Oh the doc is good, but there is no parking available near his dispensary’ etc. are now eliminated. Most of us do not know who is the cook in a restaurant where we eat, right?

Similarly the ‘touch points’ will engage with you. They will then recommend an appointment for you with a senior doc (at a slightly far away location, but with adequate parking), find the shop which will give you the specs…- thus offering a package deal. They will even be willing to come to your office, do a check up, give a lecture on ‘how to take care of your eye’ , give you a website wherein you can make your appointments, ask your questions, etc. then treat you near a ‘hospital’ near your office / home and send the bill to your company!

How many opthals, dentists, etc. can give this kinda service with their current knowledge of technology?

Now apply the same thing to the dentists profession – soon it can be made ‘doctor indifferent’ – completely replacing the ‘importance of the doctor’ to the ‘importance of the brand’.

Now for a brand like Apollo it found itself at the mercy of the GP and the specialist doctor. Solution? Now Apollo is creating 200- 500 sq. foot ‘clinics’ where you can walk in and MEET A GP of your choice. Fairly obvious if the process is controlled from there…you meet a Apollo GP, then a Apollo specialist, then Apollo hospital, then Apollo Chemist. If you are covered by Apollo medical insurance..

I think the era of the stand alone GP, dentist, opthal is soon coming to an end in places like Mumbai.

The doctor is not the only one who is responsible for this – it is the real estate prices playing havoc.

There seems to a  HUGE, HUGE opportunity of a group of  one CA, one doc and a VC to start the process – build a small unit of say 10 dentists, 10 opthals….etc and then sell off to a bigger chain!!

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  1. Suhail this was just waiting to happen, if not happened already. Next will be barbers, tution teachers, eating joints, …just a real estate arbitrage. I will stay in an expensive suburb, but seek services in a cheaper suburb with good parking facilities…:-)

  2. No wonder Hinduja’s are also taking note of that. When you can charge 6k for room rent in a ’boutique hospital’ and the Doctor’s reputation doesn’t matter why open Hotel? open a hospital instead 🙂

  3. “There seems to a HUGE, HUGE opportunity of a group of one CA, one doc and a VC to start the process – build a small unit of say 10 dentists, 10 opthals….etc and then sell off to a bigger chain!!”

    Yes, you are right. I know of a polyclinic run by a group of doctors who managed it for 20 years, then sold it to a businessman who will now run the hospital. All the doctors will continue to work in the same hospital.

    Yes, it is going to happen. In that case the doctor will be free to think only about his subject and patients rather than administrative headaches. A doctor then will have to be professionally employable rather than a good businessman – and a business oriented doctor can concentrate on running the hospital rather than profession – It happens is polyclinics.

    Just hope that on your follow up visits you are not directed to a ‘customer care department’ or when you call the hospital a recorded voice does not answer you with ‘press 1 if you are an registered patient, press 2 if you are a new patient, press 3 if you are having a heart attack…

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