DM Healthcare interview: Dr Azad Moopen

Having grown DM Healthcare into one of the Gulf’s biggest private healthcare providers, Azad Moopen is eyeing up more funding, India and a potential IPO

Dr Azad Moopen says that DM Healthcare is looking to expand aggressively not only in the immediate region, but possibly worldwide in the coming years

Dr Azad Moopen says that DM Healthcare is looking to expand aggressively not only in the immediate region, but possibly worldwide in the coming years

To date, much of DM Healthcare’s investment into India has been concentrated in Kerala, the state that Moopen himself calls home. He insists, though, that the group is eager to branch out into other parts of the country, although will likely avoid congested metropolitan areas like Delhi and Mumbai, which he says are oversaturated with existing healthcare providers.

Moopen explains that DM Healthcare has recently been in talks to purchase stakes in existing healthcare facilities in “tier two” Indian cities in the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. These cities include Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik and Baroda.

“Our strategy is to go into these cities, rather than into the metros (larger metropolitan areas such as Mumbai and Delhi), which already have the presence of large [healthcare] chains,” he adds.

The expansion will be based on forming joint ventures, rather than outright acquisitions. “Our plan is to have associations with existing doctor groups, who already own hospitals and who want to expand. For example, somebody who has a 50-bed hospital or a 100-bed hospital, if they want to add on another 200 beds, and if they are ready to give a majority stake to us, then we invest the money as well as the expertise, but they will be running it from the grassroots level.”

Moopen believes that much of the country of 1.2 billion is currently chronically underserved in terms of healthcare provisioning. “If you look at the market there is a gap between what is there and what is required,” he believes.

Moopen says that government spending on healthcare is currently far lower than that of first and second-world nations and so there is a substantial gap in the market for private healthcare providers such as his. “In developed countries, [healthcare is] between eight percent to ten percent of GDP being spent. In the BRIC countries and many developing countries it’s five percent to six percent, whereas in India it’s still only 1.8 percent,” he says.

Moopen expects that India will provide “one third to 40 percent” of DM Healthcare’s total revenues within the next five years. Presently, around 80 percent of the group’s turnover is derived from the GCC, with the remaining 20 percent coming from an existing network of Indian medical facilities and joint ventures in the south and west of the country.

Moopen tells Arabian Business that the company will hire 10,000 new employees over the next five years to accommodate this expansion. This will take DM Healthcare’s total headcount to more than 15,000 employees. The difficulty in attracting new talent, Moopen says, is what led the company to establish its DM Wayanad Institute of Medical Sciences in Kerala. Through the institute, DM Healthcare says it has moved from being a “consumer” of talent, to a “provider”. “This is actually a major challenge, getting people. Getting doctors, down to paramedical staff, to the level of even nurses, it’s becoming increasingly difficult,” Moopen believes.

Moopen says that he would like to see DM Healthcare eventually expand its network beyond the borders of the GCC and India, although at present there are no finalised plans to do so.

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