Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan | Be Well Hospitals
Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan – Chairman and Managing Director of Be Well Hospitals - is helping India’s Healthcare Delivery Model take a long overdue leap forward : By adding the missing piece of robust and affordable secondary care to the tertiary and primary framework.
Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan is the Chairman and Managing Director of BE WELL hospitals, a pioneering network of multispecialty hospitals founded in 2011 with a focus on Emergency care, Multispecialty care & Preventive care.
Be Well Group of Hospitals is establishing a new order of healthcare delivery in the country to ensure that accessible, affordable and quality care is easily available to all. To that end, the Group has been setting up best-in-class hospitals across the southern region of India with world-class infrastructure - with a focus on locations that are handicapped with limited access to all round healthcare. Within a short span of time, ten BeWell multispecialty hospitals have been set up to serve semi-urban and rural populations in the state of Tamil Nadu. Along the journey, the institution has been steadily winning the trust of patients and partners with its commitment to care, accurate diagnosis and recommendations, ethical practices, transparent pricing policies and innovative patient education initiatives. Some of the standout feathers in Be Well’s cap today are 28 cutting-edge specialities, 24-Hour Neighborhood Emergency Support (“Quick care is good care”, the Group firmly believes) and over 5 lac happy families.
Helming the movement is Chairman and Managing Director Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan. Capturing the passion behind his ‘life’s work’ which is blossoming beautifully, Dr. Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan says, “The driving factor behind Be Well is the vision of providing Accessible, Affordable and Quality healthcare to people when they need it most. Our Indian healthcare system is unique with a large Public health system and a parallel Private health system. Our private health system is quite unorganised with varied structure from primary care to 5 bed hospital to 1000 or 2000 bed hospital/teaching institution. The dream of establishing an organized, mid-size ( 50 to 75 bed hospitals) network - with one hospital in every district headquarter – is my big dream and ultimate goal, the one that makes me wake up every morning and look forward to another fruitful and fulfilling day.” It is a plan that is as noble as it is ambitious, and holds the potential to upend the foundations of healthcare as we know it. Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan agrees, “I am certain that such an organized network, once established, will disrupt the way healthcare is being delivered by revolutionizing access, affordability and quality - for everyone.”
The concept of the Be Well model is sustaining the affordable model for patients who seek medical care in multi specialty domain compared to larger brands on value proposition and also in terms of ambience and clinical treatment. The idea is that patients need not gravitate to the ‘lure of the big brand’ for small surgical and medical managements, thus draining their pockets. These medical treatments are available with Be well at very affordable cost and at their local vicinity .
Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan’s mission is on its way to fruition, one new foundation stone at a time. The mammoth network (718 hospitals with a total bed capacity of app 45000), once complete, will pave the way to a ‘truly democratic’ template of healthcare that is driven by a trifecta of futuristic tech processes, unique payer-payee models and innovative Public-Private partnerships.
Born in the town of Sivakasi (Called as the Mini Japan of India) in South Tamil Nadu, Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan completed schooling in Sivakasi, and was the first member from his family to get admission by merit into Stanley Medical College of Chennai. Post his college education, the young man travelled the world extensively to gain training and experience in Orthopaedics, visiting countries like Maldives, Ireland, Australia, Germany and Switzerland. He also obtained a Diploma program in Hospital Management from Royal College of Ireland during this phase. With nearly a decade of overseas training under his belt, Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan returned to India to pursue his lifelong dream of doing something for his motherland. His professional journey in India started in Apollo Hospitals where he spent 9 illustrious and eventful years, parallely adding new dimensions to his professional resume with an M.Phil. degree in Hospital Management from BITS Pilani.
What was the big turning point / eureka moment that put a ‘ding’ in his universe (in the words of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs) and transformed his quest? Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan travels back in time to locate the ‘Tipping-points’ that have influenced his evolution as he shares, “While working in Apollo as Chief Operating officer of their Global Projects and Consultancy division, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to study, from up-close, the A to Z process of setting up hospitals - and getting them operational - that was being followed in the country at the time. I was also exposed to the plight of patients who seek holistic and all-round solutions to their healthcare needs, sometimes travelling long distances (like North East Into all the way to Chennai) in its pursuit. Unfortunately, they don’t always find what they had set out for. It was fascinating for me to see that the top of the pyramid spectrum population was being served with ease while the middle pyramid was stretching their resources to access these brands. That’s when it dawned on me that there is a clear space – indeed, a clarion call - to establish a brand to the middle of the pyramid spectrum.”
Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan didn’t just diagnose this gaping ‘need gap’ in the sector accurately, but has dedicated his life to addressing and filling it. He continues to elaborate his work, “The big lacuna in the Indian Private healthcare delivery model is that below the branded tertiary hospitals (such as Apollo, Fortis, Max, Manipal and others which embody the highest levels of quality featuring brilliant professionals and best-of-breed infrastructure systems), there is this huge unorganised network of nursing homes and care centres with no clear quality compliances - or brand awareness - that can motivate the masses to contact them quickly and effortlessly in times of need. People without adequate reach or funds feel haplessly left out of a system like this – one that can seem to be designed only for the ‘Haves’ and not the ‘Have-nots’. This gap - between the two ends of the spectrum - is where Be Well aims to create a disruption.”
Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan’s big vision is to be the ‘SMALL GIANT’ neighbourhood hospital that is always at an arm’s length away with a wide and thoughtful range of services and solutions offered round the clock. The idea is to position Be Well as a 'Secondary Plus’s brand that completes the unaddressed jigsaw in the country’s healthcare. By delivering world class care and cure at 1/3th its current costs – along with a ‘humane’ approach that brings the marginalized under the umbrella - Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan’s idea could well be a sparkling game changer, and a much needed shot in the arm for the nation’s aspirations of ‘local excellence’ and self-sufficiency in every sense.
We are naturally curious: What were the setbacks Dr. Vetrievel Chocanathan and his teams has had to overcome to set his grand dream in motion - and what were the wisdoms and learnings gained along the process?
The Idea Leader reflects on the headwinds that he has had to face along the journey before saying, “Like all startups, we faced the standard setbacks of Capital and Manpower, along with challenges in Statutory and Compliance areas. So everytime we wanted to expand in our early days, we followed an optimized, Asset-Light model. We refrained from investing funds in land and building and instead went the renting and leasing way. Thanks to a dedicated and supportive ‘founding team’, so to speak, we were fortunate and able to overcome all these early setbacks.”
Positivity is contagious and Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan’s conviction soon found resonance in his investors who were now beginning to back him more and more. As he puts it, “The first hospital structure began with own earnings. However, we were fortunate enough to be spotted by Venture Capitalist within six months of our operation and have been funded for our growth ever since.”
The learnings for Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan and his partners and teams have been deep, and can largely be broken down into three buckets. First: They could tide over all setbacks only if they could manage scale (expansion) well. Hence their focus had been to “get the fundamentals right and plan for fast expansion”. Second: They realized early-on in the growth curve that skill training for staff was paramount to be able to maintain top-of-the-line quality standards. To address this critical area, the team promptly institutionalized a full-time, in-house training academy which runs continuous on-the-job training programs. Third - and perhaps most significantly - Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan big ‘takeaway’ from his life-altering experience is that there is no substitute for patience. As the man underlines it, “We need to be patient when building any new model. It takes a big heart to build a large organisation. Never compromise on any of the critical pillars of your venture – be it vision, model, compliances or corporate governance – especially in the initial days. Face it all head-on and get it right from Day One, and your chances of success will multiply exponentially.”
Priceless insights that can easily double up as a compass and point of reference for today’s rising crop of entrepreneurs who tend to put hustle and speed over a well thought out vision that is pursued with dedication and patience.
So how would he like to be remembered? What would he want his legacy to healthcare be? The doctor’s submission to the enquiry is humble, candid and profound at once: “I would like to be remembered for the change – no matter how small – which we believe we ushered in the affordable healthcare space. Our unique capital-efficient 50 to 75 bed hospital network has become the preferred window for diagnosis and treatment for the general public. Whenever in need, all they have to give us a call and all their healthcare needs will be taken care of. Whenever appropriate, we also refer patients up the ladder to the right tertiary care destination to ensure continuity in care.”
Dr Vetrievel Chocanathan shares spontaneously, “India’s Healthcare is unique and we have to innovate to un-wind and reboot our delivery model from tertiary (big brands) to secondary (Be Well) and Primary (Doctors clinic), and take a big leap into preventive and wellness care. Life is Beautiful and we should learn the fine art of health balancing to cherish every second of it. Be Well.”
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