RP Khandelwal, CMD, HLL Lifecare, in a wide-ranging interview, talks about the transformation of HLL Lifecare from a condom manufacturing company to a full – fledged healthcare delivery company, in an interaction with Prathiba Raju
What major works have been undertaken by HLL Lifecare since its inception?
HLL Lifecare is a Miniratna company, which started manufacturing condom in 1966. We implemented Government of India’s family welfare programme and soon we started manufacturing an entire range of contraceptives. We then diversified into hospital management products viz blood bags, stents, diagnostic kits – pregnancy test kits, malaria test kits. We forayed into the pharma sector by introducing oral contraceptive pills and acquired Go Antibiotics, which as a pharma unit produces generic medicines and antibiotics.
HLL Lifecare also entered into service segment and became a full fledged healthcare delivery company. We provide project management consultancy for construction and upgradation of hospitals, medical colleges and labs. Right now, we have Rs 10,000 crore-worth project in our kitty. We were instrumental in setting up six AIIMS and constructing three new AIIMS in Bathinda, Gorakhpur and Guwahati. HLL also has seven manufacturing units. We are the national procurement agency for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW). We procure high-end medical equipment for central institutes like AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER) and all major state government institutes. We have biomedical services, deliberation, training, testing of all medical equipment. HLL Lifecare also provides facility management services like housekeeping, catering, laundry of the medical institution.
What kind of challenges did you face while setting up AIIMS?
Right from procuring land, we faced a lot of challenges. Though it is a government land, there were encroachment issues which we had to clear and from then each step needed approvals. Getting municipal approval for the architecture, green tribunals litigation are few of the issues we faced during the planning stage. Apart from these, getting the right contractor is a biggest challenge. We give preference to professionals like L&T, Ahluwalia Constructions and Shapoorji Pallonji. It takes 18 to 24 months to construct a project. Being a procurement consultant and simultaneously taking care of the installation of equipment, HLL Lifecare synchronises the work. For example, by the time buildings are built, we get ready with the equipment to be installed. In order to monitor various construction projects, a new software Primavera software has been installed and we have video conference facility as well.
How HLL Lifecare is different from all other Project Management Consultants (PMC)?
HLL Lifecare is different from all other PMCs like HSCC, NBCC India, as we have a complete range of infrastructure facility, facility management and added to it, we have a big team of biomedical engineers. We not only construct buildings, but also equip and assure to maintain the building for over 10 years. It makes a lot of difference compared to other companies as they look only after construction, whereas we provide a comprehensive consultancy. Four years back, the Health Secretary of MoH&FW suggested that whoever constructs the building should maintain it for five years but it was just a guideline and was not made mandatory.
What is the status of the three AIIMS which are under construction?
The three AIIMS in Gorakhpur, Bathinda and Guwahati are designed in built-run model. We have just started and in the process of appointing an architect. Once the design is approved, we will identify the contractor. It will take around six months to start the construction and to construct it will take 18 months. To make it fully functional as a medical college, it will take three years. Already HLL has constructed six AIIMS as in-house consultants. The building of AIIMS pan India is an initiative to bring in the tertiary healthcare facilities to the doorstep of the people. It will fill the healthcare gaps as it will have state-of-the-art facilities and best doctors available in the state level. Apart from it, we are upgrading the medical colleges under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) so they are at par with AIIMS. In Phase I and II, six medical colleges were upgraded, under Phase III, 12 medical colleges will be upgraded. The government wants to provide facilities of super speciality hospitals by upgrading these medical colleges.
What is the status of free diagnostics projects taken up by HLL Lifecare in Maharashtra and Assam?
In two states, Maharashtra and Assam, we are running the free diagnostic programme. In Maharashtra, we will establish 112 labs — 51 major labs, 61 mini labs and one major reference labs. We will have 2300 centres which will cover Primary Health Centres (PHC) in 33 districts. We have already set up 18 labs and by the end of July, all the labs will be operational. In Assam, we have set up 10 labs, 1000 centres will be covered, which will be operational by the end of July. The project will be monitored on a real-time basis by IT-enabled systems, which will track the details of patients’ samples collected from the collection centre to the lab for testing and reporting. Anybody who requires any diagnostic test can approach these centres and conduct their test for free, as the expense will be borne by the state government. It is a National Health Mission (NHM)-related project. Through a tendering process, HLL Lifecare competed with private players like Dr Lal Pathlabs, Thyrocare, Metropolis,and was able to bag the project. It comprises an entire range of pathological tests. The cost is low and by paying only Rs 199, one can do any number of test. We will receive the the payment from the state government on per patient basis and not per test. So, the idea is to reduce the out of pocket expenses. HLL Lifecare is also starting Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) in Assam this month.
Can you give us details about the project where sanitary napkin vending machines and its incinerators are installed in government and aided schools. As per your experience, which state government is at the forefront when it comes to healthcare-related projects?
HLL Lifecare’s VENDIGO is a sanitary napkin vending machine, which is a state-of-the-art, fully automated and electronic machine. Its unique features will dispense napkin (pack of three pads) on the press of a button. They are also installed in government offices where they have been priced at Rs 10. A pack can be available on inserting a Rs 10 note or coins of Rs 1, 5 and 10. We have installed the machines in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. We are approaching various state governments to install these machines in schools, colleges, offices, hospitals and hostels for women and girls. They are also promoting safe and environment-friendly disposal of used napkin pads by providing sanitary napkin incinerators.
Healthcare being a state subject, it depends on the state chief minister and health ministers. Headquartered in Kerala, we do a lot of programmes for the state. Apart from it, Assam, Maharashtra, of late Uttar Pradesh, has shown interest in setting up such facilities.
HLL Lifecare is also into industrial production and commercialisation of three medical devices -Blood/ IV fluid warning system, a thermo regulated infant warming bassinet and thermo regulated infant warming wrapper. So, how will it help the general public and particularly paediatric medical services?
HLL Lifecare will take into industrial production and commercialisation of the three medical devices – Blood/IV fluid warning system, a thermo regulated infant warming bassinet, and thermo regulated infant warming wrapper. We have signed the technology transfer agreement with Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTMST). We have to commercialise the devices andwill set up a unit in Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) or in Chengelpet (Tamil Nadu).
What is the status of the Medipark project, the first manufacturing cluster in the medical technology sector in the country in Chengelpet (Tamil Nadu)?
The Cabinet approval for the medipark project came only six months back and we had immediately applied for environmental clearance. We are expecting to get the clearance in the month of July. The medipark will be set up in 330 acres in plug and play model. The advantage of this land is that it has water, power, road availability and we just need to develop the park. The master plan is already prepared. We will have a common knowledge park, incubation and testing facilities will be set-up. We are also in talks with Drug Controller General (India) (DCGI) to open theiroffice as it will be accessible for for domestic and international companies. As per the Cabinet order, the project should be completed in three phases in seven years. The Phase I will be completed in three years, Phase II – three years and Phase III – two years. The development cost of the medipark is Rs 160 crore. The entrepreneurs who wants to set up will be charged by per acre, so we can recover our cost.
The facility will also have a vaccine complex. The project is coming up under HLL Biotechnology, a subsidiary company. Nearly 100 acres will be given to the integrated vaccine complex. The idea is to take care of the universal immunisation programme of the Government of India. Pentavalent, rabies, measles, hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV), JE and BCG vaccines will be produced. The validation and clinical process is going on and the first vaccine is likely to be out by April 2018 and most of the vaccines will be out by 2020. The budget for vaccine complex is around Rs 710 crore.