Dubai-based social enterprise KEF Holdings has recently forayed into the Indian healthcare space. It has launched its first hospital — MEITRA Hospital in Kerala and working towards establishing its next hospital project in Coimbatore. Faizal E Kottikollon, Founder and Chairman, KEF Holdings, explains the company’s plans for India
Tell us about KEF Holdings and its offering across India, the Middle East and Singapore.
KEF Holdings is a diversified holding company with operations in the United Arab Emirates, India and Singapore. We use the latest technology across our primary businesses: infrastructure and healthcare to provide innovative solutions to challenging problems in these sectors, transforming human lives and the world around us. We also have a strong investment arm that invests in technology and developing markets.
Our focus is to build sustainable businesses that improve the quality of life of people and communities. One of our fastest growing verticals is KEF Infra, an offsite manufacturing company, aiming to transform the sector through strategic integration of automation and robotics and tools such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), for manufacturing hospitals, schools, hotels and homes. Last year, we opened the world’s first and largest fully integrated end-to-end offsite manufacturing plant – KEF Infra One Industrial Park in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu.
Why did you choose to foray into healthcare and what are the opportunities?
In India, the number of healthcare facilities is severely disproportionate to the size of the population. The country has only 1.3 hospital beds per 1,000 people, which is significantly lower than the 3.5 beds defined by the World Health Organization. This is mainly because of the high costs and time that is taken to build healthcare facilities. Also, the quality of facilities in India is below global standards. We believe there is an opportunity to change this, and are bringing better quality healthcare, faster to India through the catalogue hospitals concept. We are pioneering a reliable solution to meet the healthcare needs of India’s fast-growing population.
Were there any entry barriers that you experienced?
We did not face any significant barriers while entering the sector. However, the healthcare model we were introducing was unique and new to India, even though it is something that is being practiced widely in the western markets. We had to build a case study and showcase to the Indian market how we had successfully adopted this to cater to India’s needs. MEITRA Hospital our first hospital has gone a long way in dispersing any questions about our model and its remarkable success in a short time has played a prominent role to gain confidence in stakeholders across India’s healthcare segment.
What are the current issues in healthcare infrastructure sector and how will you cater to it?
The main challenge is the gap between the supply and demand. India’s existing infrastructure is not enough to cater to the growing demand. Many factors are contributing to this, for instance, the time and cost taken to build and deliver competent facilities. We can address this gap by our ‘catalogue approach.’ We offer a catalogue of standardised modular designs, complying with standards set by the Joint Commission International – an international healthcare accreditation service. Our catalogue hospitals range from small 15-bed to 500-bed facilities, with the number of pre-designed modules changing based on customer requirements. Thus, as per the requirement, we can set up structures in one-third of the cost and time as compared to traditional building methods.
We have collaborated with Total Alliance Health Partners International (TAHPI) which has designed more than 250 healthcare facilities around the world to develop the Catalogue Hospital Format. Our formats are based on the three principles of standardisation, industrialisation and commoditisation, leading to cost – benefits in delivery, maintenance, operations and sustainability of the healthcare facility. We have developed 50 functional planning units, as well as 500 unique rooms types – each fully specified, pre-designed and engineered with multiple permutations that can be used to manufacture hospitals of any size or specialisation in 50 per cent lesser time than traditional construction.
A good example of our work and expertise is MEITRA Hospital. Using offsite building technology, we manufactured the world-class 400,000 sq ft hospital within 18 months. 100 per cent of the design, by Australian Design firm, TAHPI, and 70 per cent of the manufacturing was completed offsite, at KEF Infra’s factory at Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu using the latest technology in offsite construction.
KEF Infra has successfully bridged the gap between architecture, engineering and technology while reducing considerable environmental impact. We are set to define the future of healthcare facilities manufactured in India.
Whom do you consider as your competitor?
This is a new and unique concept, and we do not have direct competition from other players in the market.
What value proposition does MEITRA Hospital offers and how is it different from its competitors?
At MEITRA Hospital, we bring hope and healing together, with a team of world-class leading medical professionals, cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art IT systems, like independent ICU’s fitted with automated Draeger monitoring system where doctors can monitor patients from anywhere in the world, and a fully integrated unit dose system in the pharmacy. MEITRA Hospital enjoys an entirely paperless environment, and all records are digitally maintained to offer the best care.
In the Indian context, a visit to the hospital is often an unpleasant experience for the patient and their family. At MEITRA, we have addressed this aspect by working at every touch point, to create a comforting experience not just for the patient, but for the family and bystander(s) as well. We are delivering the best possible experience at an affordable cost, the model is data-driven and standardises clinical care at the point of care setting. This helps in eliminating variance, improve outcomes, enhance the patient experience and reduce the average length of stay (ALOS).
Spread across, 6.5 acre of lush green landscape, and 400,000 sq ft area, MEITRA is a super specialty hospital, with Centres of Excellence in heart and vascular, bone and joint, neuroscience, urology and gastroenterology. The hospital has the capacity for over 500 beds, launching in two phases (Phase 1, 209 Beds is complete) it also has seven state-of-the-art operation theatres, 52 individual intensive care suites, 28 consulting rooms and six emergency units.
Our vision with MEITRA Hospital is to create a globally recognised healthcare delivery system, with a superior patient experience and the best possible clinical outcomes, integrated with transparent and ethical business practices.
Explain to us your strategy to sustain and grow your healthcare business in the long run?
MEITRA Hospital is an excellent example of our capability, and because of the success of the project, we are already receiving interest from markets across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East regions. Within India, we are currently developing other projects in the healthcare space.
We expect to see a plenty of opportunity in growing our healthcare proposition over the next years. We have turnkey models and solutions that can address the unique needs of hospital building projects and can deliver world-class facilities like MEITRA in record time across the country using offsite technology.
While offsite manufacturing in healthcare is still new in India, it is widely used in western markets. It is a tried and tested method, which we have integrated into a concept model that suits the needs of the Indian market. The Western design concept for healthcare facilities puts the patient experience at the core of development, taking into account aspects such as accessibility and floor to space ratio. Offsite manufacturing and specifically BIM technology allows us to plan these elements down to the smallest detail, even from an aesthetic standpoint. For example, we equipped MEITRA Hospital with elegant and modern interiors, all of which were developed at our offsite manufacturing facility, using advanced joinery solutions.
We also have strong international partnerships that we can leverage to help partners build a well-rounded healthcare experience. For example, we have partnered with Wipro GE Healthcare in India to combine their healthcare technology, equipment solutions, and services with KEF’s capabilities in offsite manufacturing technology to offer a unique value proposition to clients.
At KEF, we believe technology is the key to meet global standards across sectors. In this respect, embracing innovations such as end-to-end offsite manufacturing will help us usher in a new age of healthcare development in India.
What are your future plans?
Our vision is to reshape the way healthcare solutions are delivered and managed in India. We believe that a robust and cost-effective healthcare system, available both to the rich and poor of the nation, is very critical. We want to partner with government and healthcare providers to make this possible by using our advanced technology. Our next healthcare project is with a major hospital operator in Coimbatore.