Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited: Making Healthcare More Accessible through Franchise

Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited(AHLL) | Making Healthcare More Accessible | The Enterprise World

The Indian healthcare landscape presents a critical challenge: ensuring quality medical care reaches all segments of society, particularly in Tier 1, 2, and 3 cities. Initiatives like BOMA projects highlight the transformative power of accessible healthcare, bridging the gap for underserved communities. This growing focus resonates with entrepreneurs seeking meaningful ventures, and established healthcare giants like Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited (AHLL) offer compelling franchise opportunities. 

Partnering with such brands empowers entrepreneurs to not only achieve business success with reduced risks, but also contribute to the noble mission of democratizing healthcare access across India.

Helping Billions of People

Apollo Health & Lifestyle Limited (AHLL), a subsidiary of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited (AHEL), is one of the renowned players in the primary and secondary healthcare segment in India. The company operates in secondary care specialty formats with Apollo Spectra Hospitals for multi-specialty clinical services and Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital for Women & Children.

Sharing the mission and vision of the Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited (AHEL), AHLL wants to help billions of people by bringing healthcare of international standards within the reach of every individual. For the benefit of humanity, AHLL is committed to the achievement and maintenance of excellence in education, research, and healthcare.

The Beginning

AHLL started venturing into the partner network hospital vertical in 2019, also known as Brand, Operations, and Management Agreements (BOMA). BOMA is a hybrid model of franchise and O&M contracts, where Apollo not only lends branding support but also extends full operational support.

A few years back, tier-II and some metro cities lacked quality healthcare services. To remedy this, Apollo increased its presence in these cities and selected metro cities through inorganic expansion through BOMA by associating with partners that aligned perfectly with the company vision.

At the time, hospitals were small and were managed solely by doctors. As an individual doctor, investing time in overseeing all the aspects of the hospital, ranging from quality to administration, was a difficult task.

By associating with AHLL, the doctor could leverage the experience of Apollo in hospital management and focus on their core competency of clinical practices. As BOMA partners, they could absorb the intrinsic benefits of the brand partnerships, Apollo goodwill, its well-connected network of consultants and group hospitals, umbrella marketing across the country, and tech leadership support.

Another benefit is the expansion strategy of Apollo. Given its strategic objectives, establishing new hospitals and pursuing organic growth might not always convert. In these instances, the BOMA arrangement offers a remarkable degree of flexibility, enabling Apollo to venture into markets that deviate from its traditional expansion trajectory.

Overall, the BOMA arrangement is a strategic tool that not only ensures efficient market entry but also aligns with its core mission of providing quality healthcare services in diverse geographic regions.

Legacy of Success

Apollo is very conscious of its legacy and its presence and impact within the healthcare industry. When Apollo collaborates with franchisees, it lends its expertise to managing and streamlining their operations. At AHLL, all business formats are in sync, catering to people in every stage of their lifecycle.

Major success factors for BOMA Hospitals:

  • Apollo gets involved right from the inception of the project and contributes to the design development, project execution, budgeting, and feasibility study of the project.
  • For existing hospitals, Apollo, through its expert projects team, suggests the modifications required to spruce up the facility and enhance technology to meet the community’s expectations.
  • Apollo implements the clinical protocols and SOPs developed using learnings from the last 40 years of experience through delivering world-class healthcare services.
  • Apollo extends the procurement support and benefits of group-wide rate contracts agreed with major equipment vendors.
  • Apollo facilitates onboarding consultants from various clinical streams and sourcing talented management personnel through different channels.
  • Apollo facilitates the implementation of its legacy HIS system, customizes price lists per the local market dynamics, and renegotiates contracts with TPA, insurance, and corporates.
  • Apollo ensures that the hospital gets commissioned as per the best industry practices.
  • Post-commissioning partner hospitals become a part of the regular business and operations review system.

Tailored Healthcare Services

AHLL provides a comprehensive range of healthcare services by thoughtfully organizing them into eight Strategic Business Units (SBUs). The flexibility of the BOMA partnership model allows the partners to choose and plug in any of these services based on their requirements and business objectives. Moreover, integrating these services in their hospital facility entails zero or minimal financial implications.

●      Apollo Spectra: Apollo Spectra came into existence to provide world-class facilities to patients for elective surgeries at a reasonable cost under the Apollo Group umbrella. Apollo has the expertise of a whole team of specialists across all its facilities and is well-equipped to perform procedures across specialties like ENT, General Surgery, Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, Plastic and cosmetic, Radiology, and Urology.

●      Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital: The goal is to satisfy the service and quality needs of the younger generation of Indian women. With advanced antenatal, birthing, post-partum, neonatal, and gynecological services, Apollo Cradle is a healthcare facility of international standards. AHLL strives to deliver clinical excellence, personalized care, and the utmost comfort to the mother, the baby, and the family.

●      Apollo Diagnostics:  It brings diagnostic services of international standards, with the most advanced technology and expertise, at a center near you. AHLL offers a full spectrum of services, from biochemistry and clinical pathology to serology.

●      Apollo Dialysis:  It is the leading dialysis service network in India. It provides world-class dialysis facilities with an impeccable track record, supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure, experienced Nephrologists, and Certified Technicians.

●      Apollo Fertility: It offers several specialized investigative procedures for infertility in men and women, giving couples their very best chance of a successful pregnancy and experiencing the joy of parenthood. The team includes specialists in Fertility, Reproductive medicine, reproductive endocrinology, Embryology, Andrology, fertility-enhancing Laparoscopic surgeons, and counselors.

●      Apollo Clinics: It aims to deliver quality healthcare of international standards to neighborhoods across India. Apollo is an integrated multi-specialty clinic that offers Specialist Consultation, Diagnostics, Preventive Health Checks, and Pharmacy, all under one roof. With state-of-the-art facilities, expert physicians, best-in-class technology, trained technicians, and support staff, Apollo Clinics is well-versed in handling the primary healthcare needs of a family.

●      Apollo Sugar Clinics: It provides end-to-end care and management of diabetes and related complications. Set up with accurate and precise diagnostics and evidence-based treatment protocols, each of these centers offers its expertise with a team of experienced Diabetologists, Endocrinologists, Diabetes health coaches, and Diet counselors who have a proven track record.

●      Apollo Dental: It is an integrated multi-specialty dental clinic that offers Specialist Consultations and solutions to all generic and cosmetic dentistry needs under one roof. With consistently upgraded technologies, renowned specialists, and easy access through online consultations for remote patients, Apollo Dental handles any dental medical eventuality. 

Each center offers the latest ergonomic Dental Chairs, Lasers, globally acclaimed Dental Implants, Digital X-rays, Dental microscopes, and top-of-the-line equipment to ensure treatments of global standards. Moreover, these treatments are monitored strictly with standardized protocols.

Adapting with BOMA

At the outset, BOMA was an innovative partnership model that disrupted the healthcare industry. To date, it has been a highly successful business format for Apollo. The primary inspiration for this model came from the hotel industry, where the franchisees have been a transformative force for a successful expansion strategy.

However, the hospital industry presents a unique set of challenges, vastly different from the hotel sector. To tackle these challenges, Apollo successfully adopted the franchising strategy for inorganic expansion. Healthcare is inherently complex due to its critical role in public health and the multifaceted nature of healthcare services. The hospital environment demands stringent compliance with ever-evolving medical standards and regulations.

Despite the evolving franchising sector, Apollo remains constant with its unwavering commitment to clinical excellence and patient safety. AHLL focuses on delivering high-quality healthcare services, and ensuring the safety and well-being of its patients is an uncompromising priority that defines its core values and standards.

Today, Apollo ensures its services work well with how the franchise business is changing. As it operates small and boutique format multi-specialty hospitals, Apollo has the advantage of being more flexible to quickly adapt to the changing needs of the local market dynamics and the BOMA partners than large hospital set-ups.

Leveraging Technology

As a legacy brand of 40+ years, Apollo is among the pioneers and leaders of healthcare. Hence, it ensures that whatever learnings it has acquired over the years, it shares with its partners to encourage their growth and success. The goal for Apollo is to see that the partner hospital maintains the same levels of excellence through the most upgraded medical technology as the team supports them in setting up the tech specs of the equipment.

All partner hospitals use the preferred Apollo ‘HIS’ system, which is refined and customized based on its experience in managing multiple hospitals for many years. Apollo also supports growth and development activities such as digital marketing, CRM implementation, and regular training sessions for admin staff and consultant specialists.

A one-stop healthcare Solution

All markets are different. Apollo is constantly working towards customizing its services and consultant engagement models as well as pricing via the local business dynamics of the partner location. By integrating other AHLL modules such as Diagnostic, Dialysis, Clinics, and other SBUs, Apollo becomes a one-stop solution for all the healthcare needs of the partner hospitals.

Evolution of Leadership

Leadership in franchise systems has come a long way. Before, it was predominantly top-down, where leaders called the shots. Now, it is all about collaboration and teamwork. Over the years, everyone has become more discerning, and partner hospitals want to go beyond just brand affiliation. As a result, franchisors have to make sure they can support the clinical, admin, and day-to-day operations of their franchisees.

Today, leadership must be mindful of cultures where quality, compliance, innovation, and sustainability are top priorities. Plus, conflict resolution skills are a must. Compared to older leadership styles, it has become a partnership-centered approach where franchisors and franchisees thrive.

However, collaboration has to work both ways. Partner franchisees must invest equally and be willing to provide infrastructure and tech as required. Just as a stable marriage takes a lot of effort, understanding the expectations of partners, and orchestrating the activities seamlessly to create a win-win situation, franchising also functions on the same dynamics.

At Apollo, while the partner network hospital is a separate vertical, it works in sync with existing business units to learn and implement the best practices at the partner hospitals.

Accomplishments of Leadership Journey

As the management head of the partner network since 2019, the team has spearheaded the BOMA partnership initiative, marking a significant stride towards extending healthcare access to underserved populations. To date, they have successfully signed 15 contracts, with nine hospitals already operational and six others in various stages of development as greenfield projects. This concerted effort underscores their commitment to expanding healthcare infrastructure and services, ensuring that individuals across Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 cities have access to quality medical care.

Striking a Balance

Any organization and its people thrive in a positive, inclusive, and growth-oriented workplace environment. The management highlights that happy, engaged, and fulfilled employees are the backbone of any successful organization, and they aspire to nurture them within their team.

Regular feedback, peer and senior reviews, and performance evaluations let his team set and achieve their goals. This feedback loop allows the company to address concerns and celebrate successes. Through controlled autonomy and decision-making authority, the team assumes ownership of their roles.

The uniqueness of the AHLL team lies in its ability and focus to strike a balance between Apollo and the promoters. Apart from a few senior positions, most at Apollo are positioned in Partner roles and get access to its processes, protocols, and operation activities.

Apollo implements its HR policies consistently across BOMA partner hospitals, upholding the highest standards of personnel management and employment practices. Furthermore, Apollo prioritizes the ongoing training and development of its clinical and non-clinical staff, a practice overseen by seasoned trainers from its Learning and Development, Nursing, and Quality departments. This approach enables the team members, both in healthcare and administrative roles, to receive regular opportunities for skill enhancement and professional growth.

Thinking Long Term

The advice for entrepreneurs looking to partner with Apollo or any other hospital is to adopt a long-term perspective over quick financial gains. The healthcare business is unique from other ventures because it touches so many lives and is deeply connected with the well-being of society at large. Overall, it is a venture that demands patience, dedication, and a focus on building a trusted brand through a patient-centric approach.

Offering a financial perspective, it is acknowledged that the Capex may be higher than in other businesses, but the returns are as well. For greenfield projects, the gestation period is slightly prolonged compared to other ventures, and one must understand that the ramp-up takes time. However, it is a sustainable business model meant for those who want to pursue growth and long-term success.

Franchisee: Matching the Criteria

At Apollo, the selection criteria for a BOMA partner transcends mere financial metrics. In addition to evaluating the infrastructure and financial viability, Apollo prioritizes partners who align with its strategic vision. AHLL seeks collaborators who share its values and long-term objectives, fostering a purpose-driven, values-aligned partnership.

Narrowed down the criteria to become a BOMA partner with AHLL:

● Have a minimum capacity of 40 beds or more

● Have at least two fully functional operation theatres (or willingness to invest in setting up new ones)

● Have a floor space of 30,000 sq. ft. or more

● Meet all statutory compliances

● Do not have any existing, conflicting brand associations

● Have an infrastructure at par with Apollo standards & an investment capacity to upgrade if required.

Through ups and downs

By its reputation, Apollo has been able to attract high-potential candidates and has helped them unlock their true potential to expand and succeed. As it progresses in the journey, it strengthens its clinical programs by bringing in the learning amassed over four decades. With the advantage of an extensive network, Apollo also uses its strength to hire the right resources and people.

From the beginning, Apollo implements checks and balances to avoid crises ahead of time. Moreover, the company continuously keeps a tab on the financial, operational, and statutory measures of each hospital. Additionally, apart from revenue, Apollo shares cost-control methods, and its partners can see a visible difference in their account ledgers.

The in-house Apollo quality team measures the quality indicators on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to address deviations appropriately. This set of systems helped the company throughout the pandemic, as it increased its outreach to connect with more people while guiding its partners in day-to-day management, maintaining hygiene protocols, and providing SOPS for the best clinical outcomes.

Expanding into Non-metro Cities

Although most well-equipped and renowned corporate hospitals reside in metro cities, a large population of Indians remains unserved in non-metro cities. Apollo, as an organization, senses an opportunity to expand inorganically in these locations to create a cluster of owned and partnered hospitals.

Apollo is confident that, for AHLL, the numbers will continue to grow in select domestic and international markets. Its focus, however, is on finding and collaborating with partners who embody and share these three values—vision, passion, and zeal.

Did You like the post? Share it now: