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Our strength lies in our ability to reach the last mile

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BPL Medical Technologies, a leading medical manufacturing company, since its inception in 1967 has been growing from strength to strength backed by technology and innovation. Sunil Khurana, CEO & MD, BPL Medical Technologies divulges more details about the company’s plans to leverage the growth opportunities in medical devices sector and more, in an exclusive interview with Express Healthcare

What is your outlook for growth in the medical devices sector in India and other global markets?

In India, there have been many surveys conducted by various market research companies to capture this data. The consensus is that the medical devices market is growing in the range of 10-15 per cent. However, the sector is diversified, and the growth rate is varying for various segments in line with the change in disease patterns. For example, the shift from communicable to non-communicable diseases is getting reflected in the growth rate of surgical and imaging related equipments.

Now, if we look at other developing markets like India such as Latin America and China, the growth rate indicates a similar trend. However, if we look at developed markets like the US and the UK, there the growth rate is in mid-single digits varying from country to country. The demand in developed markets is driven by replacement of existing products due to ageing of equipments or introduction of new advanced technologies. That’s why it is important for all medical devices to continue to invest in R&D to improve patient care and outcome to stay upbeat against the competition.

How do you see this sector evolving in years to come and what are the potential growth drivers?

The medtech space is evolving very well on back of growth fuelled by new projects in private healthcare in urban coupled with focus of government on improving rural healthcare in the country. Over the last three decades, the sector has witnessed rapid growth. Yet, there is enough room for growth.

In fact, the growth rate in rural areas is better than in urban areas. So, a lot of hospitals are venturing into rural areas using the hub-and-spoke model. They have a large hospital at one place and set up tele-clinics or smaller clinics, as referring centres, with a couple of doctors in multiple areas.

There is a lot of positive change happening in healthcare especially with government focus coming in the form of Ayushman Bharat and increasing government spend on healthcare. Ayushman Bharat is a great initiative as it addresses the root cause of problem in addressing the healthcare needs of rural India by bring the families under insurance coverage. This would empower the poor of this country by giving them a sense of security as far as family health is concerned. This is also likely to spur huge demand in years to come and would shift the entire paradigm of how healthcare is delivered in our country.

In terms of empowerment, the biggest beneficiary of this are the patients. Today, we see lot of private service providers moving to smaller places to extend healthcare service delivery to rural parts of the country. So, there is a lot of change happening. A lot of knowledge sharing with the patient is also happening. Internet penetration has also enabled the patients to gain information about their health, irrespective of whether it is a city or a village. Thus, all stakeholders in the healthcare sector, whether it is the device suppliers, pharma companies, or service providers i.e. hospitals and nursing centres are poised for a good growth on the back of huge demand required to cater to healthcare needs of our country.

How does BPL Medical have an edge in an extremely competitive industry?

Yes, it is a competitive sector, but we personally feel there is enough space for everyone to operate. We believe our strength lies in our ability to reach the last mile which is reflected in our vision as a company. We continue to work on this strength and try to improve our reach further to ensure we can serve every citizen of this country.

Another major differentiating factor is our ability to provide last mile service through our distribution channel. Often providers buy equipments which are marginally cheaper and get stuck because they do not receive appropriate service for faulty equipments, this is where we have an edge over fly by night operators whereby we stand committed by our customers when needed.

How has BPL Medical’s journey been since the time they started and what are the challenges you face today?

We started four and half years back primarily known in the market as a cardiology brand. We have done well to diversify our product range across many verticals. During this journey to strengthen ourselves in the critical care segment we acquired Penlon, a UK-based company specialising in anaesthesia segment. We have also diversified into ultrasound imaging through our co-branding partnership with Korean manufacturer Alpinion. Similarly, we have invested lot of efforts in indigenizing our own range of C-Arm and X-Ray products to design products specific to the requirements of Indian hospital eco-system. To strengthen this range, we have range of offerings in digital radiography (DR) and fluoroscopy (DRF) solutions and can also provide retrofit solutions for our customers. Our most recent product introduction is in the neonatal range whereby we have tied up with global leader Atom to provide best in class Japanese products for new-borns.

Today. we can proudly claim that we have most of the solutions to cater to need of hospitals. BPL Medical has transformed as a one stop shop for most of requirement for any customer from a clinician to a multi-speciality hospital.

Our investor is committed to the growth of BPL Medical and confident on the management team to deliver the plan. We have sufficient facilities to fuel expansion for years to come. The larger issue is getting the right talent and a favourable ecosystem to make more and more products in India.

What is your vision for BPL Medical Technologies? What is the roadmap to achieve it?

Today, still about 80 per cent products in India are imported. Although the needle is moving towards Indian products but at a very slow rate. We at BPL Medical, have the right talent, experience and backing by strong investors to make this as the largest Indian medical devices company. We have added the right products in recent years to diversify our product portfolio but now we need to expand geographies to make a global footprint. I feel no Indian medtech company has been able to make a big impact globally and we are inching in that direction towards making BPL Medical as the No. 1 medical devices company from India.

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