APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Using its flagship hospital as a prototype, and incorporating major lessons learned from building eight more hospitals in two years, LifeSpring commits to continue expanding its scalable model to thirty hospitals by 2012.
LifeSpring Hospitals operates with over 100 standardized marketing, clinical and administrative processes. Using these ISO-certified processes, every hospital has been designed to deliver identical healthcare services and customer care. LifeSpring has also standardized the process with which each new branch is designed and built.
A thorough market and demographic analysis is carried out for each potential new hospital location. LifeSpring hospitals are built in urban and peri-urban areas, where there is both a large population of low-income families as well as a lack of quality and affordable maternal healthcare providers. Each new hospital follows an operational blue print and 'First 100 days' plan, which includes marketing activities. Month-by-month revenue targets are identified for each branch beforehand, based on LifeSpring's first hospital, and new employees are trained in the processes particular to their roles.
LifeSpring's Corporate Office currently oversees all nine existing hospitals. While this office will continue to house the company's central management, in time, regional 'clusters' of hospitals will be managed by local teams.
Monitoring and evaluation occurs at both a company-wide level and as well as for individual hospitals. LifeSpring collects an extensive range of operational, financial and clinical quality-related metrics, which are monitored on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Operational and financial metrics are reviewed to ensure that the hospitals remain low-cost, and clinical quality indicators are monitored to ensure the highest levels of quality and safety.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
LifeSpring plans to add six new facilities to its existing chain of nine hospitals by the end of the current Indian fiscal year (March 2011). An additional 15 hospitals will be built during the following Indian fiscal year, ending in March 2012.
Maternal and infant mortality is a very serious problem in India. In absolute numbers, India has one of the highest numbers of pregnancy-related deaths in the world. LifeSpring Hospitals was started to address this issue by filling the wide gap between under-resourced and over-crowded public hospitals, and high quality but expensive private hospitals.
Very often, public maternity hospitals in India do not have the resources to sufficiently meet the growing demand for their services. Though they are supposed to be free, patients are often asked to pay tips and bribes to the hospital staff. It is common for pregnant women to have to stand waiting for several hours, often on the street outside the hospitals, and to sometimes share a bed. Due to these crowded conditions, many women leave the hospital before it is clinically advised to do so, leading to a higher probability of morbidity. For some rural women, these reasons (and the distance they would need to travel to reach the nearest hospital) are enough to make them prefer delivering at home.
To meet the demand for healthcare services that public hospitals have not been able to fulfill, private hospitals and nursing homes have mushroomed across India. The private sector now accounts for an overwhelming majority of the country's healthcare providers. However, both big, multispeciality hospitals as well as smaller nursing homes charge prices that are out of the range that low-income families can afford. Even then, because these families value the better service of a private hospital, it is common for them to finance this option with an expensive loan, which they pay back over a number of months following the delivery.
LifeSpring Hospitals is a private company that is addressing this problem with its chain of small, low-cost maternity hospitals. Its hospitals provide healthcare over the entire course of a woman's pregnancy. With prices one half to one third of the market rate, LifeSpring specializes in normal and caesarian deliveries, as well as pre-natal and post-natal care and family planning services. Unlike other hospitals (both public and private), LifeSpring has very strict and comprehensive clinical quality protocols. Its morbidity and mortality rates are much lower than international standards.
In addition to healthcare services, LifeSpring's Outreach Workers educate women and female adolescents in the surrounding communities about the importance of institutional delivery, postponing the age of marriage, and of spacing in between births. During outpatient consultations in its hospitals, LifeSpring's customers are told by doctors how best to care for themselves during pregnancy, and which antenatal tests they should have done. Following a delivery at LifeSpring, each new mother is visited by an Outreach Worker, and every baby is given vaccinations by the hospital's pediatricians.
Through its healthcare and education services, LifeSpring is providing low-income families the opportunity to experience very high quality healthcare with dignity. LifeSpring will expand its current chain and successful business model across the country, bringing its services to thousands more women in India.
SEEKING: Financial Resources
LifeSpring Hospitals is seeking to partner with fellow CGI members who would be interested in supporting this project with financial resources. Soon after becoming incorporated as a Private Limited company in 2008, LifeSpring received joint equity funding in the amount of $3.9 million by Acumen Fund (a US-based social venture capital fund) and HLL (an Indian government enterprise) to expand our model. After two years and with an additional eight hospitals, LifeSpring has accumulated significant knowledge on how best to expand our model. We are now seeking the necessary funding to finance this next stage of our expansion plans.
OFFERING: Best Practice Information
As LifeSpring Hospitals has operational experience in quite a few areas pertaining to our main activities (such as scaling-up, paraskilling, low-cost healthcare, and project management), we would be happy to share what we have learned to be best practices with other organizations either working in resource-constrained environments, interested in expanding operations, and/or providing public healthcare services.