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Published on: May 17, 2024, 10:51 a.m.
Nephro Care India all set to go pan India
  • Sengupta: the care model we have established is unique

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

Kolkata-headquartered Nephro Care India, which has grown from just one unit at Salt Lake in Kolkata to five comprehensive renal care units in West Bengal, in a span of less than 3 years, is looking to set up 22 such high-end facilities across the country by March 2026. A majority of these units will come up in the smaller towns and cities so as to deliver comprehensive renal care to regions where such essential services are scarce.

However, aspirations do not end there. With foresight spanning over the next decade, plans are in motion to launch 300 comprehensive renal care clinics, catering to nearly one-million patients grappling with chronic kidney disease nationwide. It is a monumental endeavour, one fuelled by a steadfast commitment to serve and heal.

Nephro Care was founded in 2014 by Dr Pratim Sengupta, in Kolkata, with the objective of providing comprehensive medical services for renal patients. It currently offers a wide range of clinical and lifestyle solutions and renal insufficiency treatment to patients. The treatment framework covers the entire range of lifestyle, physiological and spiritual aspects of wellness. The company posted a revenue of Rs19.90 crore and earned a profit after tax (PAT) of Rs3.40 crore during the first nine months of FY2023-24, compared to a revenue of Rs17.09 crore, with a PAT of Rs1.94 crore in FY2022-23.

According to Sengupta, Founder & MD, Nephro Care India: “Nearly 2.20 lakh patients develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD) annually in India, which calls for close to 34 million dialysis treatment sessions each year. The Million Death Study estimated a 50 per cent increase in deaths due to chronic kidney disease (CKD) between 2001-2003 and 2010-2013. Kidney disease is considered a significant public health concern in India, with high morbidity and mortality rates.”

Though haemodialysis is the preferred mode of treatment for patients suffering from end stage renal disease, cost constraints and lack of availability of sufficient infrastructure forces more than two-thirds of patients to leave without receiving full treatment. Estimates suggest that there are around 7,00,00,000 patients suffering from various chronic kidney diseases. However, the existing renal care infrastructure in India is abysmally low at around 5,000 dialysis centres (including 1,353 centres under the PMNDP).

It was this steep gap between demand for quality renal care and supply that prompted Sengupta, a senior nephrologist who has been associated with several premier multispecialty hospitals in West Bengal, to set up Nephro Care India in 2014.

India adds close to 2.2-lakh new patients to the pool of people requiring dialysis every year. The market is growing exponentially and there are a few key reasons for this steep spike in the number of CKD patients. With close to 82-million diabetic patients, India is going to be the Diabetic Capital of the World. Nearly 32 per cent of patients with diabetes are likely to experience renal issues at some point in their lives.

“Moreover, the prevalence of hypertension is very high in this country because our national salt consumption is 2.5 times higher than the international average. So, diabetes and hypertension are together a fertile ground for renal failure and on top of that one of the biggest challenges is OTC (over the counter) medications. We have no regulation for painkillers, antibiotics and hence the burden of kidney disease is increasing exponentially in this country.

A survey from WHO shows the point prevalence for CKD in India is 118 per million while for the rest of the world it is 82 per million which means every 10th person in this country suffers from kidney disease. Given these circumstances, being a nephrologist myself, I felt the urgent need to create an infrastructure where we can serve CKD patients in a holistic manner,” adds Sengupta.

  • Sengupta examining a patient: delivering value

Going public

Nephro Care India recently filed its draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) papers with NSE Emerge to raise funds through an initial public offering (IPO). The SME (small and medium enterprise) IPO is backed by banking veteran and former HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh. According to DRHP, the company intends to utilise net proceeds from the IPO to set up a multi-speciality hospital – Vivacity Multi Speciality Hospital – at Madhyamgram in Kolkata, West Bengal.

“The new hospital will be a unit of Nephro Care and is proposed to include 100 inpatient beds, including a 30-bed Critical Care unit with ICU, HDU, RTU and NICU facilities. Vivacity will offer treatment services in various disciplines such as cardiology, medical oncology, gastroenterology, gynaecology and many others, including an advanced renal transplant unit in East India,” says Sengupta.

Nephro Care closed the pre-IPO funding round in December 2023. Deepak Parekh and other ace investors including Bharat Shah, HDFC Securities chairman and Macleods Pharmaceuticals founder and MD Rajendra Agarwal, have invested in the company. Corporate Capital Ventures Pvt Ltd is the sole book-running lead manager to the issue.

Renal care service

Explains Sengupta: “While there are many hospitals and clinics which have dialysis machine, none of them currently provide a holistic renal care programme. That is what sets Nephro Care India apart from some of the other players in the industry.

Nephro Care is not merely a dialysis service providing company but a renal care service provider which focuses on prevention of kidney disease, early intervention so as to ensure that the patient does not require dialysis and if somebody is at an advanced stage then we also provide dialysis and transplant services. So, we provide the entire A to Z of kidney care through a structured programme.”

The company has rolled out a flagship medico-yoga programme called ‘Mukti’ which takes care of the overall well-being of the patients and helps improve quality of life through a blend of modern medicine and ancient yogic wisdom. Developed by Sengupta and Subhabrata Bhattacharya, ‘Mukti’ aims to address all discomforts of the patients which hamper the overall quality of life through customised asanas. The programme, which is delivered both through offline and online channels by professional trainers, has benefitted more than 1,500 patients so far.

Says 36-year-old CKD patient Suman Barui: “Ever since I started the Mukti programme, my weight has reduced by close to 2 kg and my systolic blood pressure level has also come down to around 130 as compared to over 150. Earlier I used to worry about my health all the time and that was impacting my overall well-being, but Nephro Care doctors made me realise the need to focus on health through structured interventions and yoga programme. Now I am not only much healthier but also more relaxed and calmer.”

While ‘Mukti’ has been designed to address the issues faced by kidney patients, this programme of holistic healing can benefit everyone as it is customised for each participant according to their physical and mental health as per their medical history and assessment of the top team of doctors at Nephro Care and is also supported by a 24x7 call centre.

Mukti, which is a scientifically implemented Yoga programme, is like an elixir of life. Once followed properly, it can help control hypertension, and bring about positive metabolic changes leading to improved energy levels.

Growth journey

Nephro Care, which came into existence in 2014, primarily offered dialysis and renal OPD services delivered, till 2021, through the third-party facilities of hospitals. However, in December 2021, the company set up its own day care unit at Salt Lake with facilities offering a wide range of services. Its revenues during FY22 stood at Rs3.42 crore, reflecting full-fledged operation of the unit for less than 3 months of FY22.

  • A patient receiving care at Nephro Care India clinic

In FY23 the company operated its flagship unit for the full year and leveraged all its facilities in a more optimised manner, significantly expanding the scope of operations from only dialysis and renal OPD to a wider range of services including dialysis, pathology, pharmacy, lifestyle support, non-lab investigation, diet advisory and general consultation accessed by an increased number of patients.

For the nine months ended 31 December, 2023, the company’s revenue stood at Rs19.90 crore, driven by several factors including the introduction of several other services including Mukti and home dialysis/home care; optimised utilisation of its existing facilities at the flagship unit; setting up of a satellite dialysis unit at Salt Lake; increase in patient footfall through the extensive social media presence of Sengupta through his YouTube channel and extensive digital and physical marketing drives, among others.

“Our USP is our model, the care model we have established is unique. If somebody suffers from kidney disease they go to a doctor and are either given medicine or suggested dialysis. But under our care model we first start working on the possibility of reversing the need for dialysis because I feel adding life to the person is more important than adding a few years,” adds Sengupta.

Way forward

Having established a ‘perfect’ model to provide holistic care, Nephro Care is now poised to grow further, driven by the steep gap between demand and supply. Despite a sharp upturn in demand, the haemodialysis market in India is at the tip of the iceberg. It has the potential to grow threefold so as to bridge the current unmet demand.

While Sengupta understands the need for establishing more such holistic centres across the country, he is not in a hurry to spread out too thin. He rather plans to take time and establish a firm presence in one market by going deeper into the various districts before moving into the next. This will be crucial to provide value to the customers or patients, he feels. The company plans to adopt a hub and spoke model and is looking to rope in partners to support its growth plans across the country.

“If you want to become a banyan tree then you have to make your roots very strong. My philosophy is simple. I want to become a banyan tree. I want to take the due time to expand because healthcare is totally connected with someone’s life and death and I want to deliver value to my patients,” sums up Sengupta.

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