Dr. Prathap C. Reddy
India
Dr. Prathap C. Reddy
  • Founder and Chair, Apollo Hospitals (Healthcare)
Born Argonda, India, 1932. Bachelors, Madras Christian College; MD, Stanley Medical College, Chennai.
“[T]here is something within us… we can do whatever you think should be done… I’ll call it 3 Ps. First, Purity in thought, Patience, and in India you need Persistence.”

Summary

Prathap C. Reddy is a cardiologist and Founder and Chair of Apollo Hospitals, a multinational hospital chain, headquartered in Chennai, India. Founded in 1983 as the first corporate healthcare provider in India, Apollo Hospitals brought world-class healthcare to the country and is now one of Asia’s largest healthcare providers with a network of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies.

The interview starts with Reddy reflecting on his formative years, his medical training in the United States, and his decision to return to India where he opened a cardiology practice. He describes that over time, his practice started drawing more and more patients from all over the country. He explains there were limited options in India for patients whose heart disease progressed, as coronary bypass surgery was only available at two institutions, and the surgeries did not yield great results. These conditions led Reddy to develop a vision: the creation of a hospital that would provide the same level and quality of care that was found in the United States. Reddy explains that Apollo Hospitals was ultimately the result of this initial vision.

In this interview, Reddy discusses the challenges he encountered when trying to build the first Apollo Hospital, which included navigating around India’s Urban Land Ceiling Act and raising capital to construct the hospital and to purchase medical equipment. Reddy explains that he solved most of these problems with the help of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had taken a special interest in the issue of reversing brain drain in India, and with the help of Pranab Mukherjee (then Finance Minister of India and later President of India) who mandated in 1982 that Apollo Hospitals be allowed to borrow fifty percent of the cost from the state-owned bank and fifty percent as a foreign exchange loan as a special case, as hospitals did not qualify for many different funding mechanisms. Reddy discusses how even after the mandate was made, he faced many bureaucratic obstacles to obtain the funding, and he did not actually receive it until a year later in 1983.

Reddy continues the interview by discussing how he was able to convince former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 to allow hospitals from that point forward to be funded like any other trade or industry, to have the government facilitate health insurance, and to stop allowing treatments paid for by employers to be treated as part of the patient’s taxable income.

In this interview, Reddy discusses the achievements of Apollo. At the time of the interview in 2014, 150,000 heart surgeries were performed in that year alone. When Apollo started, Reddy set the cost of heart surgery at $3,000, which was already very low considering the overseas cost of $50,000-$60,000. Over time that $3,000 cost has shrunk to $2,000 with a surgery success rate of 99%. Reddy explains that he was able to drive the cost down and improve surgery success through the use of innovative techniques. Reddy describes that there are “Three Ps” that move people to action: purity, patience, and persistence. He claims that following the Three Ps is truly what allowed for his success and the success of Apollo Hospitals.

To conclude the interview, Reddy reflects on the changing healthcare needs in India. With non-communicable diseases being the new predominant health concerns, he calls for greater government spending in healthcare, for the government to encourage healthcare, and for upgraded technology use. The interview ends with Reddy discussing his new corporate social responsibility initiative: Total Health. With this, he has “adopted” 70,000 people including newborns and seniors, from Aragonda, his native village in Andhra Pradesh. Through a series of several programs, he looks after their physical health, their spiritual health, and the health of the environment.

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Prathap C. Reddy is a cardiologist and Founder and Chair of Apollo Hospitals, a multinational hospital chain, headquartered in Chennai, India. Founded in 1983 as the first corporate healthcare provider in India, Apollo Hospitals brought world-class healthcare to the country and is now one of Asia’s largest healthcare providers with a network of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies.

The interview starts with Reddy reflecting on his formative years, his medical training in the United States, and his decision to return to India where he opened a cardiology practice. He describes that over time, his practice started drawing more and more patients from all over the country. He explains there were limited options in India for patients whose heart disease progressed, as coronary bypass surgery was only available at two institutions, and the surgeries did not yield great results. These conditions led Reddy to develop a vision: the creation of a hospital that would provide the same level and quality of care that was found in the United States. Reddy explains that Apollo Hospitals was ultimately the result of this initial vision.

In this interview, Reddy discusses the challenges he encountered when trying to build the first Apollo Hospital, which included navigating around India’s Urban Land Ceiling Act and raising capital to construct the hospital and to purchase medical equipment. Reddy explains that he solved most of these problems with the help of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had taken a special interest in the issue of reversing brain drain in India, and with the help of Pranab Mukherjee (then Finance Minister of India and later President of India) who mandated in 1982 that Apollo Hospitals be allowed to borrow fifty percent of the cost from the state-owned bank and fifty percent as a foreign exchange loan as a special case, as hospitals did not qualify for many different funding mechanisms. Reddy discusses how even after the mandate was made, he faced many bureaucratic obstacles to obtain the funding, and he did not actually receive it until a year later in 1983.

Reddy continues the interview by discussing how he was able to convince former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 to allow hospitals from that point forward to be funded like any other trade or industry, to have the government facilitate health insurance, and to stop allowing treatments paid for by employers to be treated as part of the patient’s taxable income.

In this interview, Reddy discusses the achievements of Apollo. At the time of the interview in 2014, 150,000 heart surgeries were performed in that year alone. When Apollo started, Reddy set the cost of heart surgery at $3,000, which was already very low considering the overseas cost of $50,000-$60,000. Over time that $3,000 cost has shrunk to $2,000 with a surgery success rate of 99%. Reddy explains that he was able to drive the cost down and improve surgery success through the use of innovative techniques. Reddy describes that there are “Three Ps” that move people to action: purity, patience, and persistence. He claims that following the Three Ps is truly what allowed for his success and the success of Apollo Hospitals.

To conclude the interview, Reddy reflects on the changing healthcare needs in India. With non-communicable diseases being the new predominant health concerns, he calls for greater government spending in healthcare, for the government to encourage healthcare, and for upgraded technology use. The interview ends with Reddy discussing his new corporate social responsibility initiative: Total Health. With this, he has “adopted” 70,000 people including newborns and seniors, from Aragonda, his native village in Andhra Pradesh. Through a series of several programs, he looks after their physical health, their spiritual health, and the health of the environment.
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Video Clips by Topic

Government Regulations (1)

Prathap C. Reddy, founder of Apollo Hospitals in India, discusses his struggles with the Indian government bureaucracy as he sought to grow his hospital network.



Leadership

Prathap C. Reddy, founder of Apollo Hospitals, headquartered in Chennai, India, talks about the importance of values that move people to action. He sums them up as the three Ps: Purity, patience and persistence. “If you have all these 3, you will not fail, provided your first P is right.”


Regulation (2)

Prathap C. Reddy, founder of India-based Apollo Hospitals, describes his early challenges of dealing with Indian government policies that discouraged setting up of private hospitals. He discusses the political intervention of then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.


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Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Interview Citation Format

"Interview with Dr. Prathap C. Reddy, interviewed by Tarun Khanna, April 29, 2014, Creating Emerging Markets Project, Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, http://www.hbs.edu/creating-emerging-markets/."