Monday, November 23, 2009

India's $2k Open-Heart Surgery, Henry-Ford Style

BANGALORE (WSJ) -- Dr. Devi Shetty, who entered the limelight in the early 1990s as Mother Teresa's cardiac surgeon, offers cutting-edge medical care in India at a fraction of what it costs elsewhere in the world. His flagship heart hospital charges $2,000, on average, for open-heart surgery, compared with hospitals in the U.S. that are paid between $20,000 and $100,000, depending on the complexity of the surgery.

The approach has transformed health care in India through a simple premise that works in other industries: economies of scale. By driving huge volumes, even of procedures as sophisticated, delicate and dangerous as heart surgery, Dr. Shetty has managed to drive down the cost of health care in his nation of one billion.

His model offers insights for countries worldwide that are struggling with soaring medical costs, including the U.S. as it debates major health-care overhaul.

~From the article "The Henry Ford of Heart Surgery In India, a Factory Model for Hospitals Is Cutting Costs and Yielding Profits."


At 11/23/2009 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same thing for eye operations. In Mexico City there is a hospital devoted only to eyes. I got a double cataract operation there recently for $1300 total including all tests, hospital rooms--everything. This would cost more than $10,000 in USA, I think.

At 11/23/2009 3:17 PM, Blogger Colin said...

I wish the crowd that screams "people not profits" would read this. Profits are the very thing driving the kind of innovation in this article which is expanding health care access and improving quality.

Also worth noting that nothing in current health care legislation being debated would encourage this kind of innovation.

Another good article on Indian health care from Salon here:

At 11/23/2009 3:24 PM, Blogger James Fraasch said...

Wonder how much that malpractice insurance costs in India? Can one even sue for malpractice?

I am sure the answer is no.


At 11/23/2009 7:45 PM, Anonymous Dr. T said...

We've seen the volumes and the prices. How about outcomes: successful vs. unsuccessful surgeries, morbidity, mortality, complications, lengths-of-stay, etc. Put those side-by-side with some high volume USA hospitals so we can make valid comparisons.

I grow tired of these rah! rah! cheap medical care postings without any quality data.

A real-world example: In the USA in the 1980s, elderly patients hospitalized with broken hips had a 5-10% mortality rate. In the USSR with its "free" medical care, the patients had 50-75% mortality rates. Would you prefer the free care or the $40,000 care?

At 11/23/2009 10:46 PM, Blogger Colin said...

Dr T you should really read the article before posting. It indicates heart surgery in India is as good -- and perhaps even superior to -- that in the US.

At 11/24/2009 12:50 AM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Now it will be really interesting to see what the price ends up in Cayman as it is an expensive place to do business, everything has to be imported with a 20% duty (thats why there are no internal taxes).

At 11/25/2009 12:13 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...

"India's $2k Open-Heart Surgery, Henry-Ford Style"

As in horribly out of date in terms of technology?

The US has something that none of those "medical tourism" countries have, accountability should that surgery go wrong. Think of no "jurisdiction is out of reach" issues.

At 3/11/2010 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Dr. Shetty's success rates appear to be as good as those of many hospitals abroad. Narayana Hrudayalaya reports a 1.4% mortality rate within 30 days of coronary artery bypass graft surgery, one of the most common procedures, compared with an average of 1.9% in the U.S. in 2008, according to data gathered by the Chicago-based Society of Thoracic Surgeons."


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