Manipal Hospitals merger with Fortis Hospitals: A journey that started in 1953 in Manipal

A renowned Indian business historian once told me, first very little is written on Indian business history. Second, whatever is written,  it is mostly North India based and ends at Bombay/Mumbai. Southern India is mostly missing from the analysis.

Within Southern India, this region of Mangalore/Udupi/Manipal (called South Canara earlier) deserves a special mention in the pantheon of Indian business history. How many regions have contributed distinctly to four service industries?

  • Medicine (discussed in the post)
  • Banking (home to several banks which pioneered many innovations, much of whose history is lost)
  • Education (several students have got educated in Manipal)
  • Hotels and Restaurants (each time you eat in Udupi Restaurants and lick your fingers, remember they originated from here)

So, when one read the news of merger of Manipal Hospitals and Fortis Hospitals, to create the largest hospital company it warmed the heart a bit.

After all the journey started in 1953, when Dr. T.M.A Pai established the Kasturba Gandhi Medical College in Manipal:

The seeds of our origin were sown as early as 1953 when the founder of the Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), Dr. T.M.A. Pai, established the Kasturba Medical College in Manipal, Karnataka. Manipal Hospitals as an entity came into existence in 1991 with the launch of our 650-bed flagship hospital at Old Airport Road, Bangalore.

One has had the privilege of reading the history of establishing the medical college in Manipal in several accounts (most out of print, see this recent account). To say this was against all the odds does not do justice to the effort. The amount of conviction Dr Pai had and how he managed to explain the authorities that one will establish a self financing medical college in a remote western corner of India, was just one of the several challenges. His vision gradually began to be realised as the College not just became successful but Manipal eventually became an education hub and a University town.

How one thing led to another. The medical college led to establishing a hospital company (will not be surprised if much of the staff came from the Manipal college) and now to the biggest hospital company in the country.

The combination of Manipal Hospitals and Fortis Hospitals will result in the creation of the largest provider of healthcare services in India by revenue with 41 hospitals, 4 hospitals overseas and 11,000 plus installed bed capacity (including teaching hospital beds of Manipal Hospitals).

It will have a staff pool consisting of 4,200 doctors, 9,300 nurses and 11,400 other employees across India.

The hospitals’ complementary geographic footprints and combined clinical strengths will provide significant scale, revenue and cost synergies.

As we look at the size of thus deal, we must be mindful how the platform was laid 65 years ago. There is a lot of history behind these major decisions and should be remembered and honored…

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