This profile was prepared when Devi Shetty was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Devi believes the only way to achieve equity in healthcare access is by creating massive economies of scale in healthcare delivery. After many years of starting large, renowned hospitals, he applied his economies of scale model to create the broadest telemedicine network in Asia and a large-scale insurance program for poor farmers to help India’s rural poor overcome barriers of distance and affordability. Across all his institutions, Dr. Shetty employs large numbers of rural women, using healthcare as a means of empowerment and promoting economic development. He has also initiated a scholarship program for talented students to attend medical school, increasing the pool of doctors who will treat the millions of India’s untreated poor. In 2001, Dr. Shetty took everything he had learned from his previous endeavors and founded the Narayana Hrudayalaya (NH) heart-hospital in Bangalore, where his team of surgeons performs more surgeries daily than any other hospital worldwide. Narayana Hrudayalaya (“God’s Compassionate Home”) employs a range of mechanisms to achieve its mission to never turn away a patient for lack of funds. Their strategy is based on the central operating principle of providing the lowest cost possible for the highest level of quality. NH performs approximately 32 open heart surgeries a day, almost eight times the average at other Indian hospitals, and the highest in the world. Yet, the heart hospital is merely the fulcrum of the rapidly developing Narayana Health City in Bangalore. This campus will consist of eight other hospitals and research institutes, ranging from a 1000-bed cancer hospital to a 500-bed eye hospital to institutes for neuroscience and thrombosis. The Narayana Health City is mirrored in Kolkata by the Rabindranath Tagore Insitute of Cardiac Sciences, and other such health cities are in the planning stage. While the global medical field moves towards five-star boutique hospitals, Dr. Shetty’s health cities are focused on the millions of poor people who can not otherwise afford treatment.