The way we deliver healthcare is undergoing a change and just the last year has been a testament to this. Teleconsults saw a 500% rise in just the first quarter of Covid. 80% were first time users and ~50% were from non-metro cities. Healthcare is getting closer to home and the trend is here to stay. Unbundling traditional healthcare delivery has obvious advantages that are getting tougher to ignore, even by the incumbents. The next big shift will come from moving tertiary care from hospitals to closer home. We have been bullish on this trend and have taken bets to show our continued commitment.
We are proud to announce our new investment in Cancer Clinics (Cipher Oncology). Cancer Clinics (www.cancerclinics.in) is an asset light comprehensive cancer care platform.
India’s cancer burden is set to grow and it will see substantial expenditure to counter it- Reported incidence suggests ~1.2 mn new cancer patients every year (Real cancer incidence is estimated to be 1.5-2x higher than reported incidence due to suboptimal cancer registries and under diagnosis). Currently, cancer treatment infrastructure is concentrated in Tier I cities and inadequate- India is estimated to have 0.2 comprehensive centres per million versus 4.4 per million in the US.
In addition to improving access, Cancer Clinics uses a multi-disciplinary approach from the beginning to avoid repetitive testing when a patient is handed off from modality to modality. Within each treatment modality, they optimize the cost for the patient by exploring all levers- for example, reduce length of stay in the hospital to a minimum for surgical oncology, enroll patients on pharma patient support programs, etc. Once Cancer Clinics’ reach expands, they will reduce the total cost to the patient significantly as ~80% of the money spent on travel and logistics and unnecessary admission in hospitals for treatment can be saved.
In the last one year that they started operations, Cancer Clinics has seen ~2X growth Q-o-Q. The speed of adoption and patient referrals is a case in point to prove the need and relevance of the offering. They have also tripped their capacity to match their strategy to saturate a region/ state with delivery capability. There are both demand synergies and cost synergies to be extracted from a regional saturation strategy. Given most patients taking treatment in a metro today are from the hinterland, having a regional network will position Cancer Clinics well to acquire such patients with much lower customer acquisition cost.
Aside from phenomenal growth and razor sharp focus on execution, the founders are what can only be described as a “winning team”. I have been interacting with the co-founders, Sonali Srungaram and Sasi Sunkara, for over 18 months now. Sonali has spent the last eight years laboriously working to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases in India. Cancer Clinics was born out of the learning from her last venture. Sasi has had a very successful stint as a Partner in McKinsey for the last couple of decades.
We’re excited to support the team and be a partner in their journey.