LifeSpring is a mini Ratna enterprise under India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and is a 50–50 equity partnership between HLL Lifecare Ltd. (HLL) and the Acumen Fund, a US-based nonprofit global venture philanthropy fund. It was converted to a private hospital in 2008 with plans to open five new hospitals in that year and four more in 2009.
LifeSpring hospitals aim to address the existing deficit in the accessibility and affordability around maternal and infant care in the country. Key services of the hospital chain include antenatal care, postnatal care, deliveries (normal and caesarean) and family planning services. LifeSpring also provides pediatric care, including immunizations, diagnostic services, a pharmacy and healthcare education to communities in which they are located.
LifeSpring hospitals are typically 20-25 bed facilities built in low-cost locations primarily targeting low-income groups. They offer quality maternal and child health-care at affordable rates (30–50 percent of market price).
The flagship hospital is located on the outskirts of Hyderabad and has ~52 percent share of all the births in that area. Presently, there are 11 LifeSpring hospitals in Andhra Pradesh, which are built in the proximity of ‘urban slums’ in Tier-II and Tier-III towns. These locations include Bowenpally, Chilkalaguda, Boduppal, Moula Ali (Hyderabad), Mallapur (Hyderabad), Nellore, Vanasthalipuram, Vijayawada, and Rajahmundry.
LifeSpring Hospitals in Hyderabad draw over 70 percent of their customers from low-income communities that earn between INR150–300 a day. As of January 2012, the five-year-old hospital had delivered more than 13,000 babies, and treated over 100,000 outpatient cases. These hospitals primarily cater to the less educated and less privileged strata of society that cannot afford private health-care and yet seek quality and dignified maternal care.
LifeSpring’s first hospital became operationally profitable in 18 months. Replicating the learning from this proof-of-concept pilot, all LifeSpring hospitals are designed to become operationally profitable in 18 to 24 months.
LifeSpring Hospitals use smart staffing models – the hospital focuses on maximum utilization of resources enabled via high volumes (measured by the number of deliveries). The hospital reports having facilitated over ~250,000 outpatient visits.
It has adopted the model of small hospitals (20-25 beds) based out of areas where the cost of land is significantly lower than metros. Moreover, as their target customer base dwells in these proximities, LifeSpring manages to contain the primary issue of accessibility in health-care.
Through LifeSpring’s long-standing partnership with the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, its clinical quality indicators have shown significant improvement over the years (only 18 complaints of about 6,000 users of inpatient services were received through LifeSpring’s complaint registration system from users between 2011 and 2012).
LifeSpring’s hospitals primarily use midwives to provide maternity care, allowing one doctor to oversee more patients by focusing on cases that specifically require a doctor’s attention. This further promotes cost containment and aids affordability. The price of a normal delivery is approximately US $40, compared with the market rate of US $200.
LifeSpring essentially aims to fill the gap caused by the disparity between the excessively high prices charged by private institutions and the compromised quality, transparency, efficiency, and attitude that the public sector carries, albeit providing the services for free. In addition, it also focuses on community outreach programs to educate the surrounding communities around women’s health, thus creating a significant social impact.
With strong accreditations and a stringent control of quality, LifeSpring has a robust expansion plan in place – by 2015, an estimated 82,000 women will benefit from LifeSpring’s services.