Top medtech co looking to make more items in India

GE HealthCare, the world’s leading medtech company, is looking to manufacture more products from its global portfolio in India as part of its supply chain diversification strategy. In an interview with Viswanath Pilla, Elie Chaillot, president & CEO of GE HealthCare International, called on India to simplify tax structure, give adequate reimbursement schemes and easy financing to spur expansion of the Indian healthcare market and attract more investments. Edited excerpts:

What makes you hedge your bets on India, which is a smaller market for your products?

We think of India as a market and this market is growing in double-digits every year; it’s going to continue to grow. We also think of what India can offer in terms of qualified human resources, and competitiveness of ‘Make in India‘.

GE HealthCare is talking about supply chain resilience ever since the pandemic. How far have you reached, and what is the India role?

We are moving forward. We have announced we will export the India-made PET CT Discovery IQ medical imaging machine to 15 countries. Additionally, key CT scan products like Revolution Aspire CT and Revolution ACT will also be exported from India. We also localised MRI coils. There are other announcements coming. India has high demand. So, it makes sense to make it here and service other markets from here. We are shifting some manufacturing from other places, and we are also making in India from scratch.

What has really changed in India in the last several years, in ease of doing business?

If you look at what’s happened in the last few years, now you have 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in medical devices; there is a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for local manufacturing. The ease of doing business is getting better and better. The Indian government can do more. The tax system in India is complex – it needs simplification, maybe India needs a large supplier ecosystem of suppliers that will allow us to manufacture more here. There needs to be some improvement on transport and logistics. The government is really keen on making this happen; I can already see signs of it.

India is seen as a growth market, but still it lags China in terms of value. What are the challenges for healthcare expenditure and consumption?

India’s healthcare market presents a significant investment opportunity due to its large and growing population. We are the biggest medtech company in India. However, there are challenges such as limited access to financing and high interest rates (on the provider side). I think that reimbursement schemes or social security could improve (on the consumption side). These are possible reasons behind India’s smaller market size.

How is GE HealthCare trying to solve affordability and accessibility challenges in India with your products?

We are the first to work on access for healthcare by making technology affordable by localizing, by making sure that technology will add value without adding cost, by making sure we enhance throughput of the same machine in order to have a better outcome and better efficiency. Our R&D is also linked to market dynamics. If your R&D is not connected to the market, then you will not have the right product.

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