Doc-lab nexus stopped us: Siddaramaiah's son

Dr. Yathindra spoke about his career, which according to him grew despite his father's political stature.

Bengaluru: Caught ‘unawares’ in a stinging controversy of being the Chief Minister’s son to bag a lone tender for setting up ‘Matrix Imaging Solutions’ – a private diagnostic centre in Victoria Hospital, a premier government hospital in the city under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah, the 36-year-old son of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, hinted at the alleged role of vested interests in Victoria Hospital and the private diagnostic centres, which have mushroomed around the hospital, for fuelling the controversy.

In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Dr. Yathindra spoke about his career, which according to him grew despite his father’s political stature, and the malaise that thwarts any new entrant or competition in the fiercely guarded world of medical diagnostics in government-run hospitals and their nexus with private diagnostic centres.

Excerpts: You have your own successful private diagnostic laboratory – Y.S. Diagnostic Centre in Basaveshwarnagar. Why did you want to foray into government hospitals?

I wanted to expand my services and when Rajesh Sir (Dr Rajesh Gowda), who was my colleague when I first started my career as a pathologist in a private diagnostic laboratory, asked me to join him in Matrix to set up diagnostic centres in government hospitals to offer affordable services to patients, I took it up. We had bagged contracts to set up a pathology centre in Jayadeva Hospital, Mysuru in 2014 and another one at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur through HLL Lifecare, which is a Central government enterprise. The third one was at Victoria.

How can Matrix Imaging Solutions, in which you are a director, offer diagnostic services to patients in Victoria Hospital at rates that are lower than those offered by the government hospital?

Government hospitals can still cut down their rates. They need not buy such expensive high-end lab instruments. They can hire them or bring down the costs by negotiating with the distributors on the number of reagents (a chemical or mixture, which is used in chemical analysis or reaction) they would buy from them every month. We had done a survey of Victoria Hospital and calculated on the approximate number of reagents the labs may require a month. We then struck a deal with the distributors, who agreed to rent out their equipment. For a thyroid test, the lab at Victoria charges around Rs 300. Our rate is Rs 225, because we have hired the hormone analyzer equipment – Maglumi, which would have cost us Rs 12 lakh in the market and Siemens, which was keen on breaking the monopoly of its rival in the government hospital sector, has given us a loan on low interest to buy their equipment for CT and MRI scans. They have funded 90 per cent of the radiology instruments on easy loans.

Is service the main motto behind your entry into government hospitals?

Despite our low rates we are making profits. We are not doing charity. We need to earn for ourselves and pay back the loans. The scope of expansion of service and delivery is huge in government hospitals. A lot of private diagnostic labs have mushroomed around Victoria Hospital because it is unable to cater to so many patients. Patients have to wait for days for their reports. How can they be treated if their reports are delayed? They are asked to go to private diagnostic centres, which are unaffordable. There is a lot of scope for improvement and accountability in government hospitals.

What has been your father’s reaction to the ‘Matrix in Victoria’ controversy?

He did not know about our participation in the tender. He called me to ask if this was true. He has never interfered in our lives and career and told me that he had confidence in me. I am not worried about myself. I am a private person and nobody knows me. I don’t wish to be known as the CM’s son. I have my own identity. But my father is a public figure. For him public perception is very important. I don’t want his image to be tarnished.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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