In most cases, a business is started with the intention of making a profit and expanding to a larger scale; however, the provision of medical care is not considered to be in the category of businesses that are motivated by profit but rather by compassion and care. Today, I would like to introduce you to Dr. Prathap Chandra Reddy, the Founder and Chairman of Apollo Hospitals (Cardiologist). Although quality medical care was still a pipe dream in the country, he is credited with pioneering the introduction of cost-effective medical facilities to India.

In 1961, Dr. Prathap joined Worcester City Hospital in Massachusetts, where he worked as a resident doctor for a total of three years, the first two of which were spent in the role of chief resident doctor. He received his MBBS degree from Stanley Medical College in Chennai. When some time had passed, in the year 1970, he went back to India and became affiliated with HM Hospital, a recently opened hospital that has a capacity of forty patients. During his time at HM hospital, Dr. Prathap’s reputation developed, and as a result, a patient who suffered a heart attack but had never been seen by a doctor before sought out Dr. Prathap for advice. As a direct consequence of this, he would see approximately 30–40 people each day. But, one event that took place in 1979 completely redirected the course of his life.

The Beginning of Apollo

At first, Dr. Prathap’s father Raghav Reddy had visions of his son having a successful career in the business world. Nonetheless, Dr. Prathap’s enthusiasm for information technology inspired him to make an investment in the IT industry alongside his brother-in-law; however, fate had other ideas for him. Dr. Prathap sustained financial damage as a result of his unsuccessful investment in Intel. Dr. Prathap was still operating his medical practise when the untimely passing of a 38-year-old patient, who was survived by his wife and their three children, served as a wake-up call for him. The inability of that patient to collect a ransom in order to undergo a bypass surgery in the United States ultimately led to the patient’s demise. Both Dr. Prathap’s parents passed away around the same time; his father passed away from a cerebral haemorrhage, and his mother succumbed to the effects of cervical cancer. In addition to this, he was bereft of his dear buddy Kumara Raja Muthiah, who passed away unexpectedly after a heart attack. The tragic loss of many lives, including those of people close to him, inspired him to found an advanced medical institution of the highest calibre in India. Even though there were only few hospitals that provided good medical facilities at that time period, it was still not adequate for meeting the medical standards. This eventually resulted in the establishment of India’s first corporate healthcare network, which was given the name Apollo Hospitals.

It took him around four years and multiple journeys to New Delhi in order to secure the necessary approval to open his first hospital in Chennai. This permission was essential to set up the hospital. In the end, he was able to cultivate strong relationships with both Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi, the latter of whom offered Dr. Prathap assistance in establishing his hospital. He initially extended an invitation to Indira Gandhi to preside over the opening of his first hospital, but she politely rejected and instead advised that the Chief Guest be the President of India at the time. After the first Apollo hospital was opened in 1983 and inaugurated by Giani Zail Singh, who was the President of India at the time, the Apollo Hospitals organisation started its journey with approximately 150 beds. As a deeply spiritual individual, Dr. Prathap chose to honour Apollo, the Greek god of healing, light, music, law, and prophecy, by naming his hospital after him.

Currently, the super-specialty centre has expanded across the country with a chain that includes approximately 11 nursing colleges, 1,600 pharmacies, and 60 diagnostic clinics. In total, there are 55 hospitals in this network. As most people are looking forward to their retirement, Dr. Prathap was just getting his entrepreneurial career started. Yes! When he started Apollo Hospitals, he was already 50 years old; isn’t this an encouraging fact? In these modern times, it is not strange that he would propose the construction of a hospital that would serve the entire county. Yet, this was unquestionably a major advance that was made in the 1970s. His four daughters, Preetha, Suneetha, Shobana, and Sangita, all have important executive roles at Apollo. Preetha is the CEO of the company. These Reddy sisters have succeeded in managing the well-known hospital solely on the strength of their talent, despite the fact that they lack any educational background in medicine or management.

Awards and Commendations

Because of his outstanding contributions to the field of medicine, Dr. Prathap has been honoured with a number of renowned prizes. After being bestowed with the country’s highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan, in 1991, he was later decorated with the country’s second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibushan, in 2010. According to India Today’s list of India’s 50 Most Influential Persons for the year 2017, he came in at number 48.

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