The Aravind Eye Care Model

Aravinda Eye Hospitals need no introduction.

Founded by Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy (fondly called Dr.V) in 1976, it has grown from just 11 beds in a small building in Madurai to a network of eye hospitals containing 4,000+ spread across many cities.


According to executive director R.D. Thulasiraj, 65 per cent of the total surgeries in Aravind Eye Hospital were performed either free of cost or heavily subsidized rates. The hospital contributed to 45% of the total cataract surgeries done in Tamil Nadu, making a significant dent in eradicating cataract-related blindness in India.

As of 2012, Aravind has treated nearly 32 million patients and performed 4 million surgeries, the majority of them being cheap or free making it the world’s largest and most productive eye-care service group.

The model of Aravind Eye Care hospitals has been applauded and has become a subject for numerous case studies across the world, including premium schools like Harvard Business School, and Indian Institutes of Management.

What intrigues business enthusiasts about it is their sustainable model whereby the free patient care is provided through the revenue generated from the paying patients without raising any donations from any sources. The model was driven by Dr. V, who wanted to replicate the service efficiency of McDonalds fast food into the eye care system to cope with increasing the numbers of patients requiring treatment.

As a result, Aravind started performing 5 times the number of cataract surgeries that were performed in the entire country and 16 times more than that of the entire U.S.

Substantial innovation has been done on majorly three fronts in order to achieve a successful enterprise. These are as follows:

  • Innovation on the product front – They started manufacturing ophthalmic lenses under the aegis of AuroLabs, instead of importing them. This stabilized supply, and reduced the cost of lens from $100 to a mere $5.
  • Innovation in the process – They use assembly line processes which helps the doctors to perform 6-8 surgeries per hour with the help of sufficient number of paramedics as compared to the normal rate of 1-2 surgeries per hour.
  • Innovation in approach – They have employed mobile vans which increases their reach by relaying information to the doctors through telemedicine.

Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must also be the joy of doing something beautiful. Being of service to God and humanity means going well beyond the sophistication of the best technology, to the humble demonstration of courtesy and compassion to each patient.– Dr.G.Venkataswamy

The Jagriti Train will visit the Aravind Eye Care Hospital on the 28th of December.