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Apollo Hospitals Group has joined hands with IBM for setting up a healthcare superhighway that will connect physicians, hospitals and nursing homes across the world in a year. The group is also in talks with Microsoft for this project.

"The 50:50 joint venture between the companies will facilitate use of IT for improving healthcare offerings. Our aim is to touch all physicians and hospitals across the world so that they can share medical information and treatment expertise. It will help small hospitals to improve their offerings and learn from others while we get to expand our reach," said Pratap C Reddy, chairman of Apollo Group.

He said in the first phase, the project would connect 150 centres in four zones of the country. "Eventually, we will expand the project to connect with leading institutes in the world. Microsoft has also expressed interest to provide technology and we are evaluating the offer," he said.

The hospital group is also planning to launch a major telemedicine project in May. "It will connect 52 African countries and online healthcare services will be provided through it. Besides Apollo, nine other Indian hospitals including All India Institute of Medical Science and Narayana Hrudayalaya are part of this project," he said.

Talking about the company's acquisition plans in the UK, he said, the group is in talks with two hospital chains. "Due diligence is on and we expect to finalize the deal by this year-end," he said. Dr Reddy indicated that one of the firms the group is talking to is Abbey hospital chain. "We are looking at synergies in terms of manpower, management expertise and technological advantages including IT and accordingly, we will select one venture," he said. However, he refused to share the deal size. "Several venture capitalists including Blackstone Group have come forward to finance the deal," he added.

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