To set a bit of context, I was invited by a leading B-school in Mumbai, India to talk about Digital Marketing for their PGDM – Healthcare specialisation. This post is dedicated to the students over there!
I am thankful for the opportunity as it offered me a chance to study the fledgling online healthcare industry more closely. Besides, it also gave me a quick heads up on how the ‘300 pound Gorillas’ of the healthcare industry are trying to use Online as a medium.
Problems being tapped by Online Healthcare startups –
While doing my research found the following themes around which top healthcare startups are focussing on –
What is particularly curious about these themes are the following facts of the healthcare industry-
Augment, Conquer or Replace
Currently the Online space from a healthcare space is in an ‘Augment’ space. Most startups are essentially augmenting existing infrastructure, something similar to what happened in the travel sector in the 2000s
Healthcare industry forces
Healthcare stands out in a major way because of the skill level of the industry. The doctors have a lot of power in the sector, which is being challenged in two ways –
- Big Hospital chains trying to make doctors dependent on them
- Heavy investments needed which makes starting and sustaining smaller hospitals tougher
Supply constrained industry
At some level, particularly in India, Healthcare has become a tremendously supply constrained industry (supply of new doctors is limited) and will continue to become so. Today, choosing Doctor as a career path implies a long road from an education perspective. Hands on experience is something only a few Government hospitals can adequately provide, which makes any first generation doctor’s life even that bit harder. Given these structural problems, online startups are focussing on the augmentation aspect and rightly so.
Can Online Fit in to today’s realities?
How will the online industry reshape the balance of power in the Healthcare setup? Can it actually do so over the period of 20 odd years? Can online actually help doctors earn more? These and other questions are coming into play now.
Demand Channelising as an entry strategy
So what have most startups found as a solution to this – The solution is to crack the Demand channelising Problem. Online healthcare startups have a massive opportunity in actually channelising demand. Demand for healthcare is growing and will continue to do so. Is there a play for the Online startups to take up significant marketshare here? Perhaps Yes. This is the place where startups like ZocDoc in US and Practo in India are taking large strides.
Lastly, How should students take advantage of this change?
Well, let me start the lecture series first! Then I shall publish more on this!