Infographic, Strategy

Online healthcare startups & how they are trying to scale

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 –

Online healthcare startups in India

Problems being solved by Online Healthcare startups in India

What is particularly curious about these themes are the following facts of the healthcare industry-

  1. 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

  2. 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
  3. 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.

  4. 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! 

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Planning, Public Issues

Issues of today’s India

This is an article by our guest strater – Sasmita Patnaik – a student from XIM , Bhubaneshwar. We thank her for her thoughts and hope she would continue writing on strat.in!

Today we often talk of concepts like Globalization and World Economy. While we reinforce these ideas again and again, what we tend to ignore is the reach and impact of these concepts. Do we ever think of what these mean to a man in a village in rural India where more than half of Indian population lives or to an illiterate housewife. They say India engulfs an America and an Africa in her. On one hand while Delhi is looking forward to launch the Common wealth games hoping it would bring great publicity, exposure and opportunity to the nation, there is another part of India that is struggling to locate itself even on local maps of District Authorities. The question here is not if we should stop focusing on events like the Commonwealth Games and Olympics that India aspires to host in 2020 but if the focus is balanced. As much as we need to work at increasing opportunities, it is equally important to ensure that these opportunities created are accessible to all sections. Can we look at alternative modes of passing on the benefits of the Globalization to the ones who are indirectly an integral part of world economy? No one may recognize the individual farmer who cultivates crops, but he definitely is a part of our nation’s export economy. Recently the finance minister of our country came up with this idea o having cluster meetings with banks once in 3 months instead of annual meetings. This was done to ensure that smaller banks have a say in the meetings and are able to express their opinions more openly. If the government is looking at making the meetings more Participative, why can’t we come up with similar models of ensuring participation at grass roots. We have tried to integrate villages with nearby town economies. Why not look at a village – village integration, where the villages are interdependent for raw materials or markets. There are several small villages which cannot become self sustainable unless they are provided with adequate infrastructure and employment opportunities. It becomes too expensive for the government to develop infrastructure for smaller villages and settlements. So, the government could look at integrating smaller villages with larger ones and bring in cost effectiveness.

In a recent edition of The Hindu they talked of the recent HDR report 2009 making a strong case for removing barriers to migration within and across borders, arguing that human movement had brought about all round benefits and could potentially improve the lives of millions of poor and low skilled people.

This era is actually challenging age old beliefs that we thought were the ultimate way of doing things. The entire perspective of looking at migration as Brain Drain is being challenged today. The HDR report says majority of migration happens not between the developed and developing nations but within the country. 1 billion i.e. One out of seven people the world over are migrants. Internal migrants are four times as many as those who have moved internationally (740 million). 70 million have moved from developing to developed countries but 200 million actually between developing or developed countries.1 Migration has led to increase in income levels, better access to health and education and improved prospects for their children. Research in United States found that a 1.3% increase in share of migrant university graduates increased the number of patents by 15%. Mobility brought new ideas, knowledge and resources besides job opportunities.

It is a time to rethink our approach. Instead of suggesting a new model every time completely shunning the existing system, there by incurring additional costs of setting up new infrastructure and institutions. For example, instead of completely discarding the idea of Seasonal Employment and trying to provide the community with some occupation they haven’t even heard of, could we think of some similar set of seasonal occupations which could provide the community livelihood for the entire year? Sometimes one seasonal engagement could provide you more money than an all year job. Moreover, the community inculcates a habit of saving which is a positive development. Again, this saving may go into investments increasing our GDP ultimately.

Many scholars in their great works have talked of societies making a choice for themselves. But is it the fact? Most of the times it is the influential people, a few opinion leaders who decide for the people at large. The case is the same for rural and urban scenario. Therefore, the true opinion never comes affront. Therefore instead of looking at issues individually; we should look at them in a holistic manner. Before passing a judgment about something currently in practice being good or bad, it is very important that we evaluate the pros and cons very carefully and not just shut our minds completely.

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