Talking to SupportBiz, Thirupathy shared some key insights on trends in the healthcare industry and his own experience of being an entrepreneur. Edited excerpts:
What are the strong trends in the Indian healthcare market?
Our exposure in the Indian market is skewed towards our interaction with corporate India and hence we can only talk about the trends pertaining to this sector. First and foremost is the overall health risk amongst corporates. Corporate India is sitting on a ticking bomb in terms of lifestyle diseases. Diabetes, blood pressure and stress are more prevalent than people would want to accept. Organizations which spend on group mediclaim policies are helping employees cover their parents’ health concerns and maternity related expenses, but this is definitely not helping employees’ lead a healthy life. This needs a very structured approach and that is exactly where we come into the picture.
Secondly, with rising group mediclaim costs, organizations are increasingly looking at ways and means to curtail this expense. Some look at the short term, while a select few look at the long term. We help organizations reduce group mediclaim costs in the long term. It would typically take a minimum of three to five years for an organization to appreciate group mediclaim cost reduction, by investments in structured health risk assessment and management programs, along with companies like HealthcareMagic. The key is to stay invested and also conduct periodic course corrections to ensure that healthcare investments are well tuned to one’s organizational needs.
What is your core market focus and go-to-market strategy?
HealthcareMagic is an online platform that connects healthcare professionals (GPs, Specialists, Dietitians, Counselors etc) to the end users, online, who have health related questions. For example, if an online user wants to ask a cardiology related question, a cardiologist will answer his questions for a small fee within a couple of hours. The user can get the answer at HealthcareMagic.com. The user can also attach reports / photos etc with the question. HealthcareMagic’s services are being delivered through three channels -- online retail; the enterprise segment including SMEs /large companies; insurance companies. We have signed up with over 54 companies in India to provide services to its employees and dependents. Our services are bundled with health insurance policies and sold along with the policy.
What are the key challenges in the healthcare industry?
The fundamental challenge from our perspective is that there is inadequate importance being given to health. In India, we do not realize that health is so important that it entails investments in terms of time and money to give amazing long term returns. Let me explain.
People do not visit a doctor when ill because of a few factors – lethargy or they think that their health issue is not a priority as it is not interfering with their day-to-day work. They also do not factor in the time and money they save by not seeing a Doctor when they have a minor health issue, which, if not treated, couldresult in a huge bill when the issue becomes chronic. Many people visit a doctor when the health issue may be out of hand. Fundamentally there is a lack of awareness about pro-active healthcare and its long-term benefits.
What will be the key differentiators and drivers for your business?
By giving ease of access to end users, we feel that they are more empowered, with better access to qualified information. We believe this will convert to better healthcare decisions.
Corporate users of HealthcareMagic get access to the following services online:
· Ask a Doctor – General medical advice
· Ask a Specialist – Advice for complex medical queries
· Speak to a Counselor – Advice for stress and issues of a personal nature
· Speak to a Nutritionist – Advice on what to eat and what not to
· Speak to a Doctor on phone – 24X7
· 24 Hour Medical advocate support
Where would you like to see your business in two years time?
In the long term (three years), we see ourselves as the preferred wellness partner of a majority of health insurance companies; and corporate India (big and small) using our platform. We expect our doctor network to grow from 3,500 specialists to over 15,000 specialists in the same time period.
We are also investing in technologies that will enable us to reach out to people who do not have PCs at home and can use our services via their hand-held devices.