Tech startups disrupt Indian healthcare sector in a big way: Rekuram Varadharaj of healthi
The healthcare industry in India is far from sufficient in handling the huge disease burden and general healthcare requirements of the country. Technology has thus been more critical and impactful in augmenting the traditional healthcare industry.
India currently has an addressable market of 2 million outpatient transactions, equal to the annual value of about $28 billion, and this is growing at 15% annually. Rekuram Varadharaj, co-founder and COO of healthi, in an email interview with Zee Business Online talked about various aspects of startups in India, and the prospects for technology-based ventures in healthcare space in the country.
How is technology disrupting the healthcare sector?
Technology has disrupted the Indian healthcare sector in a big way in recent years. The industry in India is far from sufficient in handling the huge disease burden and general healthcare requirements of the country. Technology has thus been more critical and impactful in augmenting the traditional healthcare industry. Technology-based healthcare startups are helping people adopt a proactive and preventive approach instead of the typical reactive scenario. Cutting-edge technology and tools reduce the chances of error and increase access to quality and affordable outpatient healthcare. The future of technology-based interventions in the Indian healthcare industry thus looks more promising than ever.
As a technology-driven platform, healthi has made it possible for users to access a wide range of healthcare services seamlessly through a one-stop approach. healthi uses predictive analytics, personalisation technology and a compelling user experience to help users effectively navigate their health journey. With us, users readily understand where they are in their health journey; what the next step is and why they should take it; and who can help. Some of our to-be-patented IP includes chronic disease risk prediction models and personalized engagement algorithms.
What are the key challenges in the healthcare sector today?
As the patients are now more concern of their health, the following challenges need to be addressed in the healthcare sector today.
* India has one of the lowest per capita healthcare expenditures in the world. While the government contribution to insurance is about 32%, there are also high out-of-pocket expenses in India. This is because about 76% Indians do not have health insurance.
*Patients demand better service given that they pay for their healthcare. Thus, there is likely to be tougher competition in attracting and retaining patients. This will create the need for better user engagement including things like self-service to resolve most questions, issues, or concerns, such as downloading an immunization record, booking an appointment, etc.
*Access to up-to-date patient information from a centralized location is another challenge. Enabling this will help in delivering better patient experience and avoid any mishaps such as drug interactions.
What are the problems healthi address? Please tell us about your services?
Users struggle to find health solutions that are deemed to be opaque and one-size-fits-all; and require significant effort to comply. Most users have more than one need at any given time. Health needs and priorities often change over time. About 90% of healthcare problems are outpatient related, which are treated in the outpatient section of the hospitals. In most of such cases, users often meet the doctor for a very short duration – the average for half the world’s population is less than 5 minutes; in India, the average is 2 minutes.
User’s health outcomes are driven by what they do outside the doctor’s clinic and how they seek appropriate help when they need. There is a need to provide personalised and convenient access to healthcare in the country. The technology is already available; the need of the hour is to further strengthen and support the digital healthcare landscape and turn it into a robust alternative system, especially as far as the outpatient intervention is concerned.
healthi is thus a one-stop platform, enabling users located across 200 cities in India to seamlessly book desired services. We provide them with the option to identify the most suitable health service according to their needs. By integrating analytics to provide personalized recommendations and services, healthi proves to be a reliable and absolutely safe single-point digital health manager.
healthi analyses numerous variables including a user’s health history, family health background, relevant lifestyle attributes along with the results from various services to provide personalised and easy-to-understand insights on the state of the users' health and next steps. Whether it is a diagnostic test, health check-up, medical consultation, medicines, nutrition consultation, management of chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension, a user can easily book them on healthi. We offer customised and hassle-free access to all the healthcare-related requirements for users.
Have you received any funding and what are your growth plans?
healthi received $3.1 million in a funding round led by Montane Ventures, a VC firm backed by the Piramal Family Office. We plan to expand our digital health outreach into the East and South East Asian markets over the next 12 to 18 months.
How the market adoption has been for your services?
Our user-base has grown by over 12 times between January 2018 and March 2019. healthi is well set to have a 2.5 million-strong user-base in India by December 2019.
We have constantly received user satisfaction ratings and maintained retention rates of over 90%+, which are the best in the world. healthi’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is a user satisfaction rating parameter, is 70. Compared to the average for the overall healthcare industry as recorded by Accenture is about 9, healthi is almost 8 times better than the industry averages.
It is our personalised approach, use of technology, and superior user experience that have helped drive 2 times better user compliance. Simply put, a larger number of users with healthi get better outcomes.
What is the addressable market size and which are the other key players in this segment?
India currently has an addressable market of 2 million outpatient transactions, equal to annual value of about $28 billion, and this is growing at 15% annually. User engagement in healthcare is a universal need. There are some of the global players in this segment include Accolade Health, Abacus Insights, etc.
They use data, analytics and personalisation to drive effective healthcare experiences; something which is healthi’s USP in the Indian market.