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Healthcare startups should not go the e-commerce way: panellists at VCCircle summit

Healthcare-3Online healthcare startups should not mirror the hyper discounting strategy followed by e-commerce giants, according to industry executives at the VCCircle Healthcare Summit 2015.

“Healthcare should not go the e-commerce way in India. Startups need to build stickiness. You cannot have a scenario where users prefer a platform because he is getting discounts for the same doctor vis-à-vis another platform,” Varun Sood – CIO and head – strategic initiatives of Fortis Healthcare, said on the concluding day of the summit.

Startups in the healthcare space will have to build a high degree of trust with their customers.

Moreover, they will need to move beyond listings and provide core digital healthcare services. How would that be possible in a country where there is only one doctor for 1,700 patients?

“Doctor time is not being effectively used in India. While some doctors may be really busy, 50 per cent of doctors do not practise as much as they can. That’s where online ventures can come into the picture,” said Ajay Nair, managing director, MeraDoctor.

India produces roughly 50,000 doctors every year. Nair and Sood were part of a panel on ‘Digital health play in India – healthcare content management, patient and doctor management apps, online pharmacy, self-diagnostic devices and fitness bands.’

In fact, digital healthcare services and home healthcare would be the future growth drivers for the Indian wellness industry, industry watchers say.

“Home healthcare is going to be a multi-billion dollar market in India,” said Gareth Jones – chairman and director, Health Care at Home.

The segment has started getting traction and has drawn interest of entrepreneurs, investors and even large hospital chains. However, India needs to have more birthing care centres, they say.

Siddharth Dhondiyal, MD, IVFA, believes that the effort of a few players has paved the way towards organising the fragmented home healthcare space. He was speaking at the panel titled ‘Experiences of catalysing growth through investor capital – myth vs reality’.

Industry watchers advocate the use of technology for preventive healthcare. Increased adoption of fitness tracking gadgets and apps such as GOOQi and HealthifyMe are positive signs, they said.

“Problems in the healthcare space, namely that of accessibility, affordability and quality, are universal. The only way of solving the healthcare problem is by adopting preventive techniques,” Sood added.

About 200 entrepreneurs attended the concluding day of the summit.

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