Calling all Healthcare Senators…

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Updated: September 08, 2016 2:00 PM

The healthcare sector in India has many pain points but that is precisely why it has attracted so much attention from entrepreneurs, both new age start-ups, as well as the old world players

201609ehm04The healthcare sector in India has many pain points but that is precisely why it has attracted  so much attention from entrepreneurs, both new age start-ups, as well as the old world players. The first category, like all start-ups are probably referred to as ‘upstarts’ for disrupting the status quo, are sharp-eyed about identifying problems and finding solutions. The second kind of start ups could be spin offs from India’s blue blooded business families, who are today global names, ranging from IT to realty, and have chosen to invest in the healthcare sector due to a mix of philanthrophy and hard-nosed business sense.

Thus it is no wonder that the NASSCOM Start-up Ecosystem Report 2015 found that 6-8 per cent of the recent B2C start-ups in India have been in the healthtech sector. In fact, technologies have transformed most sectors and now it is the turn of healthcare. The sector is hurtling towards change at a pace seldom seen before and as our cover story analyses, digital technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, Internet of Things and nanotechnology are being implemented in different avataars, from aggregating doctor appointments, to minimally invasive surgeries. But while these have great potential to transform healthcare delivery, there is always a flip side. Will they add to the cost? Will they protect patient identity? (See cover story in the Express Healthcare September 2016 issue, And the digital revolution begins …, pages 18-27)

The NASSCOM Start-up Ecosystem Report 2015 also reveals that India has the fastest growing start-up-base worldwide but as someone holding recently commented, are all of them confronting real world problems? Or are some of them merely jumping onto the band wagon, hoping that the rising tide of angel fund flows raises their boat too and then waiting to exit?

For instance, there are a number of sites and apps promising to streamline the painfull procedure of getting an appointment with the right doctor. But are their business models differentiated enough to ride out the rough patches as they scale up? Will all of them survive the scrutiny of investors who will hold them to their ambitious targets? Many of them will fade away, while some will be acquired as consolidation sets in. This is what is happening in India’s booming e-commerce sector, with Flipkart and Snapdeal exploring a merger to take on their deep-pocketed MNC rival Amazon.

This is still a long way off for health-focussed start ups but it pays to learn from the mistakes of others. We hope our upcoming event, Healthcare Senate, from September 22-24 at HICC Hyderabad, will see discussions that will throw up new ways of looking at old problems.

The patient-driven innovation session brings together start ups at various stages of their journey, as well as funders who sit on the other side of the deal table. Another session at Healthcare Senate will pick the brains of CXOs who have to navigate the perennial ropewalk between balancing profitability with responsibility 24x7x365 as well as new models of raising capital. We have a good mix of gurus and shishyas, as well as clinical practitioners turned healthcare management pros, who are today the backbone of many corporate hospital chains, as CXOs heading their hospitals into the next phase of growth.

But our Healthcare Senators will not just focus on revenue flows. As the draft Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 makes its way through Parliament for approval, we are sure the medico-legal-ethical aspects of the bill will also be debated thread bare. One of our panelists in this session, Dr Suganthi Iyer, Deputy Director, PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mumbai gives a preview of her views on the factors deciding medico-legal claims and compensation issues.

The September Express Healthcare issue, as a curtain raiser to the event, has insightful articles from some of our panelists, presenting divergent opinions. For instance while doctors dissuade their children from following in their footsteps, a healthcare entrepreneur recounts his thrilling ride as “challenging but satisfying.”

The Express Healthcare September issue ends with ‘What does it mean to be a leader’, the distilled wisdom of some of the outstanding men and women who have shaped healthcare in India. Their grit, financial acumen, compassion for the patient combined with a passion for excellence, will continue to push the boundaries of success and inspire future leaders. This edition features 11 such leaders who have in their own individual way, redefined their spaces. We hope to feature many more prominent personalities and their Leadership Mantras in the future editions of Express Healthcare. And of course, hear some of them live at Healthcare Senate. See you in Hyderabad!

Viveka Roychowdhury

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