Remember the old adage, ‘prevention is better than cure?’ Vidal Healthcare is taking this cliché seriously to provide a complete healthcare and wellness solution for the new age, high-stressed working professionals.
“Preventive healthcare market is approximately Rs. 4000 crores with the potential to grow to as much as Rs. 50000 crores in the next five to six years. While it is dominated by the corporate sector, there is a big opportunity in the retail space. Vidal Healthcare was started to pursue the huge and potentially lucrative market opportunity in strengthening the delivery of primary care services, by incorporating two elements — preventive healthcare and wellness,” says Srivathsan Aparajithan, CEO, Primary Healthcare at Vidal Healthcare Services Private Limited.
Vidal Healthcare is a health management and services company, headquartered in Bangalore. It works on a multi-pronged approach of wellness, preventive health and everyday health. It monitors your wellness score and helps you improve it with its high-tech wellness programs which include health risk assessments, screening, nutrition counselling, stress counselling, tobacco cessation and more.
Vidal Healthcare also offers corporate health services such as Zindagi Plus, Healthwise, Pre-fit, Healthex and Healthy Living. These are conceptualized to help people attain equilibrium of physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual fitness for complete well-being. Vidal Healthcare has developed well-being programs with Miliman, A.D.A.M., Merck, AyurVAID Hospitals, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation for Health Education and others.
Their wellness programs are aimed at bringing about behavior change through consumer health engagement and target factors that influence behavior and prevent or help change.
Srivathsan has two decades of experience as a senior executive and advisor in the healthcare and healthcare IT sectors. He has worked with large established organizations like Apollo Hospitals, IBM and Healthways and also in mid-size entrepreneurial businesses. He holds an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and a B Tech from the IIT Madras. He discusses various aspects of healthcare services in India and what Vidal is trying to achieve.
The problem and Vidal’s solution
India has made tremendous progress in setting up world class hospital infrastructure in the last two decades. But this has created a situation where more people are choosing to go to a large hospital or clinics run by large hospitals, even when they only need to consult a doctor for a routine problem. They travel large distances, wait in long queues to see a doctor, and end up spending more money on consultations, investigations and sometimes quite unnecessary procedures too.
Srivathsan says, “Maybe they are unaware that hospitals are over-engineered to meet their everyday healthcare needs. Of course, hospital charges tend to be much higher because they have a big building, fancy interiors, and lots of expensive equipment. India can ill afford a healthcare system that is hospital centric. ”
Vidal has a consumer centric model in which individuals take charge of their own health and make decisions based on their goals, values and tolerance for risk. This requires people to be thoroughly aware of their health status and treatment options. When it comes to treatments, they are supported by physicians who help them make decisions based on their value systems and eventually bring down the overall cost of medical treatment.
In a relatively short period of less than two years, Vidal Healthcare has acquired quite a few clients which include corporations, SMEs and even startups across sectors like manufacturing, pharma, consumer products, IT and ITES, banking and financial services. More than 30,000 individuals have participated in their various programs till now.
They depend on a sales team to acquire corporate clients. “We are seeing employers wanting to create budgets for various wellness programs and find our consultative approach useful and effective. Since most of them are only now starting to allocate budgets for this, it will take a couple of years for the market to see hyper growth,” says Srivathsan.
Vidal Healthcare’s competitors include hospitals and other wellness companies. “We differentiate ourselves from our competitors through our high-tech yet high-touch offerings which result in a culture of wellness in the workplace and at home. We have extensive touch points to facilitate participation, comprehensive risk profiling and data driven identification of intervention areas for maximum impact,” he adds.
Mission to make wellness a priority
Health is not yet high priority for most people and getting them to pay for programs designed to help them improve their health, as opposed to treating them for illness or disease, takes a lot of effort from Vidal’s end. “We also have to compete for a share of their wallets against other discretionary spending priorities like entertainment, for instance. Even when an employer is footing the bill, there is a lot of inertia among the employees to participate in these programs because they do not perceive an immediate tangible benefit,” says Srivathsan. Their programs typically run for a full year. Individuals or employers pay a fixed amount per employee that covers various elements like assessments, biometric screening, counselling and coaching.
Srivathsan feels that everyone can improve their health through wellness. Wellness is an active process of moving towards a better physical, social, mental, emotional and even spiritual state of being. Making a commitment toward wellness has its rewards. One of the outcomes is that people will be much more likely to prevent lifestyle diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression. And even when they are at risk they’ll be armed with the right tools and strategies to cope.
He believes that 90 % of all healthcare needs can be easily delivered in outpatient settings or physician offices. And 80 % of all chronic diseases can be prevented. However, even the best clinical care in the world cannot ensure the best health outcomes since patients’ behaviour patterns substantially affect their health outcomes. To truly optimize outcomes for their patients, physicians will have to go beyond the simple provision of clinical services. They will need to forge partnerships with patients to address behavioral patterns.
Five percent of the population will require hospital based services. Not only must they be equipped with financial solutions to deal with the typically high expenses associated with hospitalization, they must also be able to navigate the treatment landscape in a manner that does not overwhelm them.