According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), in terms of revenue and employment, healthcare is one of the largest sectors in India. In fact, the overall size of the Indian healthcare industry is expected to cross USD 280 billion by 2020.
The lucrative nature of this market has attracted an increasing number of domestic and foreign start-ups to this segment. Despite the complex nature of this sector, the urban-rural divide in the country, and the lack health-related infrastructure, a few healthcare entrepreneurs have managed to successfully establish their start-ups.
Here are six things these start-ups are doing differently to remain successful in the Indian healthcare space.
1. Offering Value for Money
The chronic problem for every business remains to create a truly innovative and valued product or service that customers are willing to pay for. This holds true in the healthcare space too. Healthcare entrepreneurs must realize that value for money is not merely about the cost, it encompasses the entire experience that comes along with using the services offered to their customers.
Consequently, healthcare start-ups must strive to meet their customers’ functional and emotional needs. For instance, the functional needs of a doctor may include saving time, organizing his/her calendar, and/or offering hassle-free services to his/her patients. Similarly, his/her emotional needs may comprise of improving his/her reputation in the medical field.
Too many start-ups are caught up with their products and services and evaluating the profits made therein.
As a healthcare entrepreneur, you must focus on creating value and meaning for your customers and enhancing their experience. To make a start-up profitable, consider the various functional and emotional elements that will resonate with healthcare professionals and judiciously incorporate them as a part of your overall strategy.
2. Building Trust amongst Users
Numerous Indian hospitals are over-burdened with inadequate medical facilities and poorly-qualified health professionals. Moreover, the country’s doctor-patient ratio is extremely poor in cities (1:1674) and villages (1:60,000). Amidst this healthcare crisis, doctors find it extremely tough to look up to technology-based healthcare start-ups.
Furthermore, owing to the highly regulated and complex nature of this sector, healthcare professionals are highly wary of sharing their patient data with companies. This makes it imperative for start-ups to work on building their credibility and trust-factor.
Assure early-adopters that their personal information will be secure. Acquiring official recognition and certifications from government agencies and medical associations is another way to increase your credibility. For instance, an approval or recommendation from the Indian Medical Association can go a long way in building trust amongst physicians.
Offering solutions to safeguarding patients’ information can enable hospitals and healthcare professionals to store their patients’ private information in a secure manner.
Technology coupled with innovative ways to protect sensitive data will help improve your start-up’s reputation, increasing your chances of long-term success.
3. Encouraging Doctors to Go Digital
More than 60 percent of Indians reside in villages with limited access to hospitals, qualified healthcare specialists, and medical facilities. Healthcare start-ups must use technology to offer services such as telemedicine that can cater to patients in remote villages.
The increased smartphone penetration in India can also be used to offer digital platforms that connect doctors to patients. In recent times, numerous healthcare mobile applications are enabling doctors to improve their digital presence throughout the country. Tech-savvy doctors who see immense value in going digital further encourage their peers and patients to follow suit.
Involving key opinion leaders in marketing endeavours will help you get valuable insights pertaining to this sector. Consequently, physicians will act as mentors for your start-up, contributing at various stages of the product lifecycle, from research and development to devising marketing strategies.
This will not only enable you to understand your customers better, but also help doctors determine the role of technology in improving their clinical practice.
4. Walking the Talk
Healthcare is a serious sector and errors and/or delays in services are inexcusable. Likewise, unfulfilled promises too can severely impact the brand image and clientele of the new venture. Moroever, this sector is so intertwined that if one healthcare start-up fails to deliver its promises, the entire industry suffers.
It is natural for a start-up to over-commit in order to increase its customer base. However, over-the-top promises can have disastrous consequences for a healthcare start-up. For instance, offering unreliable medical services and employing poorly-qualified doctors and care providers can prove fatal to the patients’ lives and your reputation.
As an entrepreneur in the healthcare domain, you must bear the above-mentioned aspects in mind to ensure lasting success of your establishment.
5. Working with the Healthcare Giants
Healthcare is an established sector with numerous hospitals, regulators, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies competing for their market share. Owing to its enormous potential, this market has also attracted technology giants such as Google, Apple, and IBM to operate and invest in this domain.
In the face of such tough competition, it is wise to work along with the established brands in order to offer innovative products and services to customers. For instance, if you own a health insurance start-up, consider collaborating with Google Capital or any other dominant venture capital firm to offer innovative services such as telehealth assistance and other fitness incentives for your customers.
Joint initiatives with established brands in the healthcare sector will not only improve your start-up’s credibility, but also offer you an opportunity to gain work with seasoned players in this segment.
6. Being Patient
The sales cycle of the healthcare sector is elongated owing its slow growth and delayed monetization. This sector directly deals with the well-being of patients, therefore a lot of time and energy is spent in getting over the legal and regulatory hurdles.
At times, it may take months or even years for your start-up to accrue profits or even break-even.
Work towards building a long-term strategy that can help you survive the initial years when the overheads are likely to surpass your start-up’s income. A well-thought business plan and a little patience will enable you to attract funds from venture capitalists, taking your start-up to the next level.
Successfully establishing a healthcare start-up is extremely challenging, especially due to the complex nature of the Indian healthcare sector. The above-mentioned factors are crucial to the success of a healthcare start-up and will help you establish a profitable venture in the long run.