Digital health will never ever replace physical health care says Shipra Dawar, Founder and CEO, IWill and ePsyClinic

“One principle that one needs to follow is never ever profiteer at the cost of someone's well being,” says Shipra Dawar, Founder and CEO, IWill and ePsyClinic

A chief executive officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking executive in a company, whose primary responsibilities include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors, the board, corporate operations and being the public face of the company.

Shipra Dawar, Founder and CEO, IWill, and ePsyClinic is a leading Mental Health player in the healthcare industry.

IWill is the first structured therapy app in the world with a premium therapy space that drives great results for those dealing with mental health issues in the comfort of their homes.

ePsyClinic is the largest counseling space in India with an experience of over 5,00,000 proper counseling sessions, several governments like Haryana Government, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Government Departments, and large enterprise partnerships, and an inclusive mental health platform. 

Digital health and physical health care need to co-exist

Shipra shares her thoughts, “The key challenge is how to make healthcare services affordable, accessible and available when a person needs it. The answer to this is a digital health and the reason why digital health is because we have doctors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, or any specialty are largely concentrated in the top tier one or tier two cities while the need for healthcare and quality consultation exists pan India as we are a country of 1.3 billion people. So really to make quality health care available as it is to a Delhi citizen to somebody sitting in a very remote area in Bihar and ask them, you need to have a solid digital solution that enables it. So that's the number one reason in terms of accessibility and now availability, in case I need a doctor at the wee hours of the night I had a panic attack. I need to speak to my therapist at 12 in the night. What do I do, I can't run to a clinic; I can’t run to a hospital. But if I have a digital health solution, I can access it in time. And then talk about affordability, if we are able to run consultation, at least a big part of our healthcare value chain online, virtually, we are cutting the cost down in terms of operations, we're not cutting the cost down on the quality of the clinical care or the quality of the doctor, but the associated extra costs that come with it and this benefits as we can pass it on to the end customer. It's not something which no company should ever profit; you're at the cost of someone's well being for the good thing. So I think for a country like ours, digital health along with the physical health structure and the integration of it, and the sync of it is so important. Digital health will never ever replace physical health care. But these two need to co-exist and this pandemic has only accelerated the step towards that direction. So really, digital health is one. The other for affordability, accessibility, and availability is, we need to have a bigger insurance play in this country as well, a lot of the developed countries that we know have a lot of their health care whether they are people with pre-existing conditions, and a lot of it is covered through insurance. But we've just tiptoed on it as a country, we still need better insurance models that suit the country demographic, the kind of country that we are, we can't just bring in any model from the west and try and put it to, but universal coverage is one area that we need to work on, and where our focus needs to get in and I am seeing, under the leadership of our current Prime Minister and the government has already started talking about a national digital health mission and a lot of things around that. So digital health and universal health care coverage are really the two levers which will help us solve to a larger degree, this problem of triple-A that exists in India,” she says.

Bringing back smiles on someone's face

Shipra shares her thoughts, “I would say that it's been humbling, when it comes to really bring back smiles on someone's face, when it's about helping someone, specifically as we work in mental health. So a lot of other people who are seeking help from the platform, are those who have given up sometimes on themselves, they could be the top CEOs, they could be anyone, but it's just that they don't feel good within, so to return that life, liveliness to them, and to some the livelihood, and for some saving their lives, I think that is the biggest and humbling experience that anyone can have. Of course, healthcare is one industry, there is a lot of innovation needed. A lot of patience is needed, you need to work with very different stakeholders, you're working with doctors, therapists, tech teams, patients, and you're managing this universe of very different sets of working with a very different set of expectations, to bring all of that on one platform definitely becomes a challenge at times, but then one only moves forward. One has to really brace oneself to be in the healthcare entrepreneurship sector or entrepreneurship because it isn't as easy. And the other thing is that you have to keep your ethics at the top of everything. Because while in other industries, you can get away with certain things with health care, the one principle that one needs to follow is never ever profiteer at the cost of someone's well being. So when you're doing that your growth and your progress initially can be slow. So you need a lot of patience to cross that chasm to cross those barriers that come but eventually, it's rewarding, it's humbling, and it is exhilarating. And it's exciting because you are sitting at the brink of innovation and you're sitting in at that cusp of, you know, innovation and life,” she says,

Health is always the most important

Shipra sheds light on the future of healthcare, “Primary focus of an individual is number one. So health was always said to be most important, but it was never believed to be most important. Like, we always kept our work first and kept our other things first and held you to always take a backseat. So the one change that the pandemic has done for good is that it has brought health before the wealth, that it needed to be in the minds of people, the consumer and the health care customer or the patient or the family has understood that nothing before health, literally. So that's the first thing so, in the future, we are definitely going to see even if we have passed the pandemic to people really taking care of their health. The second, of course, is digital health, there's no way that we are going back to not having digital health as a very integral part of the healthcare value chain. On the contrary, we would see more and more movement of traditionally non-digital healthcare, no value chain or supply chain segments getting into the digital health side. So that is second, the third, of course, is ethical use of AI to help a clinician, make a better diagnosis, make a better treatment plan, which is totally assisted. So, AI will not be replacing a clinician, will not be replacing a doctor but it will play an assistant role in this. And that is also one of the future trends that we cannot run away from, it's going to be there. So those are really the top three that I see happening. And number four is, I do feel a lot of participation now from the public sector would also increase because from our own experience, in the pandemic, we saw that public-private partnership, even for I will only say clinic, we worked with seven governments on a public-private partnership model. So this will become the model of the future as well, partly with you will see our public health sector really improving and becoming better and better with a lot of work done to the private companies as well,” she says.

Primary needs of health should be met

Shipra talks on the topic of GDP, “It cannot go without enough stress on this point that we need more spending off the GDP on health care. One of the things I can never say why it kept at the backseat as it was but one of the reasons why it should be, ahead of everything on the GDP budget is because when you take care of the health when the primary needs of health are met, for the citizens, you absolutely increase productivity, the burden of cost that otherwise then falls on families, and then ultimately on the nation. And also you ensure a much healthier and a more productive and a better society. So absolutely, we need to do that as the focus and also healthcare should contribute more to the GDP as well. There are a lot of healthcare models that are rising that need to rise if you look at the investments in health care. So while you would see venture capital and PE funds investing a lot of money in other companies that are in e-commerce or are in FinTech if you compare that to health tech, it isn't as much so that needs to also increase because we need to generate more employment, we need to generate good models of healthcare, and then of course, as a larger ecosystem as a country, we need to spend more because even the basic needs of the individual on a pan India level are unfortunately not met. In the last 3-4 months, a lot of focus, a lot of planning, and a lot of implementation has already started in ramping up the work on healthcare by the government, I just hope and I'm sure that this trend should continue and 2020 or 2021 onwards this should be the era of supreme healthcare like we had an era of IT, we really need to put health care, wellness on the top of every list that we have. And I just hope you know that people who make policies and the people who implement them are listening, because that's the need of the hour,” she says.

(Edited by Rabia Mistry Mulla)


Contributed By: Shipra Dawar, Founder and CEO, IWill, and ePsyClinic 
Tags : #TopCEOs2020 #ShipraDawar #ePsyClinic #IWill #founder #mentalhealth #healthcare #socialentrepreneur #digitalhealth #telehealth #smitakumar #Top-CEO-in-Healthcare-Series

About the Author

Rabia Mistry Mulla

'For vessels to change their course, they have to be hit by a strong wind first!'
So here I am penning down my thoughts on health and research after 6 years of planning Diets.
Being a Clinical Dietitian & a Diabetes Educator I always had a thing for writing, alas, been hit by the winds towards a new course!
You can write to me at [email protected]

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