Dr. Parveez Ubed, Founder and CEO, ERC – Eye Care, is an Ophthalmologist by profession who started working towards a mission "to help people see better, so they live a better life", with an affordable omnichannel design for eye care delivery. Currently, he is working on tech-enabled delivery modules, exploring the use of AI & Machine Learning, in an effort to democratize digital health (eye) care for the people in India & South-East Asia.
ERC Eyecare is an award-winning affordable omnichannel eye care service provider. We provide people with access to affordable solutions to eye care, like affordable high-quality eye frames, lenses, cataract surgery, and a good diagnosis which help people see better and lead a more productive life. We believe in "Everyone's right to see" and this thought encompasses everything we do.
Democratize digital healthcare
Dr. Parveez sheds light on the three major challenges of the Healthcare industry - affordability, availability, and accessibility, “Many people have been working for such a long time and now with the pandemic situation, the problem has compounded particularly in terms of the accessibility. Now, even people in the cities because of their age and risk profile are not allowed to come out of the house. So accessibility has assumed a different meaning in the current situation. Affordability was always an issue in healthcare. Availability, because in a country like India, which has such a large population, availability particularly in terms of resources for all the people was difficult. Now, when we talk about solutions for affordability, we have to see from a perspective key how to do a volume-based treatment, which is available for people with better transparency. There will be premium treatments available but I always give an example like if you want to travel from let's say Delhi to Mumbai, you should have the option of going by bus, by train, by flight, or even a private jet. But at least everyone should be able to go. So when you talk about affordability, it should be transparent and some volume-based because once there is volume, you can always decrease the cost and give it to the people at affordable rates, coming to the other two points, availability, and accessibility. So in a resource restraint situation like India, tech is the only solution. What we see in India, currently is that tech being used for premium care, you have platforms for Doctor Consultation where the fees are very high. Now when I say democratize digital healthcare, it means to bring digital health to everyone, to those who actually need it because each rupee is more valuable. So if we have to make them available and accessible, we somehow have to use technology which is digital for better user experiences with vernacular and others. So it's possible for them to read and accept it,” he says.
Understand the patient’s pain points
Dr. Parveez shares his experience, “It has been a journey of ups and downs as an entrepreneur, and in the healthcare system. I'm an ophthalmologist, after training, I worked for four years in different sectors in eye care and then started working in ERC, way back in 2013, as a small company with two people, and what it did really well was to understand the patient’s pain points. Everything that ERC provides today like it's a low cost, it's locations, everything comes from understanding the patient’s pain point and we call it the IPCEC or the integrated patient-centric eye care since we now realize that accessibility has become a major challenge, and to solve it the only way is through technology, telemedicine user experiences and vernacular user interface, we have hospitals; we do community with our mobile units. We have a digital platform as well now; this comes from one question ie. How to serve the patient better? And that's the IPCEC that we have,” he says.
Technology will take things forward
Dr. Parveez speaks on the future of Healthcare, “With COVID and like business people call it a black swan event, comes with major learning's what worked earlier will not work any longer because if it were to work, we would not be sitting in our houses for the last nine months. We have to find some different solutions to correct, design thinking and not rely on what we already have, fresh ideas have to come in and I believe at a personal level, this is where technology will help healthcare in the true sense. Earlier technology was there but conventional mainstream technology was a little bit separate from healthcare. But now it will take things forward to the next step,” he says.
Necessary to increase the spending on the healthcare sector
Dr. Parveez explains, “We are a country of resource restraints, and I can understand the government is confused where to put money, how to prioritize so many things. But a few days back, I heard the news about the budget which is going to be different in terms of increased spending on healthcare because now everybody's eyes are open, that without people's health, the country can go into a lockdown for so many days and you need to have the insurance that everybody whenever they need healthcare, whether they are poor, middle class or rich doesn't matter, it has to be provided. The infrastructure, both in government, in a public-private partnership, or even in the private sector has to be there and the government has to ensure it. It's necessary to increase the spending, and I am sure the government will do that this time,” he says.
(Edited by Rabia Mistry Mulla)