COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of the healthcare industry, including preventative health, and has attracted very much needed investments in healthcare. Global investments and healthcare startups had set a new record in 2020, reaching around $80.6 billion in equity funding. On this World Health Day, we at Medicircle present to you the World Health Day Awareness Series wherein we are featuring the Healthcare Startups which have created disruptions in healthcare through technology and innovative ideas.
Pankaj Chandna is a co-founder of Vaidam.com, which is a trusted platform for people traveling abroad to receive medical care. Vaidam is an NBA certified healthcare discovery platform that connects patients to top notch medical experts, hospitals, wellness options, and trusted travel partners to help identify and make the right healthcare choices.
Contributions of Indian Start-ups
Pankaj speaks, “All the sub sectors of Indian healthcare like Telemedicine, Online Pharmacy and many more have been impacted by technology or the newer ideas which Healthcare Entrepreneurs are bringing. All of them have their own share of contribution. India is poised to become a 350 plus billion-dollar industry by 2022. Our healthcare startup contributes towards patient choices. When someone falls sick, they look for possible avenues like who is the best doctor, which is the right hospital, how much is this going to cost, what are the success factors, and so on. So, all these questions come across in the mind of the patient. We are an International Medical Travel Platform. So, if someone is coming to India for medical treatment, they come in contact with us. From visa to arrival and then taking care of them in the hospitals, everything is being looked after by us.”
Indian Healthcare Ecosystem is changing
Pankaj informs, “Before COVID, our doctors were reluctant to give advice to a patient without actually physically evaluating. A patient was apprehensive about the doctor's choice because he may feel the doctor has not even touched him or seen him appropriately. But thanks to this barrier of physically traveling and meeting. Now, the mindset of both sides has been changing, doctors are now more open to give their advice by having a video conversation and patient is also accepting that more and more. So, the Indian healthcare ecosystem is changing all sorts of arenas, whether it is pharmaceutical or medical devices. Indian healthcare and Entrepreneurs are contributing and adding value to it. Now, we all now know that India is the powerhouse of vaccines in the world. 60% of the world vaccines are produced by Indians, nobody probably knew this fact before. Now whole India can appreciate the kind of health infrastructure we have.”
Pandemic has helped in adopting Telemedicine
Pankaj mentions, “Previously also, there were a few software’s available, but the challenge was the only adoption. There were many systemic issues in the path of the adoption of telemedicine. There were challenges from the regulatory side like how the law allows a doctor to do a prescription or consultation over video, how they view telemedicine, and then there was the mindset of the doctor and the patient too. The doctor was also looking for information in a coherent manner. When COVID hit all of a sudden, the government came into action and they laid out very clear guidelines that one may offer telemedicine if they are following govt rules and regulations. So that gave confidence to the doctors that what they want to do, is now authorized by the government. And then the mindset of patients and doctors also came along. The adoption became faster, the patient realizes the value of time and money. The patient gets almost the same level of confidence with the doctor on consultation by sitting at home and having video conversations. This is how the entire system falls in place, and we saw the change.
Pankaj adds, “During COVID, we also started working on the domestic side and even today 50% of the consultations are happening remotely. They are either on phone or on video connect. There is a regular patient of a doctor or a patient who is following up post surgery, So, all these cases are handled remotely.”
Vaidam – The name of Pride
Pankaj says, “We started this business about five years ago, and we are fortunate to receive patients from 105 countries and we have been able to service at least one patient from these countries. So, someone in these countries knows about Vaidam. They have been benefited by coming to India and using our services. So that is our small contribution to Indian healthcare and our economy. It’s a matter of pride that someone is going back and talking about the greatness of Indian doctors and its Healthcare.”
A satisfying Journey
Pankaj elaborates, “the people who are coming, have their own reasons of traveling. We have received patients from the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, and extremely poor African countries as well. So, there are different reasons for these people to travel. For example, someone from the UK would not travel to India, because healthcare was not available in the country. They are probably traveling as they were covered in NHS with a long queue and have to wait for 18 months for knee replacement surgery. So, if someone who can bear that pain for one and a half year, it's fine otherwise they spend some money, come to India and get the treatment. The second audiences are those people for whom treatment is just not available in their own country, there is no neurosurgeon or oncosurgeon in the entire country. So, these people come because the healthcare services were just not available.”
Pankaj adds, “And then there is a third category which is coming to India because the healthcare was available, but the expertise was missing. Most of the patients who are coming are for life threatening diseases like cardiology or brain surgeries or cancer surgeries. So, they may have doctors available in the country, but they were not confident that they will get the best of care. And when it comes to the life of a friend or a family, you want to make sure that you go to the right place and give your life to someone you can trust. So, everyone has their own perspective. That’s how they come in contact with us. We have seen patients asking for cheapest care, on the other side there are patients where the money’s no bar and just want the best treatment.”
Prioritizing the convenience of people
Pankaj talks, “since we have a wide network, have worked with more than top 100 hospitals in the country. We have a network with all major hospitals in our country. So, they can choose the best option out of the choices available to them. They may come from a country where they don't speak Hindi or English. So, they need interpreters. We have people in our team who can speak nine different languages. There are people who can speak Arabic, French, Russian, Portuguese, Bangla, and so on. When a patient comes for treatment, they want to converse with a doctor seamlessly. They want to make sure that doctor understood them, and they understood the plan of action. So, we provide them all services to make sure that they feel the right care is being given to them.”
(Edited by Renu Gupta)