Having worked in hospitals in Delhi for many years I am often required to help out friends and relatives when someone in their family needs medical attention. I am supposed to be the guy who can recommend a specialist, fix an appointment, advise on the choice of a hospital, help folks seek a second opinion and in general be the knowledgeable person around for matters medical.
This has often made me wonder if there is a need and possibly a business opportunity in developing a large resource base of information and knowledge, which most people can access with ease and use without worrying about the reliability and authenticity of the information.
What will be this Resource Base ?
A reservoir of authentic medical information about medical professionals, hospitals, nursing homes, specialised centres, nursing services, homecare services, old age homes everything and anything that one can conceivably need. It will also have a database of information about medical conditions, their causes, symptoms, treatment modalities and prevention advice, all in a language that a layman would not find too taxing.
How Can this be Done ?
India is a vast country and to create a resource base of this kind for the entire country will be a herculean task. However one can begin small by starting with a pilot project in a city like Delhi. The information regarding medical facilities can be sourced directly from various hospitals and nursing homes or from the Ministry of Health and Municipal authorities , who register these facilities with them. The key to success for something like this is that the hospitals, the doctors and all stakeholders in the healthcare domain must come together to support such an initiative and provide accurate information willingly and without the fear of it being misused in any manner. Thus those behind this initiative must be completely unbiased and have the highest level of professional integrity. This Utopian vision, even to me appears to be far cry from reality. Thus I would recommend that the government set up an independent regulator much on the lines of IRDA (the insurance regulator in India), which can then set up a body to device ways and means of creating this resource centre.
The Revenue Model
The Revenue Model can be based on certain services being paid for on an annual subscription fee. Thus for example if someone wants to know about cardiologists in Delhi, the information, which is a list of cardiologists with their contact details can be accessed without any charge. However, if someone wants a comparative opinion about the cardiologists or wants to see comments or access a blog about them or wants to interact with people treated by a particular cardiologist, then they can pay a small fee to access this information.
Advertising can be another stream of revenue. Various hospitals and medical services provider can be allowed to advertise on the site in an area clearly marked as advertising. Since the site will be attracting eyeballs from people seeking medical advice, they can be considered as potential customers for these hospitals and I am sure they would love to advertise on a topical site like this.
Regular newsletter, analysis of disease groups and other insightful reports can be another source of revenue. Hospital Ratings done in an unbiased manner and based on consistent medical and non medical parameters can be an additional source of revenue.
Who should fund this?
This effort must be made through a private-public partnership with Ministry of Health and private equity pooling their resources together and running it as a ‘for profit’ enterprise. The government must play a role as this resource centre has social relevance and can be construed as a public service. Private entrepreneurs need to get involved to ensure efficiency, transparency and high standards of quality. The government apart from partly funding the venture must follow a hands off policy in the day to day running of the enterprise. It should act as a neutral umpire setting the rules of the game and ensuring that everybody plays by them.
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