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Puppetizing Healthcare

Healthcare institutes in India are submitting themselves to the Digital Disrupters for the last several years. You can call them aggregators but they love to be called `Disrupters’. Many web portals have sprung in the last decade who are busy in listing all the doctors, hospitals, diagnostic centres and other healthcare facilities. Many of these portals display the services provided by the healthcare facilities along with “Discounts”. Patients are lured by these portals by offering discounts on services like Doctor Consult, MRI, CT Scan and other tests. Several portals are in the pipeline who would be offering discounts on the surgeries also.

The healthcare providers would do well to study the business model of these aggregators. Makemytrip promoter becomes a billionaire but the hotel owners become puppets at the hands of these digital behemoths. It may make some sense for the travel industry to be present on such digital platforms because their customers are spread all over the world. Most of the healthcare facilities have their catchment area within few kilometers of the facility. Their customers would not be coming from all over the country save for a few very big hospitals. These digital platforms add zero value to the services provided by the healthcare industry. What business do they have in demanding discounts on your services!

How Should Healthcare Marketing be Done

Most of the healthcare facilities do not spend money in hiring good quality marketing team and prefer to offer discounts through these portals for getting patients. Digital marketing is not very expensive and every healthcare facility would spend much less on their own digital marketing rather than hitchhiking on other platforms. If the healthcare institutes do not understand the perils of this business model, they would soon be dancing to the tunes of the digital disrupters. If you have installed a 15 year old MRI machine then keep your prices low as compared to those who have the latest technology but for god sake do not offer discounts on your rates. You are demeaning the entire medical profession and comparing it to consumer goods. Do not allow the concept of “End of Season Sale” to enter the hallowed profession of Medicine.

If the allopathic doctors and the healthcare facilities do not get off these digital platforms and start investing in their own marketing, they would be responsible for their puppetization. I am all for giving discounts and even free treatment to those who cannot afford it. When you do charity, you and only you should decide the beneficiary and not some digital platform. You are offering discounts to those who belong to the privileged class and denying it to the weaker sections. The best marketing for healthcare is “word of mouth”. Invest in improving your services and manpower and get patients on the basis of good services rather than price cuts.

There are enough groups like Health Insurance, CGHS, ECHS, ESI etc. who are hell bent on hammering down the prices. Do not create another monster in the form of digital disrupters. You would be responsible for the premature death of healthcare in India.

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