'Millennial Indians are becoming health conscious', says Deepak Sahni of Healthians
Deepak Sahni, Founder & CEO, Healthians.com chats about the need for preventive healthcare in the new era of healthy and organic food. Excerpts from the interview:
How important do you think preventive healthcare is given the new era of healthy and organic food?
Preventive healthcare is an emerging reality of our times. India has become the world's diabetes and coronary disease capital and consequently this has also led to growing awareness about health and preventive steps to maintain it.
Indians, especially millennials are becoming health conscious, which means that with time the focus on diseases prevention is going to increase.
Steps that are taken towards preventive healthcare, in terms of preventive tests, eating healthy, exercising regularly, focus on maintaining wellness and good health rather than treating sickness.
In today’s world, no matter how healthy you eat, there are factors like pollution, stress levels, sleeping patterns that can still affect your health.
Therefore, preventive health maintenance is absolutely necessary for maintaining a healthy disposition which can also help reduce overall medical expenses.
People consider taking tests when a doctor recommends. How do you see that affecting your business model?
Yes, traditionally in India people only go for tests when they are recommended by a doctor. Healthcare is still very reactive than proactive in India.
However, that doesn’t really affect the business model because the doctor recommended tests are also included in the Healthians product portfolio.
Moreover, we provide the convenience of getting tested at home, therefore somebody who’s already ill has the convenience to rest at home instead of running around labs for the tests.
However, the fact is that people in India are now becoming more and more aware about the need for preventive health maintenance.
People suffering from lifestyle diseases like diabetes, and heart problems who need regular monitoring already find Healthians to be high on convenience and affordability.
Also, since the diagnostic space in the country is predominantly B2B, we are taking the consumer-first approach by encouraging people to realise the need for regular preventive health checkups to be able to foresee illnesses on time and lead a healthy life.
What is it that sets you apart from your competition?
The fundamental difference between us and our competitors is that we operate on a tech-based platform that facilitates the booking of health tests at homes of consumers. Which means consumers don’t have to visit a lab to get health tests done.
Customers can just open the app or call a number to book their desired health tests the sample collection happens at the time and place convenient to the customer in a hygienic, easy and painless manner.
Secondly, the diagnostic industry is very fragmented and pricing is particularly opaque. For most competitor brands the pricing includes cuts for middlemen like hospitals, labs or a franchisee, apart from others.
And the same is therefore passed on to the consumers leading to inflated pricing. But Healthians is able to keep the pricing low because it doesn’t have to pay these middlemen.
The entire supply chain is completely company controlled that is, right from the Phlebo to labs is fully self-managed and they directly come under the purview of Healthians, therefore costs can be kept in control.
What’s more, while most players stop at giving you a report, Healthians goes beyond in terms of making you healthier by offering value-added services like doctor and dietician consultation to ensure you understand your report and take necessary actions to get healthier.
Healthians also provides customers with historical insights and trends regarding their health parameters for easy monitoring to improve their health conditions.
Companies abroad have health check-ups for every new employee. How effective do you think that is in India?
Pre-employment health check-ups is a good practice for both the company as well as the employees to understand their ability and capacity to perform their job well.
In today’s dynamic corporate environment, most organisations demand a healthy and fit employee because a healthy employee can be more productive compared to an unhealthy one.
It has been observed that a healthy workforce stays more motivated and connected to the organization while an unhealthy workforce can pull down your productivity level, due to their increasing work-day offs (sick leaves), as the pressure will pile up on other employees. This will result in less efficiency among healthy employees.
Healthy employees on the other hand create a more positive and energetic work environment which can boost the efficiency level.
Therefore, it is important that the employer performs pre-employment health check-up before hiring any employee so that they can hire the right person in the organisation who can demonstrate better corporate responsibility.
Globally pre-employment health checkups are prevalent while in India the practice is restricted to only a few companies and sectors. But more and more organisations are realising the importance of conducting these checkups before employing a candidate because of the aforementioned reasons.
What are some major challenges you face when it comes to spreading awareness?
One of the major challenges is changing people's attitude towards preventive healthcare, specifically the need to preventive health check-ups.
Our entire health ecosystem is based on a reactive approach, also, there is a general resistance towards getting health checkups and people keep postponing it due to multiple factors like price sensitivity, the paucity of time or the fear of changing lifestyle due to restrictions imposed by the doctor post the checkup.
Since the aim is to instigate behaviour change in terms of the way they take a health test, it requires significant investments to do so. Especially when consumers place a lot of trust on their local neighbourhood labs. The challenge is in forging that trust to overcome the inertia that exists.
What is your long-term vision with the company?
Healthians being a diagnostic company that facilitates health tests at home, stands for a vision to add healthy years to every Indian’s life. We aim to inspire people to realise the importance of health and nudge them to stop ignoring their health.
Our observations and numerous studies have revealed that millennials, both men and women in the age group of 29-40 years are so busy in their lives that they are trading their health away in the pursuit of career and prosperity.
People are so caught up in making money or improving their quality of life that health is often compromised. It’s only when they cross a certain milestone in life, or when someone close suffers a health problem they realise what they have lost in terms of health.
This is what we want people to realise that before it’s too late, instead of just concentrating on enjoying materialistic things in life we should all be more responsible for our health.
We want to be the world’s most trusted household name towards making life healthier facilitated by breakthrough technology. Our aim is to make people have a high level of awareness about their own health that minimises the need to go for treatment at hospitals.