Changing for the better! Putting the “care” back in healthcare


17 May 2023



Ankur Khaitan

<span>Changing for the better!</span> Putting the “care” back in healthcare
Consumption in India has been growing steadily for the past decade, and the combined impact of cellphone access, inexpensive mobile data, and a mature e-commerce ecosystem have helped consumption spike in recent times. New-age brands are flourishing across the consumer basket, serving knowledgeable, empowered and always-on millennials, Gen-Z, and even Gen Xers. Add to this a worldwide black swan event that moved good health and preventive health right to the top of every hierarchy of needs. Health and wellness has now become an essential part of the consumption habit.

Powerful innovation, a high degree of “pull,” and digitisation have evolved traditional models of care delivery to focus on the quality of care. Just as Amazon has changed the way we shop, healthcare platforms have truly reshaped the way we tend to our health. Whether it be diagnostics, medication or specialist visits, digital transformation has simplified reach for many of us, ably supported by the accelerated infrastructure set up by startups and incumbents.

Today, we are at a very interesting inflection point. Thanks to the hyperaware consumer, there is a sea change in the way healthcare is thought of, discovered, and consumed. This reinvented and reaffirmed relationship with wellness will impact the trajectory of healthcare industry over next few decades. Here are some trends we’ve seen:

Empowered to act

Today’s consumer wants to be a partner, co-creator, and co-decision maker in their healthcare journey. Most of us now use some form of tracking technology, thanks to the ubiquitous trackers that monitor our sleep, activity, vitals, mood and even fertility and menstrual cycles. Consumers are highly motivated from the get-go and extremely well informed about the need for better health. They seek out solutions that empower them to live better. This is shifting the paradigm to self-care, starting with DIY diagnostics.

The doctor’s role has begun to resemble that of a coach, and the solution delivery goes beyond just consultation and procedures. Interestingly, the self-care trend is also relieving the resource pressure on healthcare systems.

Beyond the taboos

The medical arena often encounters taboo topics. Previously neglected areas of care like mental health, child development and women’s health are now being acknowledged and addressed as mainstream needs. From the consumer’s point of view, it serves the purpose of knowing and understanding their medical condition and the need to feel known and understood by their doctors. Digital platforms and communities enable empathy, trust, and shared experiences to overcome this stigma and close the care gap. As these conditions take centrestage, we will continue to see innovation and investments towards developing solutions that address this unique health challenge.


Living one’s best life is now an easy and empowered way to be. Technology can boost wellbeing with just a swipe or a click, and today’s consumer is happy to practice ways to improve their well-being. Light therapy lamps serve as mood-boosters and regulate the body’s internal clock, and smart recovery devices help heal from intense workouts. This trend extends to chronic disease management as well where consultation in combination with the right mix of products creates a one-stop solution for managing ailments through digitised care at home.

The root of the matter

Today’s consumers seek solutions to the root cause of their problems. Science-led innovation is paving the way for unique solutions in specialised areas like weight management and gut health. Consumers are increasingly demanding care beyond symptom-relieving pills. These solutions coupled with diagnostics and targeted coaching have the potential to deliver efficacious and long-term sustainable results.

What’s your specialty?

India faces the unique challenge of not having enough doctors and even fewer specialists who can treat chronic conditions that are on the rise. Vertically integrated, single specialty services focus on combining clinical protocols and products to offer deeper care. These protocols combine interactive content, science-backed techniques, goal setting and personal support via in-app coaches for an end-to-end offering. Startups focused on managing a particular disease are solving for the care continuum and delivering efficacious results for a happy and satisfied consumer.
The bedside website

We’re already seeing acceptance of the omni-channel and digital clinic models. Consumers recognize that advancements in digital capabilities can deliver superior solutions across multiple touch points of the care continuum. Hyper-scalers and disruptors are leading the charge and we are moving towards receiving appropriate healthcare in channel-agnostic ways.

Lifelong care

India is currently a young country, but our share of elders is expected to steadily surge over the next 15 years. The growing prevalence of nuclear families will further create a need for senior care, an area which is hugely underserved in India. The hierarchy of needs for those over 55 is starkly different from products on offer for them in the digital world today. From specialised support to empowering elders lead their best lives by adopting digital products, there’s a lot that can be done for India’s elders.

Data works

While the consumer is leading the quest for a radically different kind of healthcare, the same consumer is also providing unparalleled access to data, habits and insights into their lives that will help healthcare providers serve them better. From wearables and apps that track everything to digital records which can be easily accessed; structured analysis of healthcare data can lead to improved service, enhanced quality of care, and measuring efficacy on the go.

Change is here and now

India could have a billion digital health users in the next decade, enjoying an inclusive health system where healthcare keeps expanding but costs keep falling — a system that efficiently prevents and treats diseases and responds to individual lifestyles and disease profiles with tailored treatments, all at an affordable price.

Already, India’s 400 million-strong digital health user base is driving the demand for healthcare digitization. The time is now for providers to step up, and start shaping the new landscape, keeping in mind that Millennial and Gen-Z consumers:

  • Seek outcomes without compromising their lifestyle
  • Focus on the quality of life and the quality of care
  • Want better than to “manage” their condition
  • Demand personalized care
  • Are comfortable with online pharmacies & tele-consultation
  • Act proactively, whether towards self-improvement or prevention
  • Don’t have a mindset of fear

In healthcare, as in everything else, today’s consumer seeks expertise combined with a great consumer experience. And slowly but surely, we are moving towards more value-based care. It will no longer be enough to just deliver a service and bill consumers, healthcare service providers will be measured for quality and efficacy.

Providers need to focus on delivering services and products seamlessly via omnichannel pathways to improve the consumer experience and deliver outcomes. After all, if my supermarket and my gym now “deliver” in ten minutes, won’t my GP or specialist be next? Patient centered care as an approach to disease management will need to consider their needs, worries and emotions along with the line of treatment.

As consumers make profound changes in how they live, shop, eat, and play, healthcare providers must mirror this change, and pivot to enable consumers in this pursuit of personal life goals. Providers need to rethink their marketing approach to grow and maintain continuity of care, where consumers need it, when they need it. We are truly living in the best, and the worst, of times. The pandemic has made us all more aware of our own mortality. At the same time, we are enjoying the benefits of technology more than ever before.

The potential market size and the promise of innovation makes the changing healthcare landscape an immensely attractive one. At Fireside, we see a far more elemental desire driving its growth – the fundamental longing for a healthier, holistic, more balanced self for all, with practices rooted in daily life, everyday experiences, and personal health choices. We’re extremely excited about the new themes that will take off, as well as existing spaces that will grow in prominence due to the fast-growing digital healthcare infrastructure.

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