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The Silicon Review Asia

An Interview with Debasis Samanta, Healthism CEO: ‘Our Aim is to Become a Predictive Healthcare Platform Using ML/AI and We’re Right on the Track with our Execution Plan for the Next 5 Years’

The Silicon Review
September, 2019

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“We provide day-to-day medical care to more than 3,50,000 members and by the end of this financial year, we intend to acquire about a million members.”

Consumers’ craving for convenience has spurred enormous growth for the healthcare industry over the last decade, much of it driven by technology. From artificial intelligence (AI) and telehealth to augmented reality (AR) and connected medical devices, tech innovations have brought more flexibility and accessibility to healthcare, furthering this craving for convenience and improving the patient experience in the process.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Healthism.

Healthism is launched with the intent to enhance people’s health and overall well-being. The company offers multiple solutions to make quality healthcare accessible and easy. Multiple healthcare centric services are bundled up under the brand name Healthism. The journey has already started with a privilege healthcare card. The purpose of the card is to lower the everyday healthcare expenditure of the users. The annual membership card can be bought at a price of INR 999 and the user can avail discounts at various partner medical touchpoints. In effect the user saves on medical expenditure which is not covered by insurance policies. The other services include doctor appointment booking, medical record maintenance, medicine delivery etc.

The company was incorporated in 2016 and is headquartered in Mumbai. It has second office in Ahmedabad.

Debasis Samanta, Healthism CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Can you brief us about the history of your company?

We launched Healthism subscription card with intent to help people to reduce their healthcare expenses. Healthism focuses primarily on expenses that are not covered by Mediclaim/Health Insurance, like the cost of medicines, diagnostic tests, dental care, pathology tests etc. Not just that, Healthism also helps users save money on gyms, spas, and wellness centers.

Further, an entire family can enjoy the benefits of the Healthism Card and avail attractive discounts across 50,000+ healthcare partners. Along with the subscription model, we have launched booking of doctors’ appointment and lab tests etc. We are working with all the national brands like Thyrocare, Metropolis, Apollo Pharmacy, SRL etc.

Recently, Healthism became the official health care partner for Mumbai Police. Healthism-Mumbai Police co-branded health savings card was launched by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis.

Currently, we provide day-to-day medical needs to more than 3,50,000 members and by the end of this financial year, we intend to acquire about a million members.

Going forward, we are upgrading to a prepaid card for healthcare payments in collaboration with a leading bank. This would allow us to offer a couple of innovative enterprise products targeting healthcare centers. In the long run, our aim is to become a predictive healthcare platform using Machine Learning and AI and we are right on the track with our execution plan for the next five years.

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Q. There is nothing more important for a successful small business than a well-defined mission and vision statements. Can you explain your M&V statements in brief?

Our vision is to develop products and services that would truly impact people’s lives in a positive way. This inspires us to take quantum leaps and not just baby steps.

With the brand Healthism, our mission is to reach out and impact the lives of 20 crore Indian’s with our innovative products and services, focused on the healthcare delivery space, within the next five years with a blend of online and offline strategies.

Q. What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

The first hurdle was getting people to understand the product and the benefits it has to offer.

Secondly, we had a tough time building our team. Initially, we tried to rope in high fliers they simply said no because they could not see the potential of the product. Then we changed our strategy and focussed more on the attitude of the candidates and less on the skill set and magnitude of experience. They have been trained in-house and we find this has worked very well for us. Our third hurdle was managing adequate funding. Initially, we put in our own money and a few friends and relatives also chipped in…As first-generation entrepreneurs we didn’t have much experience in running or scaling a business, but we had more than 12 years of work experience where we had launched products and also worked in a similar kind of start-up environment. Thus, we had a belief that the initial days would be tough to maintain but not impossible. Eventually, a couple of investors who had known us in a professional capacity came on board and were followed by a host of investors who have come in at different valuations. They have a complete understanding of the business and most have had long corporate careers. Today, they actively participate in the running of the business and form a key part of the core team.

Q. What’s the best thing that happened to you recently? Either at work or outside of it!

As mentioned earlier, recently we collaborated with Mumbai police and became their official healthcare partner. Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis launched the scheme and endorsed and felicitated us for our work. It was a proud moment for all of us.

I would also like to mention the fact that a couple of months back we crossed the milestone of 50,000 merchant tie-ups. This makes us list ourself as one of the leading healthcare aggregators in the country.

Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Keep your faith; believe in your dreams, and bash on regardless. Ignore the naysayers and remember bad days don’t last forever. At the same time, learn how to execute your ideas and develop them into business propositions. If you can execute, nothing will ever stop you.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

It is yet to come. It will probably be when we do a public listing of my company at BSE. And then there will be many more. I have miles to go before I hang up my shoes.

Q. If not a business leader, what else you wish to be?

This is my true calling: I can only be a business leader. This is what I am meant to be!

Q. What do you hope to accomplish in the long run?

In the long run, we wish to stay relevant and continue to offer the best of the products and services to our customers while creating wealth for our investors. We would also like to actively collaborate with the government and other independent organisations in the field of healthcare to develop India as a healthier and happier nation.

Q. What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business’ success?

The uniqueness of the product and how we have been able to execute the same is what makes us stand out. In our current model, it’s a win-win situation for all the partners. The customers are happy because they get to save a lot, the health care centers are happy because they are getting more business, and Healthism is happy because it’s making revenue from the subscription model.

Q. What other business leaders do you look up to and why?

No one specific, rather a wide array of them! What really interests me is their different strategies, their business philosophies, and the course corrections that they have undertaken. Closer home, I look up to and follow the advice and guidance of three individuals – my co-founder, Piyush Kothari; my brother, Vikram Vats; and my mentor, Dr. Anil Paranjape.

Debasis Samanta, an Aspiring Entrepreneur: In His Own Words

I am a first-generation entrepreneur with an uncanny ability to foresee future consumer trends/market gaps and formulate solutions that are scalable business ventures. With a thorough understanding of technology and consumer behaviour and a creative bent of mind, I am more of a hands-on CEO and prefers to do everything from ideation to implementation. I genuinely wish and try to walk-the-talk and lead from the front.

I have worked with companies like TDI International, M’cons Group, Sarah Jahan Initiatives etc. in sales, new business development, strategy and planning division where I have displayed a flair for sales and distribution and also new business development.

I am an ardent follower of developments in technology and keenly observe cultural and social transformations. I am currently running a leading healthcare aggregator – www.healthism.co.

"Our vision is to develop products and services that would truly impact people’s lives in a positive way. This inspires us to take quantum leaps and not just baby steps.”

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