Providing Health Care with a Single Touch
Hong Kong and Cochin, India, 11 – 23 January 2016
In January 2016, GIFT travelled to Kerala to conduct a programme that examined emergency response systems and proposed business solutions to gaps in the healthcare sector. Global executives from over ten countries went to the city of Cochin to develop a new business model to aggregate healthcare resources to expand emergency and non-emergency coverage in India through a mobile application.
Working with MUrgency Global Services, Inc, a mobile platform with the aim of connecting patients in emergency situations with nearby medical professionals, GLP participants developed a business plan for the company to expand in the state of Kerala, and eventually nationwide.
Cochin and Kerala
Kerala is located in southwest India. It is one of the only Indian states with significant Muslim and Christian populations: both of whom have lived in the region for centuries. Cochin—a city of two million—is a major port, with India’s oldest active synagogue and church.
Kerala’s state government has made the universal provision of basic needs a top priority. Early investment in healthcare and education allowed Kerala to outperform many countries with higher per capita incomes.
Kerala’s healthcare sector is one of India’s most developed. Public healthcare is free for those below a certain income, with multiple tiers from primary health centers up to specialist tertiary hospitals. Upon this foundation is built world-class private medical facilities, making Kerala a target for medical tourism, especially from the Gulf.
MUrgency’s long-term vision is to build a single global response network. MUrgency signs up medical professionals as emergency responders, and dispatches them to patients who use their mobile application.
MUrgency’s founders include Shaffi Mather and Sweta Mangal, the co-founders of Ziqitza Health Care Limited, the largest for-profit ambulance network in the developing world with a fleet of 1300 ambulances.
Emergency Response in India
The World Health Organization estimates that more people worldwide die from slow or delayed emergency response than from malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined.
Emergency medicine is a medical specialty that focuses on diagnosing and treating acute medical situations. Triage, or the act of determining the nature, severity, and possible treatment of an issue, is a vital part of emergency medicine.
India has no centralized dispatch service: one single location can have as many as ten emergency contact numbers. Government plans to build such a service have been discussed since the 1980s, but have seen long delays.
Emergency medicine is a very young discipline in India. The Medical Council of India only recognized emergency medicine as a specialty in 2009, and it remains a niche area of study for most medical graduates.
Kerala's Chief Minister
In a session with the group facilitated by Chandran Nair (right), Chief Minister Oommen Chandy (left)—the top executive official in Kerala’s government—explained his state’s policies towards the provision of social needs, highlighting "Education," "Healthcare" and "Infrastructure" as top priorities.
Building a Business Solution in Cochin
Many members of the community said they often transported patients to the hospital directly rather than waiting for an ambulance. They pointed to road accidents and heart conditions as the common causes of medical emergencies.
Indian healthcare costs are rising, even in states with good public health systems like Kerala. 60% of all health costs in India are paid “out-of-pocket”, compared to about 35% in China, 11% in the United States, and 9% in the United Kingdom.
The group visited a Community Health Center, which acts as a hub for the local community, handling public health initiatives like immunization drives.
Indian hospitals often own one or two ambulances, but they are used to take patients home, transport patients between hospitals, or collect medical tourists from the airport. Hospitals rarely use ambulances to collect patients in the field.
The group visited Aster Med City, a massive world-class medical complex. Aster has developed “bike ambulances:” fitted with a medical kit, a siren and a defibrillator, bikes are can easily weave through traffic to reach a patient.
A visit to New India Assurance helped the group learn about the state of India’s insurance market. Health insurance in India is much less developed than elsewhere, as plans often only cover inpatient care.
In a meeting with Airtel, the group learned about the state of telecoms in India. The country has one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets, driven by phones as cheap as 4,000 INR (US$60).
Kerala, and India in general, have a large number of trained medical professionals that are underused.
The group recommended that MUrgency capitalize further on underutilised healthcare resources to expand both emergency and nonemergency coverage across Kerala and India.
Through meetings with government, community and business leaders, and through frank and open discussions amongst themselves, participants learn to navigate conflicting and contradictory views to transform concepts and theories into realities on the ground.
The GLP uses real-world field projects to hone the practical skills needed to manage diverse teams in unfamiliar situations. Participants create new business models to solve critical development challenges.
Participants developed a business plan that outlined the new MUrgency; below are a few excerpted slides from the full report.
The MUrgency model helps to expand health coverage in India. It adds capacity to India’s stressed emergency-response system through a network of qualified responders who can travel faster than an ambulance, which may be delayed due to poor roads and traffic.
By expanding coverage of non-emergency care, MUrgency can also address the rise in chronic and "lifestyle" conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, or the growing need for elderly care at home. The network connects users to doctors, pharmacies, diagnostic labs and medical device companies, as well as medical professionals who can provide basic care at the home.
Participants presented their business plan to a crowd of medical professionals, including students, representatives from nearby hospitals and heads of emergency departments.
Yuri Kondo, Recruit Management Solutions (Japan)
"I will always treasure the experience I had on the GLP. Through building a real project with people from different countries, I discovered the true power of diversity and leadership."
Dibya Ojha, NEC Corporation (India)
"The Global Leaders Programme was outstanding. I highly recommend this program to those interested in developing the skills needed to achieve business results in today’s and tomorrow's business climate."
Stewart Kwok, idsMED (Hong Kong)
"I never expected one could gain so much from a management training program. The focus on real-life field work and current social issues instead of textbook theories drew participants into action right away when we hit the ground. It was amazing to see how participants transformed over the course of the programme."
To learn more about GIFT's collaboration with MUrgency, contact Rachita Mehrotra.