Monday, April 15, 2013

Healthwise in India

Even though I have been working with Healthwise for over eight years, I am ashamed to say I didn't know much about how they actually went about creating their patient educational content until I visited them in Boise.

We've been having a hard time promoting patient education in India , even though there is such a great need for it. Patients are all online , and are looking for information which they can trust - but they often get lost and confused , because there is much garbage online. Doctors often get irritated by patients who carry pages and pages of Internet information , because so much of it is unreliable.

Healthwise provides a win-win solution, because they have done a great job of producing high-quality patient educational content , which is distributed through hundreds of sources in the US - hospitals ; health insurance companies ; web portals ; and even the government . They all use the content regularly and routinely .

I needed to learn how we can replicate what they've done so successfully in the US in India as well. The common denominator between HELP and Healthwise is that we both put patients first – and that patients are the same all over the world ! However, hospitals , health insurance companies and governments in India are stuck in a world which is at least 20 years away from where the USA is today.

However, my learning will help us to figure out where we are likely to be a few years down the road , as India catches up with the rest of the world, so that we will be well positioned to take advantage of these seismic changes in the Indian healthcare system.

While I have always been very impressed by the high quality of the content which Healthwise produces , it's only when I actually visited their office did I realize the amount of effort , time and money which they invest in order to create such as high quality product. Healthwise has over 250 employees – of which more than 30 are IT engineers ! They continue to spend energy in modifying and creating and delivering their information , according to the patient's needs , which evolve as the world progresses.

Because they put patients first, they place a lot of emphasis on  user experience. It’s not just a question of saying – Okay , here's this information – read it and do what it tells you ! It’s far more complex than this, because you need to engage the patient to make sure that he acts based on the information which you provide .

We are finding it hard to get Indian companies to license this health information , so they can provide it free to their customers and patients, even though it is of such high quality. Even though Healthwise has been very successful in doing this in the USA, most Indian companies are not willing to learn from the market leaders in the USA. There is still a lot of resistance in actually investing in these patient educational resources ! Hospitals don't seem to see any value – and they come up with the same excuse - No one else seems to be doing it , so why should we bother ? Health insurance companies in India are still not profitable enough as yet , to be able to invest resources which will help them to differentiate themselves from the competition .

I think it's a matter of time till India catches up with the US , because Indian patients are as demanding as patients in the US  - it’s just as important for them to make the right decisions , as it is for patients in the US ! In fact, the need in India is far more, because there is such an acute scarcity of reliable information which patients can trust. We hope that by learning from Healthwise , we will be able to leapfrog and catch up with the US far more quickly than we would otherwise !

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