How insight completely changed Swasth India’s model of delivering healthcare

The social enterprise realised that PHCs for simple diseases rather than insurance for illness is the solution to affordable healthcare.


What you learn on the ground can completely change your business model, says Swasth India, a social enterprise that runs primary health centres in Mumbai offering discounted services and medicines to the urban poor.

Social enterprises often work with customers who aren’t the ones paying them, who rarely express themselves. How then do you figure out what he/she wants and serve it best to them?

Data tells you that waterborne diseases arise due to drinking water. But on-ground insights told us that it is sanitation more than anything else.

Data tells you that waterborne diseases arise due to drinking water. But on-ground insights told us that it is sanitation more than anything else.

Here are 5 things Swasth India learnt on the ground that changed things around quite a bit for them:

1. Swasth initially offered health insurance targeted at the BoP population. While doing this, they realised that the majority of claims were for simple diseases that could be handled by a well-functioning primary health centre. This resulted in their changing their product offering to what it is today – 11 privately run Primary Healthcare Centres in low-income colonies in Mumbai.

2. Swasth made its focus the urban poor after realising that, contrary to expectation, this group were as bad as or worse off in terms of health than their rural counterparts due to more harmful living conditions.

3. Swasth found that setting up the health clinics inside slums didn’t work resulted in only nearby houses accessing services, due to territorial and cultural divisions within the slum. Hence the clinics were shifted to more neutral locations like market areas.

4. Discounts not enough to guarantee clients, one need to make it convenient too. Initially, Swasth India started its centre inside a slum colony. “We found that it was convenient for the 50 houses that were there. We had 100% market share in these 50 houses. But all the people in the slums on the other side never came to this side. So it was not sustainable. It had to be located where people felt safe coming, like a market. That was an insight,” says Sundeep Kapila, founder, Swasth India.

5. How much time would a patient ideally like the doctor to spend in consultation? “Contrary to our own preferences, it was found that the poor felt it should be less than 3 minutes, else they judged the doctor as not good enough.” Additionally, they looked upon a longer queue not as an inconvenience but as an indication of the doctor’s good reputation. On the flipside, there is a point beyond which too much crowd is seen as an inconvenience.

A queue is, unusually, seen not as an inconvenicence, but as a sign of how good the doctor is.

Read: Customer insight and intuition, more than any data, survey or established model, holds social enterprises in good stead.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kirti is an unwriter, whose Attention Deficit Syndrome has kept her from getting bored of journalism even after 10-plus years in the field. She prefers the sword but finds the pen mightier when the topics are food, travel and books. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kirti is an unwriter, whose Attention Deficit Syndrome has kept her from getting bored of journalism even after 10-plus years in the field. She prefers the sword but finds the pen mightier when the topics are food, travel and books. more
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