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#Outlook14 – What Indian Online Health Companies Plan To Do


As a part of our #Outlook14 series, we asked heads of  online health companies – mDhil, eHealth Access and HealthKart about their focus areas for 2014, and the challenges that the online health ecosystem needs to address. We’re still accepting answers till the 15th of January, so in case you’re in this sector and wish to share an update with us, please do mail brindaa at medianama dot com.

MediaNama: Which according to you were the top developments and roadblocks with respect to the online health segment in 2013? Why?

Nandu Madhava, mDhil

- Increased investment activity in the health sector, primarily in the form of large private equity deals in hospitals and health services.
-As a corollary, many hospitals and health providers wrestle with acquiring new high-value patients & customers and in this regard we are seeing increased online marketing activity from major hospitals, OTC drug companies, and health-focused consumer brands.

Jayadeep Reddy, eHealth Access

- 2013 has been a a great year in terms of internet and online penetration in India and users perception towards online health has completely changed and it expected to grow rapidly.

Prashant Tandon, HealthKart.com

- Increasing reach of mobile internet in ecommerce. This is expected to make both ecommerce and online health, ‘mobile first’ in 2014.
- Amongst the top challenges that were faced were the effects of dollar prices on almost all the imported products, the state of payment gateways on mobile etc.

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MediaNama: What has changed from 2012 to 2013? How?

Nandu Madhava, mDhil

- It’s now possible to reach people in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with health information in local languages they understand.
- The growth of 3G and low cost smartphones has resulted in more Indians coming online – and health is a proven topic of search interest globally and India is no different in this regard.

Jayadeep Reddy, eHealth Access

- As I said with more penetration and internet and mobile, health also becomes accessible else where with ease and consumer perception and preventive and primary healthcare practices has improved a lot.

MediaNama: Which are the consumption patterns (online & mobile) that you observed in 2013?

Nandu Madhava, mDhil

- I think 2013 goes down as a year where Indian online companies needed to define a clear mobile strategy.
- Strangely, I’m still bearish on app strategies (Android & iOS) as very few companies have been successful in getting their apps discovered, downloaded, and used frequently. Apps need to be more than just a mobile version of your website.

Jayadeep Reddy, eHealth Access

- We see atleast 30% of patiens access services from mobile devices and a greater percentage of 50% doctors access evaidya.com on mobile

Prashant Tandon, HealthKart.com

- We saw a significant uptake in consumption of content on both desktop and mobile. Mobile is already seeing more keyword search queries as compared to desktop.
- There has also been a steady rise in traffic from tier 4 towns as online shopping becomes more prevalent.

- Authenticity is becoming an increasingly important reason, especially in health, as ecommerce offers a viable and far reaching alternative to buy genuine products.

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MediaNama: What kind of transition have consumers made from offline to online in 2013? Why? What are your observations?

Nandu Madhava, mDhil

- More people are consuming online content – articles and videos than ever before. It’s now possible to reach highly targeted Indian audiences on key health verticals like baby care, diet & nutrition, and chronic care, etc.
- If you are a marketer or advertiser, there is a good chance you can experience better ROI by going online than by going via print or traditional channels.

Jayadeep Reddy, eHealth Access

- While online health in 2012 was limited to searching health information, we see more users moving towards virtual consultations with doctors and appointment bookings apart from buying health gadgets.
- Trust factor among users on online doctor services has improved to a great extent compared to 2012

Prashant Tandon, HealthKart.com

- In health, consumers are switching from offline to online mainly because of authenticity concerns, availability and better prices.

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MediaNama: What are the likely trends that you expect to see in 2014? Why?

Nandu Madhava, mDhil

- Larger brands, agencies, and advertisers in India approaching global marketing trends as seen in the west and China. The first wave of advertisers embraced Google and Facebook, and I think they will now seek richer online mediums to explain their health products and services. You can do a lot more online than you can with a print ad or 20 second TV commercial.

Jayadeep Reddy, eHealth Access

- Medical records are going to be a game changer in 2014 and we expect more users to store and access digital health records.
- While people are undergoing preventive health check ups, it is very important to properly analyse the reports with health analytics and take right preventive measures. online health records will create tangibility among online health services.

Prashant Tandon, HealthKart.com

- Expect more shoppers to come from mobile and are working actively to improve our user experience on mobile devices.
- Expect a stronger convergence in offline and online, and are working on setting up a retail footprint in all the major metros. This will give customers a physical touchpoint and will give us an opportunity to showcase the product range and our key benefits.

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MediaNama: What are the challenges in the online health segment that would need to be addressed in 2014?

 Nandu Madhava, mDhil

- There’s still a fair amount of skepticism in online businesses. It will take another 12- 24 months to start seeing the trends that can be found in China of robust online business potential.

Jayadeep Reddy, eHealth Access

- Regulation  and proper guideline on tele medicine services and health record storage need to come faster and facilitate the industry growth with right patient data protection.

Prashant Tandon, HealthKart.com

- Establishing trust and driving health education among the customers would be key in expanding the online health market. Offline health market is crippled by tremendous amount of fake / counterfeit products; ensuring that online consumers have assurance that they are buying authentic products online, would play a big role in market expansion.

Note: Answers have been edited for for brevity