Market dynamics ensure nothing is static. This is why opportunity knocks - but does not linger! Here is an exciting new concept of business - HCP or Health Counsel Provider (ideated by me this weekend). To get a hang of this concept, just read the hypothetical conversation below:
Patient (P): Hi! I was passing by, couldn't help noticing your board NUPATH HEALTH COUNSEL CENTER. So what do you do here?
Health Counsellor (HC): Hi! Welcome to Nupath Health Counsel Center, Helping patients take informed decisions. As you can observe, we are a patient empowerment agency. We believe the days of blind faith in the neighbourhood doctor are over! This is the age of information. Health related decisions are increasingly information search oriented. Patients look for unbiased health information and therapy options. We provide this here at this center and we fill the information void in a patient's life. Our health counsellors provide private, confidential information service and thus help patients' take informed decisions regarding therapy and other health related matters. We are a Health Counsel Provider - you can trust us. We build confidence in patients and empower patients with information and direction.
P: Sounds interesting, can you illustrate?
HC: Sure! Is there any health issue that interests you?
P: Yeah! Actually I am a diabetic...
HC: Come let us sit and go through your needs in a seperate confidential cabin. (HC leads P to a cabin; the cabin is well appointed, has comfortable chairs, a desk, a LCD projector and screen, laptop linked to internet and a good audio system).
HC: How did you get diagnosed?
P: I would feel giddy many times, was irritable and would feel very tired after work, when I returned home. So I went to the neighborhood doctor, he did blood tests and so on and diagnosed me as diabetic. Right now I am on oral antidiabetic drugs, but he was saying that I may have to start with insulin therapy.
HC: Was it all as easy as you say?
P: No actually, I was disappointed, felt sad, and even scared as I recollected my couzin who died of kidney damage. He was a diabetic.
HC: (puts the LCD projector on and taps his laptop) Well, don't worry much - you are one of the 20 million diabetics in India and you will be surprised to note India has the maximum number of diabetics - even more than China, which is the most populous country in the world. Let us watch this short film on diabetes.
P: (after watching the interesting film, looks impressed and interested). So diabetes is controllable and we got to be careful of diabetic complications. The video was informative and motivating. So do I have to get on insulin - do any nutritional supplements work?
HC: The doctor will decide on the therapy. However, I should say there are a number of nutritional supplements, ayurvedic approaches, and homeopathic drugs in this sector. (Shows a book containing various dietary supplements pack shots with composition).
P: Can I meet an Ayurvedic doctor?
HC: Sure we have a panel of doctors, not in this building, but we can refer you to them. Meet and discuss with an Ayurvedic doctor on the right approaches, inform him that you are on allopathic drugs.
The discussion continues where the HC highlights the basics of Ayurveda and some herbs like Karela, and Meshashringi that are helpful. The patient is very interested and feels empowered. He gets information on nutrition and gets to connect to a nutritionist too.
P: So you kind of play a strategic role - sort of friend, philosopher and guide on health and therapy!
HC: We help patients realize his or her health goals by informing and helping the patient connect with different healthcare providers and other resources that society provides.
For eg., many arthritic patients have benefited through our counselling on supportive nutritional supplements and informing about physiotherapy. In fact, through physiotherapy the benefits have been radical! I also remember a patient with low back pain who took to Yoga through our counselling efforts and today his drug usage and supportive belt has come to almost nil!
P: So from here I not only gain knowledge or rather make some sense of all the health information, I get to discuss my health goals and even connect to various therapies and specialities!
HC: Sure from here you can connect to physiotherapists, spiritualists, Chinese Traditional Medicine experts, Yoga experts, Tibetan Medicine experts, Ayurveds, Allopaths, Homeopaths, nutritionists, Siddha and Unani experts and all types of experts who will help you reach your health goals. We can inform you on aromatherapy, color therapy , gem therapy, astrologers and so on and help you realize your health goals by connecting you to experts in these fields.
P: So how do you earn?
HC: Our revenues come from (a) the patient since he pays us based on the counselling provided (by us); (b) we get 20% commission of the fees you pay to the experts you visit (only the first time) and we have taken adequate safegaurds so we don't get cheated! In fact, we have a long term relationship with our patients so they are honest too (c) our HCP offers a pharmacy (allopathic drugs, ayurvedic drugs, homeo drugs, nutritional supplements etc) and fitness equipment including special diabetic and ortho supports are available under a single roof. We also have diagnostic lab facility here. We also sell health related books, CDs etc.
Actually we HCPs have an association now, with a code of conduct, a self - regulatory framework is in place. Some of the dos and donts are -
a) We present facts without bias
b) We do not talk ill of any therapy nor do we promote specific therapies or products
c) We endeavor to demystify and present health, disease and therapy data in an easily understandable fashion, to help patients take informed decisions
d) We charge consultancy fees and obtain reference fees from experts or doctors
e) We are commited to transparency in our dealings, yet we maintain strict confidentiality on patient related matters
f) We abide by the laws of the land
g) We pray for patient well being.
We have done very good stuff here - elderly patients have benefited for management of conditions like BPH and forgetfulness through our counselling and their informed decision making regarding dietary supplements like brahmi, and saw palmetto. In fact on our counselling they have also joined laughter therapy groups. Through counselling from us patients have learnt about pranayama and this has benefitted patients immensely.
We even offer telemedicine facilities, patients can transfer medical records via satellite for second opinions from experts based at remote locations.
In fact, our leads regarding ganoderma that is sold via direct selling agents has helped many diabetics and hypercholesterolemia patients.
Some patients have gained positive results from homeopathic treatment based on leads given by us.
We have an interesting project on now: a guy from a NGO had come for his personal couselling needs. We then got talking on various issues. He was fascinated by the information provided by us that Moringa oleifera (or drumstick) leaves are very nutritious. Drumstick plants are hardy and easy to grow. So we helped him connect to agri experts and today the NGO promotes cultivation and consumption of drumstick leaves in the backward and interior districts of North Karnataka, Orissa and West Bengal to improve the health status of particularly children and men.
We have patient education seminars on topics like AIDS (just joking - we are trying to get Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty in this session), Botox, gastric bypass surgery, Pen insulin, Exubera, ED, Viagra and other topics. We conduct health camps outside and send out newsletters.
Patients have benefited immensely with our counsel on Ayurvedic massage and Rasayana or rejuvenation concepts.
Many big pharmacies and hospitals have added HCP (Health Counsel Provider) departments.
So that's Nupath Health Counsel Center, Helping patients take informed decisions.
P: What if the patient gets confused with all this information here!
HC: Oh! No! He dosen't, we ensure that. What we do is that we counsel him or her and the patient creates a ROAD MAP that suits him to achieve his health goals. There is no hard sell here - only counsel.
P: Thanks!That was a great session!! I will tell my friends, relatives and family about HCPs and Nupath. You guys are doing a great job here.
HC: We encourage you to bring your acquaintances here to meet their healthcare needs and take informed decisions so as to achieve their health goals. Here is a free coupon for you. If you bring an acquantance here the next time for counselling, you can get your blood sugar checked here for free in exchange for this coupon.
As you will observe the above conversation is hypothetical and exposes the concept of HCP. This is a novel business idea. Do you think there is steam in this idea? I think there is viability in the novel business concept of HCP (Health Counsel Provider).
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