Health and fitness Feb, 27 2012

Affordable access to good health

Staying healthy at an affordable cost is not that tough now. Affordable healthcare services are here which offer the best treatments at most reasonable rates. Read on to know more about this emerging opportunity

By Neha Gohil
Feature Writer
Affordable access to good health

Good health is a valued asset, however staying healthy costs a lot these days. Exclusion of some prominent ailments like diabetes from health insurance cover, restrictions for senior citizens willing to take health insurance policies and lack of knowledge regarding various healthcare facilities provided by hospitals and consumers’ rights for availing various facilities in hospitals, calls for a healthcare education provider. A need has always been felt for a person who can educate patients about various diseases and can spread knowledge on leading centres that are affordable. However, the wait for such a health facilitator is now over with the emergence of ‘affordable healthcare facilitators’.

Affordable healthcare facilitators

Though in its nascent and highly unorganised stage, concept of healthcare providing consultancies is evolving as a promising business opportunity. The only organised brand till date in the industry is EKOHEALTH Management Consultants Pvt Ltd.  EKOHEALTH aims to offer one of the most extensive consumer driven healthcare saving programs in the country to individuals by facilitating discounts and value additions by empowering patients to come under one umbrella similar to a large corporate and facilitating bulk group bargained procedure rates and services. Explaining more on the concept Akash S Rajpal, MD&CEO, EKOHEALTH Management Consultants Pvt. Ltd says: “The mission of the company is 'making healthcare affordable'. We see that the senior citizens, patients with diabetes etc do not get insurance. They spend a lot on their health on daily basis. Moreover these patients do not visit healthcare providers more often because of cost constraints which worsen the diseases. Lack of doctor-patient engagement and lack of transparency makes healthcare costs more expensive. Ekohealth will educate patients bring in certificate courses in disease knowledge, awareness on leading doctors and centres, and costs. This will make patients better informed and they can negotiate with hospitals better. Ekohealth will also update electronically by e-mails, sms etc to member patients on desired health profiles, dosage/medication schedule alerts, second opinions, and forum interactions with leading doctors.”

EKOHEALTH aspires to provide affordable healthcare services at lower costs. It will further make a network of patients who will subscribe to EKOHEALTH discount card services to avail value additions like discount on hospitalisation, pharmacy purchases, complimentary checkups and better awareness on various healthcare trends and new services.


As mentioned EKOHEALTH is the only organised player in the industry so far. There are few other players, however they are unorganised. About the inception Rajpal says: “Being in health services in public and private sectors for 13 years, I am sensitive to pain points of both patients and healthcare providers. I saw a huge opportunity to bridge the gap here. To make healthcare affordable, patients better informed and providers better learned, Ekohealth (sanskrit 'ek' for 'number one' choice in health care, and sounds economical) was launched.” The brand presently operates two franchise centres and plans to be present in top 10 cities initially and later grow to Tier II and III cities in next three years. In terms of investment, it differs from city, region, state and country.  The investments primarily are into sales and dispatch force and admin office. There is also a franchise fee and operational cost.

Stimulating factors

Today 80 per cent of healthcare expenditure is out-of-pocket. Low health insurance penetration in the market coupled with the rising cost of medicines and huge hospitalisation bills discourage several patients from regular checkups. This has given rise to a new business opportunity of affordable healthcare facilitator. Some of the major stimulating factors responsible for the growth of this unique concept are:

  • Need for transparency: Majority of the people are unaware of their rights in hospitals. Also there is a need for transparency in the actual cost and expenditure occurred. This raised the need for a company which can make things better and transparent.
  • Unawareness: People lack knowledge in terms of health expenses and services. Sometimes they take insurance products without knowing the details. Most of the time people opt for organised players because of their marketing strategy and overlook several less popular centres.   
  • High expenses: Nowadays health care facilities cost a lot due to which people hesitate in going for regular health check-up. In fact buying insurance products and family doctors don’t help in cutting down the health cost.

Exclusive franchise opportunity

The ‘affordable healthcare facility’ is an exclusive business concept which is in its embryonic stage and has lot of concealed potential. It is a lucrative business opportunity with franchise value for many aspiring entrepreneurs. On the firm taking the franchise route Rajpal tells: “We have got an amazing conversion rate and response and our initiative at Mumbai grew bigger than anticipated. Looking at this great response, we have decided to expand pan India more rapidly. We feel that the franchise route will be a cost effective and efficient way to spread our wings faster. Pan India presence will also allow us to optimally use our central marketing budgets better to give a boost to all our branches and partners.”

Franchisor support

Before entering into a business venture one needs a basic training and knowledge of the concept. Explaining about the training and support Rajpal says: “There is a central training centre at Mumbai where the franchisees will nominate key personnel to train. The corporate team will train the staff. Supervision will happen on site from time to time. Daily MIS of sales will be shared.”

Challenges for franchisee

In every business venture one needs to face challenges like understanding concept, making it popular, training etc. To overcome such challenges Rajpal says: “Many people still have not understood our business as it is new. Therefore, domain knowledge is lacking. Franchisees may have a higher rate of attrition in staff. These problems can be overcome with our support by sending CVs, training, right selection, and networking.”

Franchise pre-requisites

Affordable healthcare facility concept can appeal to people mainly from the health field and who have better understanding of the concept. Rajpal explains the requisites of their franchisee: “We need people ideally from health care or allied experiences who understand pain points of both provider and patients. Labs, clinics, hospitals, physiotherapy centres, chemist shop etc, owners of these would be a good fit. However, people from any industry who have a drive and zeal to take this forward with creative thinking and networking skills would be the best choice for us to partner.”

In terms of investment Rajpal says: “The investment varies from city, region, state and country. There is a franchise fee and operational cost.”

To end it is apt to say that the concept is very promising and will reach out pan India. On the growth of the exclusive business opportunity Rajpal added: “This concept should go out beyond corporate and reach out to the retail customer at large. We are propagating our memberships as 'gift a health' to your loved ones.

Related: Healthy prospects for wealthy returns

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