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Future Of Women Entrepreneurs In Healthcare Sector

The Indian healthcare ecosystem is vibrant yet paradoxical. On the one hand, there is a large growing health care ecosystem that is changing rapidly and adopting new technologies such as robotics, telehealth, artificial intelligence and building high-end super speciality driven hospitals and tech-enabled startups. On the other hand, there is a sub-optimal primary care ecosystem around the country and resource-constrained hospitals in rural and remote India, coupled with rising costs of healthcare in the cities of India. The vibrancy and the gaps create opportunities for entrepreneurs in the health care sector of India.

Women are particularly suited to be entrepreneurs in healthcare for several reasons:

- Healthcare, unlike perhaps other industries, needs empathy and compassion as a fundamental characteristic trait. Entrepreneurs who are empathetic towards the needs of their patients and users as well as their staff and employees can hope to grow and do well. Women certainly have empathy in abundance or so we believe

- Healthcare ventures need collaborations. Between doctors, engineers, admin, marketing, finance etc. Women by nature are collaborative and women entrepreneurs can use this skill well to grow their entities

- CID agents! Women tend to dig deep past what is presented to them. This helps in getting to the root of each issue and putting in a fix. Healthcare has so many variables where errors can occur. Detective entrepreneurs have an edge

Healthcare entrepreneurship is not a 9-6 job. It allows for flexibility in hours. So for women, as entrepreneurs, they have the power to create their own schedules and work around their other familial obligations.

Healthcare has traditionally attracted women to the work force for e.g. in nursing and in medical schools where today 50-60 per cent of the classrooms in India are women. Therefore, as a woman entrepreneur one gets to work with one’s own female tribe.

The downside perhaps is the perceived inability of women to raise money and drive hard negotiations that may be needed as an entrepreneur. Of course, money is needed to start or grow a health care enterprise, like any other enterprise. However, too much money in health care is not a great idea. When health care enterprises have to make returns for investors, there is pressure on the doctors and systems to generate more revenue. And how does one generate returns in healthcare. More tests, more procedures, more pharmacy items, more referrals, more 'commissions'. If a doctor is able to work without considering revenue, either for himself or for the organisation, then he/she is able to practice medicine for the pure joy of making patients better, improving their wellness and positively impacting their mental health. Healthcare organisations must be viewed as social enterprises. They need to be sustainable and profitable, but the profits can be pumped back into growth or patient value adds. Women entrepreneurs are perhaps therefore better fits for this sector.

Suggestions for entrepreneurs venturing into healthcare space:

- Have patience

- Get into it for the long haul. Things take time, success doesn’t come overnight. Being around long enough leads to brand recognition which is important in healthcare as patients need to ‘trust’ 

- Be clear on the purpose and way

With healthcare needs and opportunities growing in India, the future looks incredible for Indian women entrepreneurs.

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