This is the second essay I'm writing, inspired by my visit to the OASIS Summit. I was deeply moved after gaining the belief that we can harness available technology to make quality healthcare affordable for the 1.2 billion people in India. During this journey, I witnessed the profound impact of human collaboration and the power of openness in certain aspects of functioning, which can unlock a society's and, consequently, humanity's potential.
When I wrote my initial document on Jile Health, it was born out of a personal problem, and I had no clear approach to the solution. Both of us, my co-founder and I, were outsiders in this domain. However, past failures have taught me that there is no better approach than maintaining a child-like curiosity and employing a first-principle approach. This is how we navigated our way towards finding a solution. We didn't start with a solution; we began with a mission - Making Quality healthcare affordable for the 1.2 billion Indians -, a problem statement.
Midway through our journey, we felt that this was a problem that could be solved (every problem is solvable), but it needed to be imagined differently. It couldn't follow the conventional paths that most profit and non-profit organizations had been pursuing for years. Our advantage lay in being on the ground, granting us access to unfiltered conversations with various stakeholders, including patients and small healthcare providers.
Hence, at times, I found myself chuckling at comments like "the bottom 90% can't afford healthcare" because these narratives are often sensationalized for clicks. The reality is that this marginalized population constitutes less than 2%. And we are forming our decisions based on a few stories from this 2%. Still, even this 2% (2.8 crore, or 28 million) is a significant number, and we should strive to reduce it to zero. To put it in perspective, there are over 100 countries in the world with populations smaller than 28 million.
So, the next time you form a preconceived notion about India based on a few stories, remember that the reality on the ground can be vastly different. Another narrative revolves around the decline in rural sales for companies like HUL and P&G, suggesting a slowing rural India. However, using the generic term "rural" without considering quintiles tells us very little. We need to ask, "Rural of which quintile?" What we've observed is different: consumers from the lower quintiles (Q1) in rural areas prefer not to buy from HUL or P&G due to concerns about product quality and the availability of local brands at better prices.
It's crucial to remember that India has a population of 140 crore (1.4 billion). So, forming preconceived notions based on a few articles is misleading. On the consumption side, there's a lack of products and services tailored for all eight quintiles (both 3-urban and 5-rural). The advantage here is that if you develop products and services specifically designed for any of the eight quintiles, they often become suitable and affordable for the rest of the quintiles, particularly in Healthtech and Insurance. Incidentally, we are building at the intersection of Healthtech and Insurance. :)
Returning to my visit to OASIS, one of the purposes was to explore open-source software that could be used to create an affordable Health Management Information System (HMIS) and other software-based solutions for small healthcare providers. We understood the root cause behind the lack of HMIS adoption, despite over 500 companies offering HMIS software. Feeling overwhelmed, I returned to Patna on the 17th night, and we deployed all components of an ABDM-enabled HMIS in the next three days. To be honest, we didn't achieve the final version ready for provider deployment. We had to eliminate many unnecessary components from the HMIS. Nonetheless, this collaboration significantly reduced our development time from six months to one month. We still need resources for deployment, but thanks to this collaboration, we can offer HMIS to 3.2 million small providers at almost zero cost.
We've already tested M1 with a couple of providers, but the production version is not yet ready for deployment. We anticipate fixing a few errors in the coming days. When we pause to think about the impact and value that HMIS will create once deployed for 3.2 million small providers, it could amount to trillions of dollars. This was made possible by a group of humans collaborating to create an open-sourced HMIS, another group collaborating to maintain the software, a third group sponsoring my trip to OASIS, and finally, us utilizing it. We're removing unnecessary parts to make it available to 3.2 million small providers at nearly zero cost. This success reflects the ultimate power of human collaboration, the driving force behind humanity's progress, albeit with certain trade-offs, such as addressing the climate problem.
This isn't a new phenomenon; throughout history, most value has emerged from human collaboration and consensus. Every word I use in this essay, every scientific/mathematical formula, and every term we employ daily are outcomes of collaboration we've collectively accepted. One story that deeply resonates with me is the universal acceptance of ZERO by humanity.
This part of the essay, I wrote and never published ( I prevent my temptation to publish 70% of content that I write) after reading the book - Biography of Zero. And that brought an infinite optimism in me and the power of human collaboration and solving complex problems.
I find it hard to believe that we as humanity can’t solve even a single problem if we simply collaborate. I have written an essay on this topic - there is not even a single problem that we can’t solve. But the source of that optimism would be human collaboration and agreeing and accepting universality.
If we scroll through 5000+ years of history and look at the current world and our way of living - many of the things we have just agreed to use and decided collectively. And every single time we have taken that decision - we have moved the human race forward. And sometimes, we have paid the price as well. The adoption of a numbering system along with zero is one of the great examples of human collaboration.
Historically, all civilizations have their own numbering, languages (still have), culture etc. And out of all that if we look at the current numbering, zero, mathematics system- it has found its universality and is used by almost all humans. If you really ask me, humans accepting one numbering system and zero is a great example of how - we humans can collaborate and make this world a better place.
Reflecting on this, I believe that as a species, we can solve any problem through collaboration. There isn't a single problem we can't overcome when we choose to collaborate and universally accept solutions. The adoption of a numbering system along with zero is a prime example of human collaboration. Climate change, too, can only be tackled through collaboration. In this context, "The Autobiography of Zero" is an insightful read.
Before we wrap up this essay: To be frank, Jile Health's potential to make quality healthcare affordable and accessible for 1.2 billion Indians at an accelerated velocity depends on our effective collaboration with other healthcare and healthtech organizations. We must learn from them, convert expensive solutions available only to a fraction of India's population (the top 2 urban quintiles) into digital solutions using available resources (and almost everything is available from technology pov), evidence-based data points, and distribute them through smartphones while keeping the right stakeholders in the loop. In this way, the company could potentially become India's biggest tech company - we aspire every day keeping our mission at the centre… :)
Thanks for reading, if you find my essay insightful, please share this in your network. I shall see you all next week :)