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Fear of being a part of the crowd: why is today the best time to build modern Healthcare for billions?

In my village, when I was in school, till 8th (Dasaut, Bihar), in a batch of 50 students, I was among the intelligent ones, and hence I was also popular among teachers and girls - almost everyone knew me by my name. And TBH, you do get that dopamine of that attention. Subsequently, when I moved to Darbhanga for my +2 education 40KM from my village, I was suddenly in a batch of 300+ students. A fear struck my mind: I might end up being part of the crowd. Hence I started studying for uncountable hours: I would prepare the chapters, that would be taught by the teacher, a day before in the evening, so I could answer the teacher’s questions and solve numerical on the blackboard. The outcome of my hard work was visible: I was a known face among the 300+ students and also popular among girls. The same fear continued when I moved to Chennai for engineering, but writing about that is out of the scope of this essay. However, today, I have a different POV on the fear of being part of the crowd that I will answer at the end of this essay. Also, do you have the same fear?   


In this essay, I would like to answer why today is the best time to build suitable and affordable healthcare for billions of Indians from the centuries of evolution of science and technology. Let’s get started…    

  

Most often we miss the fundamental aspect of progress before trying to bend the rules, thinking of innovation, or take a novel approach to solve a problem etc. And most often apply blind parallel without any socio and economic underlying understanding. And this is especially true for our ecosystem. The first wave of “For India” was a testament to that blind parallel approach. It is great that we, as an ecosystem, are learning fast. Today, at this stage of my life, I am super careful in allocating my time and often feel bad, in case I waste time that I do (after all, I am a normal human). 80% of this essay is part of an internal essay, I wrote to myself: why I should spend the next 2 decades of my life solving this problem for billions of Indians. I hope you find it useful.    

 

Even though we as a species have evolved from single-cell species in the past 3.8 billion years, and origin of the humans is only for around 10,000+ years, however, we only consider the origin of civilisation from the time we started writing - of course, initially on the clay board - around 5000 years. 


The foundation of most of the things that we use every day in our lives has an origin of many thousands of years. And in most cases, we technically go through many decades and centuries of progress and improvement. For Example, suppose someone would like to improve maths or make a significant contribution: they must start with the Greek mathematician Pythogerious - geometry - in fact, even before the numbering system the acceptance of zero which took many thousands of years, and in the process covering the entire timeline. In net, to study math and add some innovation - we have to study thousands of years of contributions. Otherwise, we will always never be able to identify the novelty. This is true for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Structural science etc. This is one of the reasons, why contributions in these fields are mostly by old humans - above 50+. Have you ever seen twenty years bring a significant contribution to Math, Science, Physics Bio etc? Most probably not, right? Einstein was an exception! This is obvious because the amount of time that an individual needs to spend to understand the thousands of years of contribution takes time.  


However, at the same time, for anything new (accumulation in terms of foundation is only a few years) chances for a young team bending the rules of the game and innovating are much higher. This is one of the reasons why young folks dominated the initial few decades of internet-based businesses - it was fresh technology with just a few years of foundational layers. However, the average age of the founders building tech companies has already started widening. AI is a great example on the technology side, considering there have been just an odd 50 years of work. Genomics, DNA sequencing, bioengineering etc are also in a similar stage considering the foundation of the industry is just 50 to 60 years. Electric is also in the same stage for the Indian market considering this is a young market with just 20 years of foundation. The chances of bending and writing new rules are much higher, and we have seen progress, long way to go. 


Like the above example, India’s Healthcare is in a similar stage where the foundational work is less than a decade. You might be wondering hey, healthcare has been with civilisation at the origin. We already have the terms for such medical conditions - Diseases of Civilizations. For example, the root of diabetes is from thousands of years back in ancient Egypt, the same is true for cardiovascular (CVS) Diseases, in that case calling the Healthcare foundational new would be incorrect, no? 


You are right, the origin of Healthcare from the origin of civilization is thousands of years of accumulation. However, the foundation that Indian providers have been using has already expired because many of those have been copied from the West, and the data points released by The World Health Organization (WHO) were mostly based on the percentile of many decades back when the lifespan was smaller, there were no lifestyle diseases, the average BMI where lower, the cells were not evolved thanks to the formation/evolution of new invisible species. But we are still using the same Biological reference to evaluate medical conditions, the same salt composition is used for the evolved cells, the same diagnosis systems/methods are being used for treatment etc. 


You can understand the depth of the above argument from this example: let’s say two humans have the same type of Cancer (Just assume) at the same stage, on the same body part - yet the treatment and chemical composition of the drugs will be different. Here is another example, in 1971 the average USA’s weight was 173 pounds, and now the average is 200 pounds. ( I struggled to find the same data for India). Now, I need to get into the technicality of Healthcare, however, it is not that complex to understand. And this part is also the spine of the healthcare because in the Healthcare continuum diagnosis is the most important part of the system. Many of the Harmone-based Biological references are factored on Weight and when there is a complete shift in the average weight, the old biological references are of no use.


To validate my above hypothesis, I talked to longevity scientist - Dr. Marcus - who is also running Human Edge. When I asked the same question about the outdated nature of the Biological reference utilized in the diagnosis. His response was more radical: “There is nothing called normal. There is nothing called Good and Bad cholesterol. The current system is so outdated that it should be thrown out of windows. We use a real-time biological measuring device to evaluate patient’s conditions.” Marcus' response to my question was a validation of the need for disruption.  


This essentially means, today, you don’t have thousands of years of foundation to study to do something novel in Healthcare in India. We are talking about novelty in almost every aspect of Healthcare that is directly related to technology which itself has only a few decades of foundations. Hence today is the best time to bring innovation in Healthcare in India and make Healthcare affordable and accessible for billions of Indians and for the rest of the world. 


This is one of the best parts of what excites me about building Healthcare for billions of Indians. I am like a person who gets bored as soon as there is a monotonous in my work - my mind demands this challenge, complexity, and newness every single time. Healthcare is something that demands that kind of mindset where the opportunity to bend the rules, write new rules, and bring innovation at each stage of the stakeholder journey will be utilized for many decades to come.  


Coming back to the point of whether, today, I have a fear of being part of the crowd (meanwhile what’s your response) or not - the answer can’t be binary, it is more nuanced. The fact is in some 7 billion humans, you will always be part of a crowd. So, today, the fear is more around whether my work will make a contribution to the world for fellow humans or not. From that context, of course, you don’t want to be invisible. But, today, I don’t have the similar fear that I had for the initial 20 years of my life - it is a matured fear as I have matured (lol). What about you?


Thanks for reading, if you find this informative - share this with your network. 


I shall see you all the next week 🙂  


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