You can either innovate or imitate. But innovative- imitation? It sounds like an oxymoron. But the fact is, moonshot visions don’t happen overnight & it makes sense to borrow ideas from business models working well in other verticals. OLA cabs & OYO rooms & food panda don’t own cabs or hotel rooms but deliver rides & rent rooms. They are similar delivery models.

Banking & healthcare have lot in common. Banking & healthcare both impact us in a significant manner. Digital healthcare is an uncharted territory & many of the decisions taken & models proposed do not have any precedent. Healthcare must borrow lessons & business models conceived & implemented within other industries. Any business model however disparate must share the most basic economic concept, supply & demand. If demand for a particular service exceeds the supply, then provision must be made to increase the supply to address the mismatch. Banking industry is a mature model, which has reached the plateau of “S” shaped learning curve; it shall make sense to cross-leverage this model rather than reinvent the wheel for healthcare.


Banking model has 3 distinct segments:

  1. The non-profitable routine activities like cash deposit, cash withdrawal, updating of pass-books are fully automated & kept outside the bank premises.
  2. The moderately profitable activities like home loans, over-drafts etc are done by low skilled general staff of the bank. Here too small ticket items like loans for cars, 2 wheelers & consumer goods are out-sourced to their franchisees.
  3. Highly profitable segments like corporate accounts, HNIs & foreign exchange are handled by specialists & Relationship officers. For e.g. in 2008 when there were rumors about “run” on ICICI bank, forcing big ticket corporate like Infosys to desert it. At that time it’s MD & CEO – Chanda Kochar intervened in the situation personally.

Banking has faced the issue of under-supply & took the digital route to find its way out. Now let’s look at Healthcare & we shall find similarities.

  1. About 60-70 % of the patient visits to Doctors concern predictive & preventive healthcare. These include follow up visits, second opinions & counseling sessions. These can be automated using telemedicine & other methods involving digital healthcare.
  2. The moderately profitable activities like hospital stays must be shortened. Hospitals can tie up with “Assisted healthcare providers” like Portea, Nightingale healthcare services (Bangalore), Care24 (Mumbai) & Doorstep health (Pune) to provide them. The tie up can be on a revenue sharing basis. Patient care & intervention procedures can be standardized using tools like WOCCOT-Workflow.
  3. Highly profitable & highly skilled activities like surgery, ICU care, trauma care etc which require skilled intervention must be handled by highly trained hospital staff & skilled surgeons.

Now let’s explore how the lessons from banking can be cross leveraged to healthcare.

  1. Standardization & personalization: Most of the routine activities of the bank are highly standardized & uniform. Thus routine services of the bank are location & branch agnostic.  Extending things further there shall be international standards like Bassel-3 norms for the banks world over.

Healthcare is a still very personalized & there is hardly interoperability of services. In US there are standards like HIPPA, HCAHPS & FDA which ensure basic minimum standards & uniformity, but India has to cover a lot of ground here.

  1. Security: Both banking & digitized healthcare deal with a high volume of sensitive data. The techniques for data protection & risk management of data can be replicated for digital healthcare. While there is a financial incentive is hacking financial data, which makes it attractive for hackers to breach in, the threat perception is lower in healthcare in the absence of tangibles.
  2. Regulatory framework: There are about 3000 hospitals having 100+ beds in India. 20 large chains own about 350-400 of these. Even these large chains are pygmies by US standards. Thus the Hospital scenario is marked by numerous small players.

Similarly India is populated by numerous regional banks, cooperative banks, micro-finance players etc. Still all of them operate under regulatory frame work. Barring stray incidents banking sector has been relatively stable one.

Healthcare can borrow ideas for regulatory framework from the finance sector.

  1. Big data: The concept of “Big data” is a recent one. However as the banks are already in possession of humungous amount of data, they shall be first to move in that space. Banks shall offer boutique solutions leveraging “Big data”. Healthcare too must learn from banking experience. It can integrate existing EMRs & genomics to deliver personalized medicine using analytic techniques.

There won’t be a perfect fit between solutions applicable in banking industry & healthcare industry. Hence innovative imitation may be adopted, as it makes sense to plan innovative imitation rather than planning innovation itself.