HBI Awards 2017 Building a primary healthcare brand across India

Healthspring has more than 30 health clinics across Mumbai, Pune, Gurgaon & Bangalore. Apart from this Healthspring offers corporate wellness and occupational health solutions to more than 100 corporate and industrial clients across India.

Healthspring started with a vision of building a pan-India primary health care network with a focus on preventive care and putting the customer first. Healthspring has built a brand by meeting unmet needs in the consumer space – from safe and modern facilities to providing all required consumer primary care needs under one roof ensuring a high level of customer service, and making customer feedback a key metric in all decisions

Full application

1. Briefly describe the organisation giving the number of facilities, staff, revenue numbers.

Healthspring has more than 30 health clinics across Mumbai, Pune, Gurgaon & Bangalore which service our retail customers. Apart from this, we offer corporate wellness and occupational health solutions to more than 100 marquee corporate and industrial clients across India. We have been operational for more than 5 years with a current employee count of over 1000, which includes over 120 full-time doctors.

2. Please describe what steps the nominated organisation carried through in the best building of a brand. These are likely to include market research, changes to services, the communication of brand values and the measurement of brand impact.

Healthspring aims to be a 1 stop solution for all health needs of the consumers – a modern Family Physician who delivers personalized care and also acts as a Health Manager for individuals & their families.

Hence, we provide all required consumer primary care needs under one roof (including, besides Doctor Consultations, pharmacy, pathology, physiotherapy and dental), ensuring a high level of customer service, and making customer feedback a key metric in all decisions. Through our specialist hospital network, we ensure that all the secondary and tertiary healthcare escalations are managed by Healthspring or routed as per internationally accepted and proven protocols.

Our focus while developing healthcare solutions is on the urban middle-income segment. This fast growing segment possesses the income and willingness to spend money on quality health care. However, the poor infrastructure of India’s public health system and the high costs associated with admission to private hospitals (bulk of this spending is out of pocket) leaves them with a paucity of options.

1) Consumer-centric approach to brand-building– In the Indian context, for most healthcare brands the primary audience is the providers i.e. GPs, Specialists, and Hospitals. Very few healthcare brands market their products directly to the end consumer, since the other (Business-to-Business) channels are assumed to be more effective and remunerative, at least in the short run. In some cases (e.g. prescription drugs manufactured by pharma companies), Direct-to-Consumer communication is against the rules laid out by medical, legal and regulatory authorities. Hence very few healthcare offerings are designed only with the end consumer in mind, and instead primarily focus on incentivizing referral networks to enable quick customer acquisition.

1a) In contrast, Healthspring started with a vision of building a pan-India primary health care network with a focus on preventive care and putting the customer first.
1b) Unlike a hospital or a pharma company, Healthspring does not associate with any referral network to drive patients to its clinics – instead, customers choose to come to Healthspring for their medical needs.
1c) Effective B2C communication (using various channels) has thus been a central component of our marketing strategy, and indeed Healthspring is today one of the most prominent consumer healthcare delivery brands in the country.
1d) Even more important than the communication, Healthspring has built a brand by meeting unmet needs in the consumer space – from safe, modern and world-class facilities, to providing all required consumer primary care needs under one roof (including, besides Doctor consultations, pharmacy, pathology, physiotherapy and dental), ensuring a high level of customer service, and making customer feedback a key metric in all decisions

2) Building trust – In India (as in many places around the world), the perception of healthcare delivery as a service and profession has unfortunately moved from being trusted & respected to one which often invites scepticism and accusations of over-commercialization. This is because many of India’s doctors feel compelled to spend a disproportionate amount of energy and focus on sourcing and monetizing patients, and hence acquire an “entrepreneurial” or “business” mindset – as opposed to that of a care provider. (There are many structural reasons for this, ranging from the regulatory landscape to the state of the country’s medical education system).

2a) At Healthspring, we have believed from the outset in restoring trust to the medical profession by creating full-time employment for Doctors, with a clear and transparent career path, state-of-the-art training, and a compelling benefits program.
2b) Most importantly, no part of our doctors’ compensation is tied to volume or revenues generated – instead, the 10% of their pay that is “performance-based” is driven by three non-commercial metrics: a 6-monthly medical audit by our Clinical Excellence team, a widely-used customer-satisfaction rating called “Net Promoter Score”, and a teamwork score (since we believe our clinics deliver the best care when the entire team works together).
2c) The main pillars of our customer service offering are – high-quality, standardised medical care driven by evidence-based protocols; a focus on excellent customer experience and convenience; and dependability and ethics
2d) As a result our doctors take all decisions based on what is best for patients – that has translated to appropriate and conservative care (referral rate to hospitals and specialists of < 2% and < 5% respectively), which are 3-5X lower than with regular GPs)

3) Building a sustainable model through consumer choice. Unlike many developed countries where primary care services are (either fully or in part) paid for by insurance companies or by the government, in India these services are paid for entirely by the end consumer. So to ensure sustainability of its business model, Healthspring has maintained a sharp focus on quality of service, trial from consumers to ensure that a steady in-flow of patients, and high repeat usage.

3a) Given the nascency of the organized primary care industry in India and the fact that Healthspring has been creating a brand in a relatively new service category, our brand communication has been focused above all on generating trials.
3b) Our experience has been that once the customer experiences care inside our clinics, they almost always return – hence the key has been to generate the initial trail, and for most customers that initial trial has been a health check or a set of diagnostics tests customized to their needs.
3c) We do this through a combination of brand-building communication as well as activation-based marketing (Below The Line or BTL activities).
3d) Our BTL efforts give us an opportunity to get a first-hand feedback from our customers, which helps us optimize our strategy, tailor our offering for trial & paid services as per demand, refine our communication and fine-tune the execution. In most cases, it also gives the customer an opportunity to interact with Healthspring experts and take an informed decision.
3e) Finally, our Above The Line or ATL communication is directed towards providing leverage to the BTL efforts by way of upfront inquiries, greater trust for the brand and hence better closure rates overall, typically through a combination of Newspaper and Digital communication. The above approach works at two important levels –
– It helps Healthspring acquire customers while they are healthy, and not just when they are sick, which is central to the sustainability of our business model
– It helps customers diagnose health issues in advance – India’s disease burden today is weighted towards chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac stress and mental health disorders. All of these are conditions that, if caught in advance, can be treated and controlled before a potentially life-threatening or damaging event occurs.
– Following the health check, our doctors provide each customer with a comprehensive “Roadmap to Good Health”, or a customized care plan incorporating diet, exercise, medication and lifestyle changes, along with regularly scheduled follow-ups from our clinic team.

3. When were the brand changes launched?

Month : January
Year : 2014

4. What has been the impact of the change?

We have serviced more than 400,000 customers in the last 3 years. The campaign has achieved its overall objective of bringing more customers under the care umbrella of Healthspring, and also helped multiply revenues several times over. We have witnessed a significant increase in our customer base, while also seeing sharp growth in the number of customers enrolling for yearlong preventive care memberships which gave them access to unlimited doctor consultations, tele-consults, 24×7 medical emergency response, and online electronic medical health records.

In 2.5 years we have gone from an annualised revenue run rate of Rs. 9.8 Cr, or $1.5M (May 2014 run rate annualised) to Rs. 55 Cr, or $8.6M (Jan 2017 Revenue run rate annualised), i.e. 5.5X.

More to the point, our retail, or clinic, revenues have gone from an annualised run rate of $750K in May 2014 to $ 8.7M in Jan 2017, or a growth of 8.6X. This would be directly related to the campaign and the brand building.

Our monthly footfall at the clinics has increased ~7X over the same period, and we have grown average customer lifetime value by 35%-50%, depending on the category of customers.

We have managed to serve more than 400,000 customers in the last 3 years, including retail customers and customers who utilise our services as a part of the corporate annual wellness package.

5. How has this impact been measured?

a. Customer satisfaction and feedback – Eventually all brand building must lead into customer experience, and what the customer thinks of the brand. Healthspring takes customer feedback very seriously and has a dedicated Customer Experience department which manages the process of collecting, analysing and acting on feedback. A key metric that we use and track is Net Promoter Score (NPS) which measures how many of our customers would be advocates of the Healthspring brand and repeat users of our services – we are proud to consistently see 80-90% NPS scores across our clinics.

b. Strong retail customer retention and renewal rates – In sync with the feedback our customers give us, we also see very high retention and renewal rates for our subscription-based programs. 79% of our customers who subscribe to a membership program choose to continue to be associated with Healthspring (either through the same program or a different service) and 61% of our customers choose to renew the same membership.

Each customer who walks into Healthspring for any services, such as a doctor consultation, diagnostic test or annual health check, is requested to provide a feedback on the services rendered.

This feedback is captured in an electronic format using a tablet which is kept at each Healthspring clinic and links directly to our central team. We track the customer fill rates vs. the visits at the centre, and work to increase feedback rates – currently, we are consistently above a 30% fill rate.

The feedback itself is focused on the Net Promoter Score (NPS), i.e. whether the customer would recommend us to a friend or family member. Our NPS has consistently been between 80-90% every month and is further segmented by centre and provider. We follow up over the phone with customers who have been dissatisfied and target a service recovery within 2 days, ideally.

We separately have a customer experience team who call a sample of customers who have not filled in the feedback form and collect detailed qualitative feedback which we use to enhance our service offerings.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Daisy Hotopf or call 0207 183 3779.