Last September, Apollo joined Aircel to launch a tele healthcare delivery project. Tele medicine and tele triage facilities were made available to over 45 million subscribers of Aircel under the project then. Apollo at present has a capacity to cater to 100 million users. Apollo Hospitals has tied up with Idea Cellular and is in talks with three more telecom service providers for its mobile healthcare delivery programme. The company also wants to rope in insurance companies and other private sector firms to widen the network. The programme is also trying to rope in insurance companies, who already provide coverage to the patients, and can extend it to mobile health, thus making the service free of cost. With the subscribers of new service providers incorporated into the programme, Apollo expects to provide the service to 300 million users in 12 months. Apollo is expanding the service with more number of telecom service providers and is also adding more associated services in the platform.
MVNO has been a concept that has been scorned at after the debacle of the Virgin-Tata Teleservices MVNO effort. Sunil Bharti Mittal had written of MVNOs in a statement in 2009 and the industry seems to have forgotten the MVNO concept. I have always maintained that MVNO done the right way will be a business model that could create difference in the end game: revenues and bottomlines. Towards this, I had many months earlier provided the examples of European MVNOs who are engaged in delivering differentiated value to consumers.
To me, the Apollo model is a ideal and exemplary manner of launching MVNO services in India even though it is not referred to as MVNO services in the first place. Tele Medicine/Healthcare is an invaluable tool in health care as it helps patients to get service from doctors even in remote areas without the need of patient’s physical presence at Doctor’s clinic. The patient data is collected through various processes like history, data-entry, biometrics and integration of medical equipment. The data is stored and shared between healthcare professionals to diagnose, treat and follow-up be it (regular treatment, post–surgery etc).Some of the significant benefits are, reduced patient health risks; enhanced access to care for patients living in rural/remote areas; reduced healthcare delivery costs; saves time and travel; minimized hospital admissions and objective and timely clinical information.
Tele-Healthcare is a model consumer need and business opportunity and tele-healthcare delivery could be a huge platform. It would work on three levels
1. Tele-Triage: Treatment of common ailments which could take the crowd out of the clinics and hospitals. The Tele-healthcare provides an essential touchpoint for quick resolution of the common and daily health problems.
2. By integrating other services such as insurance, the platform could be versatile in terms of cross functional integration: Insurance, Medicine, Hospital services and more. This would take the pain out of healthcare services.
3. At a higher level, specific devices and healthcare apps could get integrated to deliver higher order medicine/healthcare services to people. Imagine not having to go to the clinic for bllod tests every week and instead doing the test at home and sending the relevant reports to the doctor.
From a business model perspective, Telecom Service providers need to look at services such as Healthcare, Learning and Long Distance education, utilities as a means of augmenting their drying profit streams. The sooner the better. MVNOs are promising in this space.