Addressing the Market Gap for Healthcare Services through Networks

Varun Gera, Founder & CEO – HealthAssure

With an experience of over 23 years in the Corporate world and many functional roles from Consulting, Retail Sales, Product, General Management and industries like Consumer Finance, Healthcare, Office Automation, etc, Varun Gera feels fortunate to have worked with brands like GE, UnitedHealthcare, ICICI Bank, etc.

In 2011, he founded HealthAssure, a health services Company that aggregates primary care medical services in 850 cities and service clients like Deutsche Bank, Loreal, Cigna, First Rand Bank, Mylan, Apollo Munich, etc.  Prior to his entrepreneurial stint, Varun was the Chief Executive Officer, UnitedHealthcare, India, a Fortune 21 Company, where he facilitated high growth of the domestic business by five-fold to reach 1.5 Million customers while maintaining Company’s Leadership position through continued Innovation, Product Development and their premium position.

Varun Gera initiated HealthAssure to service the Consumer Market Gap for Healthcare Services for Network Access, Discount & Knowledge. A strong team of Health industry leaders joins him in this venture with the company’s Head Office located in Mumbai.

In a period of 4 years, HealthAssure has acquired some of the largest organisations in the Insurance/ Corporate Segment viz, Apollo Munich, Max Life, Deutsche Bank, MetLife, Max Bupa, Cigna, Bharti Axa, Cigna, Wipro, etc.

Varun holds a degree from University of Notre Dame, U.S.A. and Masters in Business Administration and is an Economics Honors Graduate from Delhi University, India. He is also an active member of Industry Bodies like CII and FICCI for Health Insurance Industry and for Healthcare Innovation Initiatives. Varun is a keen trekker and enjoys cycling and astronomy.

He shares some more insights from his journey with team ABT here.

Who is your greatest Inspiration & Why?
The world is my inspiration and I keep looking for direction from anyone or anything for different aspects. I get inspired by Steve Jobs for his Product development and market connect, by entrepreneurs like Carnegie and Ford for having a vision and fighting all odds to achieving them, by my daughter for her kind nature or anyone I meet during the day.

Tell us about your journey & experience in the Healthcare Sector in India
Indian Healthcare sector like any other Country is complex and is evolving very rapidly.  India is a large and diverse country with various socio economic segments, language barriers, varied accessibility and awareness levels.  Over the last 15-20 years there has been a significant investment in secondary, tertiary care, insurance, primary care and more recently in health services and technology.

I have been closely associated with most areas related to Healthcare and have been fortunate to make contributions towards the development of the system through association with industry bodies like CII Health Committees and FICCI.  Another way we have been able to impact the health market through our Company – HealthAssure’s business initiatives. I see the healthcare industry having tremendous potential and India with its vibrant entrepreneurial talent becoming the becon for healthcare in the region if not the world.

Tell us about more about HealthAssure & how is it a unique solution?
HealthAssure is a ‘Network Based Product Company’ focused on providing flexible solutions to the ‘Primary Care’ segment within the healthcare eco-system.  As there is a lot of inefficiency in terms of access to primary care services like dental, pediatric, diagnostic and other areas of treatment when it comes to knowledge, access or quality of care. One of our primary objectives is to focus on providing preventive care services, which are ‘Accessible, Available & Affordable’. Ever since we started, we have been focused on creating the best medical network across 850 cities, with over 2500 primary care centers as part of this network. We strive to keep evolving our sophisticated technological platform with web and mobile applications for our customers to provide intuitive services based on their requirements and also get access to the best network for a medical facility closest to them.

How were the initial days like, do you recall any challenges faced & how you overcame them?
Shifting from a corporate set up to an entrepreneurial set up comes with its own set of challenges. As an entrepreneur, you have to be very hands-on and start from ground zero, whether it is dealing with the electrician, the plumber, or a team member of your client or an investor. And that’s a little difficult initially.

The biggest challenge for any start-up, of course, is to keep innovating, no matter what the funding is like, and establish trust with the potential clients to give them business. For us, it was to evolve in order to create and maintain our uniqueness in the industry, while also keeping ourselves updated on the latest technology and business practices.

How has the profession transformed today, in light of digital & media influences?
One sees transformation in almost all areas of healthcare in India viz. Secondary and tertiary care where hospitals are trying to move towards better quality of care and centers of excellence; Primary care too have witnessed large investments to provide quality access for day to day care for a variety of services across the country and city; many start-ups has entered the areas of homecare which is a real need for many customers; there are also new services like ICU at home. We also witness a lot of technology play for integration of various forms of medical deliveries above. Even the fitness and wellness space has been growing rapidly in India.

Driven by the rise of new technologies, healthcare is moving from hospitals and clinics to homes and communities. From smartphones to social media to sensors, new tools have started empowering consumers with more information and control over their healthcare decisions and this power is only likely to grow in the years to come.

Could you recall any one proud moment from your professional journey?
It is difficult to recall one proud moment from my journey as an entrepreneur as one is always trying to push further. However, there are moments to reflect on when the market recognizes your Company’s achievements in various forums and when you see your team achieving market wins

What would you like to achieve in the coming years?
So far, HealthAssure has scaled up briskly. In 2016, we serviced 200k customers and since inception we have serviced more than 4000,000 customers.  We are doubling year-on-year, and we see a medium-term potential of 3 million customers in our portfolio. We aim to build our network further and create more and more products for the customers that include Corporates, Individuals and Insurers. We are also looking to further leverage the potential of technology to bring healthcare closer to our customers.