ITC DIA Europe

Promoting employee performance and retention via improved health, vitality and wellness

Written by Jolijn Schalkwijk on Mar 18, 2024

Asher Hasan is a well-known social entrepreneur, founder of several startups across fintech and insurtech, an investor in AI companies, and an inspiring speaker, for example at TEDx. He co-founded Naya Jeevan & doctHERS. Naya Jeevan (“New Life” in Hindi and Urdu) is an insurance intermediary that provides workers and corporate value chains with access to insurance benefits, such as health and life insurance. doctHERS is a gender-equal telemedicine company that consists of a very large network of female healthcare providers that provide high-quality services to beneficiaries, including those in corporate value chains.

We sat down with Asher to talk about his work for ‘The missing middle’ in South Asia, how he is bringing this model to other markets, and how that can provide healthcare services at a fraction of the cost.

What was your motive for starting companies such as Naya Jeevan and doctHERS?

“65% of the emerging world lacks access to affordable and quality healthcare. They are stuck in what’s called “the missing middle”. They are neither able to afford health insurance nor are they eligible for government-financed social security programs, which target the ultra-poor or the bottom of the economic pyramid. Only 10% has been mobilized by conventional insurance companies whose focus has been restricted to hospitalization insurance in emerging markets. At both Naya Jeevan and doctHERS, we cover all layers of the social economic pyramid. However, 90% of our customer base is focused on the middle segments which are workers in corporate value chains. These workers include suppliers, smallholder farmers, retailers, distributors, and factory workers. We enrol them in one of four types of programs: Workforce retention programs, Performance programs, Retailer incentive programs and Supplier Quality assurance programs.”

How do you make sure these programs are financially sustainable?

“These programs are all co-financed by multinationals such as Mondelez, Friesland Campina, Pepsi, Reckitt, and Unilever. The reason why these multinationals finance these programs is the financial return on investment. Over the past six years that we’ve been running this program with Unilever, they have achieved a 150% financial return on their investment. They now want to further scale this program from the current 30,000 insured that are enrolled in the program to about 150,000 across about 2,500 retailers.”

How do you achieve health risk reduction, and profitability with this program?

“Over the past few years, we’ve introduced the “Continuity of Care” model. This model represents a value chain that starts from screening to diagnostic validation to treatment and goes on to secondary prevention. This is something that creates a lot of value, both for our beneficiaries who are enrolled in these types of programs, as well as for us and for the insurance companies that are underwriting this type of product.

Our well-being program provides the beneficiaries with what we call “phygital” (physical & digital) access to workshops such as meditation, good sleep, nutrition and a balanced lifestyle. A lot of these workshops increase user experience. And that user experience translates into greater profits both for us and for our insurance underwriters.”

What is the role of technology and data in these programs?

“The technology that we use does two things. Number one, it enables us to do early identification of epidemics. For example, if there’s an outbreak of the dengue virus in a specific community, that outbreak can be identified in real-time and we can manage those potential epidemics in real-time. The other thing we do with technology is that we aggregate large volumes of data from our group health plan members. We then anonymize, analyse and visualize this data, and we share this data with both our corporate clients, again in an anonymized group fashion. And we also share it with our underwriters. What this enables us all to do is to improve the accuracy of AI-enabled analytic models, and predictive analytic models, which again result in enhanced profitability.

We’re also committed to the personalisation of healthcare; we have seen that this creates much value. We provide our beneficiaries with unlimited access to primary care physicians. We encourage them to call, video call, WhatsApp, and text their physicians anytime between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., six days a week. This engenders trust, and trust leads to customer retention, and customer retention leads to lower health risks. Lower health risks lead to lower financial risks, leading to increased profitability.”

Can you tell us about your expansion plans?

“We’re going to launch what we call a South Asian diaspora engagement program. In that program, South Asians living in Western Europe will be able to enrol their seniors, parents, relatives, and family members on a very high-end concierge health program that is delivered in South Asia. So, the financing is done in Europe, in one continent, and high-quality service is delivered in another continent, in this case, South Asia.

Initially, we’re going to target three populations. The first are those seniors who reside permanently in South Asia, with family living in Western Europe. The second are those that are transiently living in South Asia. These are people who come back and forth between Western Europe and South Asia. Finally, the third category is those seniors who are stuck on waiting lists for elective procedures, oftentimes in the public health systems in for example Europe. We enable them to go to South Asia and have affordable early intervention procedures.”

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