Dr. Subhasish Sircar | Health Vectors
A passionate proponent of data-driven healthcare, Dr. Subhasish Sircar, Founder and CEO of Health Vectors envisions a plethora of dynamic technology platforms to make sense out of enormous health records
The fact that a large number of people in India die due to non-communicable chronic disease pains Dr Subhasish Sircar who feels that it is clearly avoidable. The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bengaluru based health analytics startup, Health Vectors has the vision to convert world into a place where NCDs are eradicated, just like the way Small Pox, Polio, and other disease have been.
“The process of avoiding NCDs should be a no-brainer. Ironically, people in their 30-40s are more prone to such loss of life and so I really want to make a difference and find a way to solve the problem,” Subhasish outlines his vision.
Having taken 7+ years to build, Health Vectors Analytics Engine is a system that contains a set of rules in a way similar to how doctors think. It is like a clinical decision support system, except that it is in the wellness space. Conservatively speaking, the engine has more than 250K rules and is capable of analyzing 300+ parameters simultaneously as a part of holistic health. As of today, Health Vectors has analyzed the health data of 400,000+ individuals both in India and abroad and has sold 100,000+ Smart Reports.
“It performs 70K+ calculations and 10K+ decisions each time the engine receives an individual's clinical and personal health data and creates a solution, be it Smart Reports, Insights, or Health Cibil in less than a few seconds. This is the unique selling point,” mentions Subhasish who has designed many new materials and processes and been instrumental in authoring 25+ international patents. About 25 percent of these patents are now in commercial use worldwide for various applications.
Subhasish has worked with top-notch companies globally. Having designed new materials for space vehicles and structures at Lockheed Engineering & Sciences Company for NASA, he worked for Reynolds Metals Company – since acquired by Alcoa, where he designed many new materials for automotive and aerospace applications. At GE’s R&D center in Schenectady, NY, he was instrumental in running key government-funded programs in various verticals like healthcare, aerospace among others.
A life incident happened pushed Subhasish to quit his 30 years of life in the United States and move to India and start the company. When his close friend, Sauptik who was just 32 years old passed away suddenly due to cardiovascular (CVD) complications, Subhasish left the United States to come to India and find out for himself what took Sauptik’s life. He spoke to doctors whom Sauptik had consulted when he got a preventive health check done just a few months back. He concluded that while doctors knew that he had some risk factors for CVD, they however did not quantify the risk as they did not understand the severity of the risk nor did they devise or advise a clear path for reduction of this risk.
“This incident changed my life forever. I realized that there were enough knowledge and information in this field that could be harnessed to help doctors and individuals quantify the risks and create a simple but fool-proof risk reduction pathway. I vowed to make a difference in this space and help avoid a similar fate for others. That was the genesis of Health Vectors,” a nostalgic Subhasish says.
In his earlier days, Subhasish who was born and brought up in small towns in West Bengal, India moved to Kolkata when he was just 7 years old. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering, he went on to complete his Masters and Ph.D. from Michigan State University and Post-Doctoral Research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Subsequently, he received his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Business School in Philadelphia.
Health data is complex as people find it hard to understand and take charge of their health. The goal is to make it simple and easy to understand so that people engage with their health. For health insurance companies, the process of underwriting, discounting and loading of premiums, STP vs. NSTP process decisions, etc. is fraught with subjectivity and personal biases. In keeping with the complexities, Health Vectors has used the past, present, and future health of an individual to create a Health Cibil score. It helps in automating the claims underwriting process and takes subjectivity out of the process.
Health Vectors is intent on taking the complexity out of health data. Organizations like diagnostic labs and hospitals have health data of patients, but they don’t routinely derive business value from the health insights available in personal health data. Therefore, Health Vectors is helping organizations become the stakeholders in the health of individuals by aiding data-based decision making in near real-time. This in turn helps organizations use precision marketing to increase their top and bottom line.
Since the area he wanted to work on was relatively new, Subhasish initially found it difficult to sell his idea to doctors and angel investors. In fact, there were some doctors who asked him to leave their offices because he was wasting their time and they felt that bringing in mathematics, statistics, and data science in the field of wellness and medicine would be futile. “Bringing precision to the field of predictive medicine, which is not an exacting science, was not something that many believed in,” he recalls.
Being an extremely price-sensitive market, one big challenge for him in India was to find a way to achieve revenue numbers without price discounting and commoditizing the Health Vectors’ solution. Again, the solution was not to rush into gaining market share but to focus on creating a fabulous product and creating a fantastic brand that people would like to pay more, especially when it involves their health.
During the journey, many of the company’s customers have come forward to help it make the product better via constructive criticism and enhancement ideas. Many erudite, experienced campaigners with significant connections have come forward and become a part of its advisory board. Subhasish credits their active involvement and shepherding to achievements and product improvements. “End users have also given us feedback and ideas to improve our product. They have also given us ideas on ways to grow the company. We have a very keen ear, close to the ground.”
“Being a B2B2C business, the company has solutions for the end-users, our customers are the organizations - like diagnostic labs, hospitals, insurance companies, etc. Inherently, we are therefore forced to run at the speed at which a business adopts our solutions. Ideally, the solution that we have would be very well suited for a B2C user. However, that would mean a significant amount of marketing expense to bring the customer to us. In keeping with the scenario, are moving forward slowly in the direct B2C space,” Subhasish adds.
The company has also planned a hybrid solution where a combination of a B2B2C and a B2C solution will be incorporated to enhance its revenue growth rates.
Subhasish wants Health Vectors to be remembered as a company that truly changed the landscape of personal health globally. He wants it to continually contribute significantly to helping eradicate NCDs from the face of the earth. He is very hopeful that Health Vectors will create a true legacy in the creation of Health Cibil which then becomes the gold standard of how underwriting is automated and made less subjective around the world.
“More than anything, it would be a huge win, if Health Vectors becomes a shining global brand that is known for its quality of work, the authenticity of the domain knowledge, and as a company that truly cared about ways to improve the health of an individual,” he adds.
As per Subhasish, the products from Health Vectors have now gone through the scrutiny of 75+ doctors globally. He explains, “The fact that top institutions in India and abroad have become our paying customers is our USP. Paying end users like our solutions a lot. They have given our Smart Reports a NPS rating of 57 and 90 percent of our paid users give us a 4*/5* rating. In short, medically accurate, reliable, fast, doctors’ trusted and the customer liked, is what makes it a game-changer. Soon, our solutions will become the gold standard and will be the way by which lab tests will be reported and what people will follow to maintain or improve their health.”
Subhasish advises aspiring startups to practice patience. “Nothing of long-lasting value can be created overnight. Be patient, avoid short cuts,” he says. “Laser-sharp focus with minimal distraction is the key to success – Avoid distractions at all cost. Employee attitude is more important than employee talent – Hire extremely carefully. Control your spending, cash is king – Stay afloat for as long as possible – Tailwinds will come Product-Market Fit is the key – Be relentless until you are sure you have this.”
His million-dollar mantra on sales: “Customer champions will help drive your success – Just a few are enough but find them. Succeeding with Minimally Viable Product (MVP) is a difficult art – Master the art, be skilled at it.”
“If you can get into a habit of proactively monitoring your health and some important parameters, instead of waiting for diseases to happen – you can avoid many future health complications,” mentions Subhasish who also reveals that the company is in process of building a wellness App called HealthVu that aims to be a wellness partner and proactively help people to be in top shape consistently.
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