Interview

‘Veracity of data matters in healthcare’

Sidd

Siddhartha Goyal, CEO and Co-Founder, Nivi, a digital health start-up, in a conversation with Prathiba Raju, Assistant Editor, eHealth, reveals that empowering consumers with reliable and trustworthy information is important.

Amidst the economic meltdown caused by the COVID-19, many startups have been forced to shut businesses. How are you tiding over the crisis? Do you think you have more opportunities emerging in this crisis? If yes, how?

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for digital health platforms now more than ever, particularly platforms that can be trusted to provide a safe space and connect users with reliable health information, providers, and services. As a result of this, there has been a large call and response in the digital health market to address this need. For Nivi, this was an opportunity to expand its platform to incorporate COVID-19 information and increase resources for users that can help them through their health journeys – ensuring that they have access to the information they need. With this growth and new market opportunities, we have expanded beyond India and Kenya to work with South Africa in combating misinformation and disinformation around COVID-19 and to provide education and information in engaging ways for users.

Why is accurate health information crucial and how does Nivi help in enhancing access to trusted health information?

Disease outbreaks are as much a social phenomenon as a biological one. Rumour, innuendo and public sentiment drive disease transmission dynamics. COVID-19 is no different. As stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), this pandemic has spawned an “infodemic” of misinformation and disinformation.

In a time when people have access to so much information on the Internet, it becomes overwhelming and difficult to distinguish between truth and misinformation. This is why it is important to have a reliable and trustworthy source, particularly one that is easily accessible and presents information in an understandable way. Nivi provides users with accurate information and services right to their phones, which helps to decrease their dependency on search engines or reading misinformation and disinformation posted by unqualified people across various social media networks.

Also read: ‘India will be the first country to have comprehensive Digital Health Accreditation standards before 2020 ends’

How innovative is Nivi in turning data into an insights industry? How well- equipped are you in doing this? How can the government, private organisations and the non-profit sectors benefit from Nivi’s insight generating model?

Nivi focuses on using the insights to make health systems work for the people they are trying to serve to promote self-care. We accomplish this by using insights from our users for our users; we work with providers, along with what users state they need and want. This includes finding products and services which are most appropriate for specific audiences. At the same time, we also ensure that we are providing users with high-quality service and information by analysing consumer feedback. Through the use of real-time data analytics, we assess health product and services demand patterns to help create efficient supply chains and sustainable financing through health insurance schemes to meet the needs of different population segments. Nivi accomplishes this by making the data a first-class citizen, and we think about the data we collect when we are designing our consumer experiences.

So to put it simply – equipped with deep market and consumer insights, the government, the private sector and NGOs are able to better plan, execute, and evaluate the work they do to provide health information, products, and services. Further, it enhances their ability to influence behavior through conversations, people-centric campaigns and nudges designed to catalyze action.

Post-COVID pandemic, how do you think you can accelerate the momentum of growth?

Nivi’s mission has always been to help people make informed health decisions along their health journey, prior to and during COVID-19. This will continue to be our mission after the pandemic. Empowering consumers with the information that they need in order to be in control of their health decisions is vitally important. So many individuals do not have access to reliable and trustworthy information and Nivi aims to close this gap. The importance of combating misinformation and disinformation has become abundantly clear during this pandemic and people will only continue to seek out new methods of obtaining reliable information easily.

Tell us about your funding activity and how do you see the post-pandemic scope for startups’ future in the healthcare sector?

Currently, our primary investor is MSD for Mothers, globally. We have also received investments from Grand Challenges Canada to grow our product and presence in Kenya. In addition, we are working with a venture services fund, Jeavio, to build our technology platform. As for the scope of startups, post pandemic, the future looks promising, particularly for digital health. The need is now more visible than ever, and going forward, people will need greater access to health information and services in a more accessible and digital way. Healthcare sector will attract more funding and investment as the demand continues to grow.

How do you see the Atma Nirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge by the government, do you think it will enhance the startup healthcare segment? If yes, how?

We feel the challenge is a good opportunity to ideate, incubate, build, nurture and sustain tech solutions that can serve not only citizens within India, but also around the world. In particular to the healthcare and wellness sector, this challenge will enable entrepreneurs to consciously contribute and share solutions to fill the current lacunas in the existing Indian healthcare system. These app-enabled solutions can further initiate the much-needed dialogue on health technology, especially towards last-mile delivery of healthcare services and optimise the benefits of these existing solutions. Through this challenge, we can assume that the future looks promising for health-tech solutions providing the populace at large to access affordable and quality healthcare.

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