Human Capital in the Health Care Industry


While interacting with students at the SIES College of Management in Mumbai recently, I was faced with interesting questions. There were many questions on the health policy of the Govt. of India or the lack of it. One question intrigued me. It came from a smart young student who wanted to know what that one thing was which could change the future of the industry as we know it. I told him that I thought there were three things – not one – that would play a pivotal role in bringing change, a) large scale technology adoption which I thought would drive down costs over the medium term b) creating and providing access to information which would help people make informed choices and c) participatory medicine where people would collaborate with health care providers to “create” treatment regimen that they are most like to comply to.

The student wasn’t satisfied with the answer and egged me on about what that one thing was that could herald in the desperately needed change in a tired old, risk-averse, over-regulated industry? The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced. Smart people will make the difference.  

What we see now is that executives are reluctant to approach a rapidly changing health care environment – both globally and locally – in a new manner. Instead of developing rapid strategic responses that focus on how to pre-empt and leverage the change most senior executives prefer to debate what seems inevitable.

As the industry is jolted out of its complacence and one sees lines rapidly blur between companies, health professionals and consumers, strategy seems firmly back on the agenda. Companies that don’t have one or stumble into something by accident will rapidly get replaced by ones of various sizes that do not fear to tread the unknown. While this seems rhetorical, the rapid increase in the number of start-ups in health care seem to vindicate this. Young entrepreneurs have told me that they face no dearth of resources and funding. This is fascinating! What is more interesting is that very few start-ups (in health services, I am not familiar with biotech and other manufacturers) were conceptualized by people with experience in the industry!

This, along with the rapid entry of non-health players (Google, Microsoft, Pepsico, Britannia, P&G and Nestle, to name a few) into this lucrative sector signals to me the stale nature of human capital that the industry nurtures. Fresh thinking, new ideas and perspectives on how to create value for human life seems lost and is much needed. Start-ups probably do not burden young entrepreneurs with focusing on profit and the short term. Fresh and smart young people bring with them newer ways of addressing tired old problems. And that is what health care needs desperately. 

9 thoughts on “Human Capital in the Health Care Industry

  1. Sir, I am sure that u will agree that smart people are most likely the ONLY SINGLE thing that can transform the industry but the question remains,
    How does pharma attract and retain talent? Are they willing to?


    1. Pharma must attract and retain talent just like any other sector does. The industry does quite a lot in areas where competitive advantage was traditionally built such as R&D. This is not much true now and thats partly the change which CEOs are yet to accept. We hope realization dawns quickly.


  2. You have considered three most important things to bring in change.
    What is your take on Govt role in shaping up the future of healthcare n the role of industry in influencing the same? I think we are not only in regulated market but most confused lot in terms of policy making. we dont have control on offering access by distribution by product or by facilities of healthcare or health spends. Will appreciate if you can discuss what would have the traditional ppl (pharma indust) to break the shackle n get into different model to create vibration on healthcare.


    1. I firmly believe people like u can bring in a change in d way we do business today comparing to any other industries where we creeb about myopic approach approach and get trapped in it. I completely agree only people withou fear can bring in a change, hence expectation is high Salil from you. C u soon in your next blog.


  3. Salil…

    one another very important thing that is lacking is a long term serious intent. Every organization or policy making institution is looking at short term gains… no body has the patience to sit down and let the tree grow and bear fruits. Innovations in pharma industry cannot be similar to technology innovators like Google or FB which are adopted rather fast and people can see the adoption level and results immediately.

    A marketing strategy, when executed will have to be tailored even during its course to allow it to meander through… I dont think our executives and policy makers have that kind of foresight or intent.


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