Varun Sheth, Health News, ET HealthWorld

In an interaction with ETHealthworld, Varun Sheth, CEO and Co-Founder of Ketto.org, talks about the growth of medical crowdfunding and how internet penetration will further help make healthcare accessible.

Do you think medical crowdfunding has become a boon as healthcare continues to be largely a personal expense in India. What challenges do patients face before resorting to medical crowdfunding platforms?
Varun We are a country of 1.3 billion inhabitants, but our health expenditure represents only 1.28% of the GDP. Although we have promising health programs, there is insufficient coverage to treat serious illnesses such as cancer or transplants which cost up to Rs. 25 lakhs. In addition, programs are limited to poor and disadvantaged families, so middle-class families continue to struggle with the cost of medical treatment. Therefore, medical crowdfunding has become a boon for people who cannot afford to afford and access timely and quality health care.

It is estimated that 80 percent of the Indian population is without any form of health insurance and 63 percent of all emergency medical expenses are personal expenses, most families drain all their savings, sell their assets, borrow money. money at high rates to fund their medical bills. The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) study shows that more than 55 million Indians are pushed into poverty each year due to the costs of patient care.

An underinsured population, an inadequate public health system and expensive private medical facilities are the main phenomenon leading to the affordability and accessibility of health care.

During the COVID pandemic, by how much has the monthly average of medical campaigns started on Ketto increased? Could you list the common medical conditions that required financial assistance for treatment?
During the pandemic, especially the second wave, we saw an increase in medical fundraising. Since May 2021 (six months), we have organized over 15,000 medical fundraisers and raised over Rs. 200 crore. The main cause of these campaigns was to raise funds for COVID hospitalization, lung damage due to covid, black fungi, yellow fungi as well as other critical medical treatments such as cancer, BMT and transplants.

What strategy do you follow to make fundraising easier and more timely for families in need of financial assistance for medical treatment?
Most people who try to fundraise online for a nonprofit cause, like urgent medical intervention for a family member, have a common weakness. They are not very strong digital marketers at a personal skill level. A significant portion of the population that aims to fundraise online through platforms is sorely lacking in strong digital skills, such as audience segmentation, dedicated outreach strategies, and knowledge of cross-platform promotion. As a direct result of this weakness, if they are left to configure or optimize their crowdfunding campaign manually, they will never end up meeting their minimum goals. They would eventually withdraw from any attempt to take their issues online. This was a common problem in the early days of crowdfunding.

In the case of a medical ad campaign, we use full AI engines that kick in whenever a smart crowdfunding campaign is launched, have the ability to map the value / returns / conversions generated by serving to various other platforms (such as Google AdSense, YouTube, Facebook Ads, or even organic categorical posting inside the platform). It compares their performance against each other to then identify and implement the best possible promotional strategy for those campaigns. Therefore, the fundraiser may invest more time in caring for their patient rather than worrying about funds.

An increasing number of users have exceeded their crowdfunding goals well ahead of their deadlines due to the use of AI-based crowdfunding outreach strategies. The available data reveal a common sentiment; AI-based scans have proven to be increasingly effective when mapped proportionally to the level of criticality in each case.

The biggest beneficiaries of the smart awareness system are those who were trying to fundraise for the most serious diseases. These patients range from leukemia patients who need a bone marrow transplant to people requiring high-precision organ transplants.

Additionally, we also provide private fundraising features for our activists as many activists are unwilling to share their campaign publicly due to social stigma or privacy concerns. These fundraisers are password protected and only people with the password can view fundraising details and donate to the campaign.

How do you see the crowdfunding market evolving in the years to come?
The global crowdfunding market is evolving rapidly, it is expected to grow by USD 196.36 billion during the period 2021-2025, with a CAGR of over 15%. With Asia being the main engine of growth, we have seen enormous potential for crowdfunding in India. With increased internet penetration, an increase in the use of online payments and the ease of digital transactions, the crowdfunding industry is experiencing significant growth in the country.

We run over 2,000 medical fundraisers per month and have experienced 50% CAGR growth over the past five years. Additionally, over the past three years our donor base has grown to 1,000 percent who wish to support medical fundraising.
As an organization we believe in, crowdfunding in India is changing rapidly. We have seen great acceptance in the metro and urban cities. We have noticed that children as young as 15 want to fundraise to make a difference in someone’s life.

Crowdfunding today is not just a platform to raise money for a cause, but it is a force for good. It is a way for people to come together as a community, it gives people the opportunity to do good for others and build a safe and healthy community.

Having said that, we have a long way to go, we see great potential in Tier II and III cities. However, there is a need to raise awareness of the concept of cause-based crowdfunding. We are broadening our footing on the ground, aiming to reach more and more towns and villages, partnering with hospitals and NGOs to educate the masses on cause-based crowdfunding.

Will LA, Internet access and social media platforms, among others, be the main engines of growth?
As more and more people have learned about digital infrastructure, the idea of ​​“donating” to a cause via the Internet has gained ground. Another benefit, the focus on emerging and scalable AI technologies has also enabled digital crowdfunding to transform the targeted awareness and high conversion space.


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