Rethinking Healthcare Marketing: Alekhya Bolla, Curofy

Guest Column: The time has come for the healthcare industry to re-tool their marketing efforts

Alekhya Bolla 1 week ago

alekhya bolla

As we all sail in the same boat named healthcare, doctors are the most important audience in our industry. We focus on niche markets and therapeutic areas, which makes us very difficult to connect to the perfect audience.

For more than a decade, the Indian healthcare industry is continually undergoing the transformation phase. There is widespread scepticism about the intent of the industry and concern for the vulnerability of doctors in the relationship. Unfortunately, the debate on how to move this relationship forward has become polarized: industry argues that collaboration with physicians is essential to scientific advancement, but at the same time many doctors are pledging to cut all their ties with the healthcare industry, which brings our business to a crossroad of sorts.

Traditionally, the healthcare companies used to connect with doctors through sales representatives. But, now there are so many new laws and regulations that are emerging in many states, and the sales representative needs to be familiar with the laws and regulations in each state. Hence, it is been observed that the traditional way of marketing through sales representatives is fading away and the time has come for the healthcare industry to re-tool their marketing efforts.

Although, Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow doctors to organize personal and professional online communities for collaboration, there is always a gap between the medical fraternity and these so-called Social networks, as they are not able to deliver on the needs of the doctors at the right time. And time, as you know, is indispensable for every doctor.

So, the hospitals and healthcare systems are trying to adopt a completely new model of healthcare marketing, so as to emulate other disruptive businesses. These new models are backed by technological advancements and are being professionally customized for doctors by innovative health tech start-ups. The technology is streamlining the healthcare processes and addressing the conventional challenges. From storing patients’ records on cloud to bringing new applications to widen the reach to challenging communities, healthcare sector is revolutionizing.


Characterised as ‘The third wave’ by Alvin Toffler, a writer, futurist, and businessman said, the internet technology has the potential to change the way of man and society beyond the wildest of imagination.


Undoubtedly, technology is contributing immensely to transform Indian healthcare sector. The rise in the rate of technology adoption is creating a huge opportunity in the sector to make healthcare needs affordable and accessible in Tier – II & III cities.  The new technologies have helped the healthcare industries to look beyond the metros of India and explore the untapped market, breaking the geographical bias.


According to the estimates, the Indian Healthcare market in India is expected to grow from USD 100 billion in 2016 to USD 280 billion by 2020. Today, the healthcare sector is not what it used to be in terms of reach and improved treatments. Additionally, the boost in the Indian startup ecosystem operating in the health-tech space is creating more opportunities and hence redefining how the healthcare industry works.

With the surge in serious lifestyle diseases and rising population, the burden of simplifying healthcare processes is increasing on healthcare institutions, hospitals, organizations and government. Therefore, they are looking to adopt innovative ways to manage the Healthcare setting effectively. Technology is streamlining the healthcare processes and addressing the conventional challenges. From storing patients’ records on cloud to bringing new applications to widen the reach to challenging communities, healthcare sector is slowly but sure facing the winds of change.

An increasing number of start-ups are using technology in different ways to create holistic platforms to the doctors and healthcare professionals which bridges the gap in the healthcare system by providing the medical fraternity with an equal footing. Whether it is about the improved care delivery or expansion of multi-specialties, these new technologies in healthcare is taking the industry higher.


A few stalwarts in the digital space like medscape, WebMD, etc have been knocking on the door for long now, Curofy is also one such startup, which not only is providing a coordinated care to patients by keeping doctors abreast of the latest medical advancements,  but also provides them access to all the stakeholders in the healthcare industry. With a sudden push towards digital frameworks, the time is certainly right for the healthcare industry to undergo its long overdue digital revolution.


(The author is Marketing Communications Expert, Curofy)


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of




Marketing Communications Expert, Curofy


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Storytelling is at the crux of human existence: Sumanto Chattopadhyay

Guest Column: Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Soho Square, on how stories set humans apart from other species

Sumanto Chattopadhyay 1 week ago

Sumanto C

Once upon a time… these words had a magical effect on me in childhood. The child may have grown up, but that sense of wonderment has not diminished. Those opening words continue to cast their spell on both the personal and professional avatars of me.

Storytelling has been – and will remain – at the heart of advertising. But storytelling is bigger than advertising. It is more fundamental than that. It is at the crux of human existence. That is why Jonathan Gotschall, the American scholar of literature and evolution, said that a better definition of our species is Homo Fictus, the ‘storytelling animal’. It is the characteristic that sets us apart from other species.

Take a typical day in your life: you wake up with the memory of a dream—which, of course, is a story. You plan out your day – using the virtual reality capability of your brain to create a story of how you want your day to pan out. Over breakfast, you check out Facebook—where people tell idealised stories about themselves: the fabulous vacations they are on, the trendy restaurants they are eating at, the shiny awards they won. A friend may have shared a fascinating short film by your favourite European director – you end up watching this story and get late for work as a result. You make up an excuse about traffic to tell your boss – this too is a story. And then, if you work in advertising, you write stories—scripts for online videos, TV commercials, radio spots—all day for a living. 

Just as you are about to leave for home in the evening, your client calls and asks for a new ad to be presented to him the next morning. You think of all sorts of things you want to do to him – a revenge story. As you eventually drive home after your exhausting day, you daydream about a vacation in Hawaii – a feel-good story. After dinner, you read a few pages of a novel, the good old paperback kind of storybook, and drift off to sleep. But while your conscious mind slumbers, your unconscious mind stays up all night, dreaming – telling you stories that symbolically interpret all that happened to you during the day.

Thus, 24/7, the human animal lives in a storm of stories.

So, when I am asked if advertising as we knew it is dead or dying, I say no: it is alive and fundamentally the same; because it is about telling compelling stories to connect with the consumer – and receiving and understanding information that way is hardwired into our DNA. This cannot change unless a drastic mutation alters humans completely. Yes, the medium through which you tell the brand or product story keeps changing. But each such change does not herald the end of advertising as we know it. Nor does it usher in the end of creativity – a bleak new world where only technology matters. Such pronouncements have been made every time a new medium has come along – from hoardings to newspapers to radio to TV to the worldwide web. But the false prophets should have realised that the medium, in these cases, is not the message.

In 1972, David Ogilvy released a print ad promoting his company. Its headline was ‘How to create advertising that sells’. It listed 38 techniques for advertising successfully. It ended by tantalising the potential client – to come to Ogilvy & Mather Advertising to get the complete list of methods for creating winning ads; a cliffhanger of a story if I ever read one. Many may look at this ‘outdated’ ad and say that advertising is, and has to be, completely different today. But is it? See the so-called listicles being run as native advertising by many brands in recent times: Intel ran a listicle on BuzzFeed, for example; its headline, ‘15 things we did at school that future students will never understand.’ One of the examples was writing on a blackboard with old-fashioned chalk. It was a great piece of content that tapped into nostalgia, cleverly reminding the reader of the company’s products. Another listicle on the same website was for Mini USA. ‘Places that look not normal, but are actually real,’ it read. It was a series of pictures of real places that looked, well, unreal. The brand signed off by tipping its hat to those who see things differently. It was an ingeniously simple and successful promoted post, a significant piece in the brand’s larger ‘not normal’ campaign.

Scholars consider lists to be the most ‘primitive’ form of storytelling. Cave paintings of animals were Paleolithic Man’s way of visually listing out the most important things in its world – animals that it had to protect itself from to survive and animals it had to hunt and eat, also to survive. When a child draws a picture with stick figures of himself, his siblings, parents and pet, standing in the garden in front of his house with the sun in the sky above – he is creating a visual list of the world as he knows it. Mini USA’s listicle too is a visual list, one that contains items from its brand world.

Lists, ancient and modern, hold sway over us, compelling us to pay attention to them. This is something that has not changed since the dawn of time, let alone the dawn of advertising – because it is a process hardwired into the most primitive part of our brains. Yet lists are just one form of story. Tales take on many different shapes, and each one possesses the inherent capacity to affect human beings—and therefore consumers—profoundly. Be they novels, movies and plays from the realm of entertainment or TV commercials, Twitter posts and Facebook carousels from the world of mass communication, it is the story element in them which gets us hooked – in a fundamental, biological way.

‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,’ said Maya Angelou. We realise our potential by expressing our innermost stories. Brands too realise their potential in a similar way. It is our job as advertising professionals to help them do this. To do justice to such a responsibility, we must adapt to changing times, mediums and technologies. But, at the same time, we should take care not to get caught up in their nuts and bolts – and to focus on being the storytellers that we were born to be.

(The author is Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Soho Square- The Ogilvy Group)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

Chairman & Chief Creative Officer Soho Square The Ogilvy Group


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Purani Jeans: Diverse solutions come by empowering every employee: Shavon Barua, PHD India

Guest Column: While reminiscing about the ‘good old days’, Barua, Chief Client Officer at PHD India, also sees the great potential of the present and future for the industry

Shavon Barua 1 week ago

Shavon Barua

Nostalgia has a funny way of making us feel happy, almost like a slightly faded but comfortable pair of jeans that one refuses to let go of. As we wander off in the snug world of fond memories, contrasts between the past and present tend to stand out in a stark and glaring manner. Every generation likes to eulogise the “good old days” and look disdainfully at the newer crop, lamenting about how times have changed. However, it is fair to say that the current landscape is really one of the toughest in the history of marketing communications. To remain relevant and worthy today, it is now the norm to reinvent oneself on a continual basis. Staying in a comfortable place is no longer an option.

I must say, there is one particular development that I’m extremely happy has come about since the “good old days” and that is the concept of gender equality. Just a few years back, if anyone mentioned the concepts of pay parity or the lack of gender balance in our industry, they were often labelled as uptight or even worse, let alone even addressing the notion of work-life balance!

When I joined the industry, there was a lot we did not question and merely accepted - all the jokes, the labels, the usual biases. I must admit, I luckily managed to get by unscathed, though I did flinch at the times I was called ‘’sweetie’’ or when I was told that ‘’businesses are for alpha males; you won’t be able to run one.” I am extremely grateful that, unlike many others, there was no other form of harassment that I had to endure.

The fact that these are serious concerns in today’s world and are being presented like open wounds on our industry is a great thing. Despite the communications industry having a particularly high level of women leaders, it’s high time that the ‘Boys Club’ mentality is challenged! And there is still plenty more room for improvement on this subject. While we now have forums that celebrate “women” and address the issue of gender parity, what exactly are we doing to ensure that we are moving from just having conversations to actually effecting change?

In my experience, it will take more than just forums and conversations to get the job done. Over the years, I have learned that there is a lack of a support system in many workplaces, and until women are made to feel empowered, these issues will prevail. Additionally, it is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace – ourselves included – to create this support system and sense of empowerment.

We need to create the infrastructure that allows each individual – going beyond just genders here – to contribute the very best of their capabilities. This means creating the environments that allow one to perform at their very best, rather than conventional norms, and ensuring every individual can flourish in their area of specialty.

We also must encourage ambition - the need to make money, learn more, climb the hierarchy, lead from the front and get the recognition we deserve. It’s OK to want it all, and equally OK to want the shoes, love the flowers and go home to help with the housework too. This does not need any sort of labelling. It needs acceptance.

It’s only through the empowerment of each and every individual that agencies can create the diverse set of solutions clients require in order to remain relevant in today’s consumer landscape. Therefore, I urge all of my colleagues and peers to let go of that ‘old pair of jeans’ and try on a fresh new pair, feeling every bit confident that the future will be brighter, full of diversity, and more inclusive for us all.

(The author is Chief Client Officer – PHD, India)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of


Chief Client Officer - India PHD


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