Nrip Nihalani - I Want to Make Healthcare More Holistic, Error-Free, and Open (Director - Product Management and International Marketing Plus91 Technologies Pvt Ltd )

Director - Product Management and International Marketing
Plus91 Technologies Pvt Ltd

Instagram - @nrip79

1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I came from a military family and grew up across India. I saw the dot com bubble burst the year I graduated engineering, and that experience taught me a lot about understanding myself, my needs, and being grounded. 

My experience in Sweden as a graduate student and working there impacted me a lot, it made me question life in a very fluid and open way and always be interested in creating a better future for everyone. My beliefs in coupling innovation with reality and being open-minded stem from those experiences.

Following that, in 2006, I along with a couple of my friend's setup Plus91, at a time when start ups were supposedly made by those guys who didn’t get jobs. Our parents and a lot of friends thought we were stupid to be quitting our high-paying jobs to live and work out of rented apartments. 

Over these 14 years, I have understood why they felt the way they did, and also during these years, they have understood why we setup Plus91 instead of staying on at our jobs.

My entrepreneurial journey has been a crazy rollercoaster ride. We have seen so many downs and ups, trends come and go, competitors being raised which have shut down out over the years. And yet we have stayed our course, prevailed, survived, however one sees it. 

We have been a part of creating Digital Health from a concept to an entire industry. From a time when I had to spend hours explaining to doctors about the importance of digital records settling at giving them a website to start them off with using a computer, to a time when we’re making govts and health missions understand the value of surveilling symptoms as well as conditions to predict the possibility of a disease outbreak, it has been a fulfilling journey, albeit an exhausting one. 

And then Covid happened, and everyone just started taking whatever we say and do a lot more seriously. Let’s see how easily we can build the future now.

2. Despite so much talent in India, why do people look abroad for treatment?

Due to their lack of trust in Indian Hospitals. Be it public or private, and in whatever financial range one is looking for, India does possess quality care facilities. 

However when offered a choice, many Indians, are open to looking abroad and choosing care abroad if they find it within their price range, as a number of them still find it hard to trust the facilities in India, be it because of their lack of faith in their abilities/skill, or their worry of being taken for a ride. 

On the skill side, our doctors are up there with the best in the world, but on the trustworthiness scale, both doctors and hospital administrators have a lot of covering up to do.

3. The healthcare landscape is changing due to COVID-19. What is one change that has impacted how you work?

There is a seriousness, almost an urgent kind, amongst the healthcare ecosystem to adopt digital technologies more openly as compared to the pre - covid era. Since we have always been talking about the importance of taking healthcare digital, this acceptance of digital technologies has impacted us tremendously and favourably.

Our Digital Health Systems have always been a few years too soon for the market, and Covid just fast-forwarded the world to use us right away.

4. What is your take on virtual methods of providing treatment?

All virtual treatment methods, whether it is TeleHealth, Remote Monitoring, Tele Pathology are very much a necessity. Covid has simply brought them into the limelight and forced the world to adopt them quickly.

I believe they all benefit healthcare immensely, and thus should be adopted wholeheartedly by doctors and patients. They end up offering a wider variety of options for both and allow a far richer treatment mindset to get created in the coming years. 

Doctors benefit from being accessible to patients from across the globe more easily and frequently for both offering care as well as 2nd/3rd opinions. This helps them acquire experience on a wider range of patients besides the ones that come to them purely due to geographical viability. 

Patients benefit a lot as they can access doctors more easily, and also get doctors who may be in a different part of the world from them who are experts at dealing with a specific condition without having to bear the cost of travel.

5. Have you had to utilize technology that you have never used before during this healthcare crisis? What challenges did it present for you?

About utilizing technology which we had not used before, No, We didn’t have to use anything new. We were always using the technologies which most of the world adopted during the Covid pandemic for years before it. 

At Plus91, we have been used to working with one or the other of our staff remotely, as many including myself travel across the globe to understand and implement health systems in different parts of the world and our core technology team is always in India.

On the 2nd part of your question, yes we did face challenges due to the whole world using technologies new to them. The challenges that were presented were because now we were using these technologies to train a lot more people on the ground across the world than before. 

All the train the trainer models and hands-on workshops had to stop and we had to offer round the clock training and remotely support not just our customers but also their users as well as patients, many of who weren’t very comfortable with technology. 

So many of us were teaching our customers and their customers crash courses in writing emails, using Zoom/Skype/Meet, Keeping their images safe from hackers, and what, not. All this while helping them get screened, treated, and monitored.

6. Which is your favourite book and why?

Difficult to name one, but the books I like a lot and have read multiple times are the Mahabharat, The Northern Lights trilogy by Phillip Pullman, Resurrection by Tolstoy, and 1984 by George Orwell.

These books spark different parts of me, they speak to my inner beliefs very deeply and help me stay grounded.

7. What impact do you want to create in the medical field?

I want to make healthcare more holistic, error-free, and open. I believe in the distant future we will be able to address the whole issue of disease and mankind will be completely focused on health from the wellness perspective rather than a treatment perspective. And I want to be an integral part of that change.

- Interviewed by - Sanjana Jain

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