Satish Malnaik is an entrepreneurial enthusiast and CEO and co-founder at NextServices
, a company that enables seamless healthcare delivery by providing an innovative platform blended together with technology, analytics and knowledge based services. His interest is fueled by creative influences and the urge to solve problems, especially those that are ubiquitous in the environment around us. It was only a matter of time before he got involved with healthcare, given both its national footprint and the fact that it still touches each individual on a personal level. It isn't just about technology or solutions, but about building up to creating something to change the day and world.
His foray into business process reengineering, business analytics, and software systems eventually led to the laying of the foundation at NextServices with two fellow MBA colleagues. Prior to NextServices, Satish devoted a few years to independent consulting for E-business technology initiatives at clients such as Medstat/ Thomson Healthcare (Thomson-Reuters) and KPMG Consulting (BearingPoint).
Satish received his MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He also holds a master's degree in engineering from the University of Toledo. He is an engineering graduate of The University of Mumbai, India. Since his college days he has tinkered around with computers (extra credit for those who remember 5 ¼ inch floppy disks) en route to his post graduate diploma in computer science from the Indo German Training Centre (IGTC).
Satish will be writing about thoughts that make him ponder, the entrepreneurial world and the changing landscape of the delivery of healthcare.
In the recent decades, caring for our health has become almost entirely reactionary. Other than the health conscious minority, you really don't think about it much unless something goes wrong. This is surprising behavior because on average, we are quite good at getting the oil change in our cars done a lot more efficiently. So what drives one to be so attentive to the car versus one's own body and health? The obvious answer that comes to mind is that you don't want your car dying on you, or to incur significant repair costs or not having a car for a few days. But the same would be true for your health, yet it's treated differently. Perhaps it may be because it's more work one has to put into it or maybe it is easier to not worry about it the other way around. If one doesn't make the effort to take care of their physical health akin to oil changes or maintenance for our cars, damage is likely, especially long term and detrimental.
Both the automotive and the healthcare industry are trying to move into a new era of what they deliver to us, the consumers. The auto industry has a renewed focus on smaller cars, fuel efficiency, and most notably, battery powered green technology. Whether their intentions were driven by market demand or a true motivation to drive change in our daily lives is still debated. Favorably enough, federal and state financial incentives helped boost some of that innovation and made it a worthwhile direction to pursue.
A similar change is happening in the healthcare landscape. I am sure many of you are aware that perhaps one of the most spoken about agendas of the current administration is improving healthcare delivery and contain the ballooning cost of care. As someone knee-deep in the era of healthcare delivery changes permeating through to our lives, I frequently get asked about what I think this new world brings, and looks like in the end. Will it truly transform the healthcare system? What does the healthcare system really do for your health beyond all the hype? What will all the investment in technology and electronic medical records translate to for the common man or woman? There might be a connection, after all, if I had to put it in simple language.
One of the more noticeable changes expected as an outcome (or maybe just wishful thinking) is that the digital tools will become a catalyst for preventive care in addition to looking at the complete picture of one's health. Many of you may have noticed changes when you visit your primary care physician or a specialist doctor. Perhaps not as much in the way they practice medicine, but in terms of your experience as a patient in a practice or facility. One sees physicians and nurses walking around with less paper and tablet computers being used. The documentation of care is going digital and so is the ability of such systems to capture data and ensure that care can eventually move away from being reactionary to preventive. It's too early to say if consumers (patients like us), providers (physicians), facilities (hospitals, labs) and insurers will all play nice towards that single goal – providing coordinated care for your continuous well being.
The real benefit lies in what you and I do with access to such information, and also access when it is perhaps most important. I believe that the simple ability to monitor one's own health in shorter periods of time and to have it be a reminder to us will inculcate good habits geared towards better health. One would become more proactive, if for example, one were informed that their blood pressure is creeping up beyond that acceptable edge. Or for example, your BMI (body mass index) is moving away from what would be considered healthy. All kinds of gadgets and apps are being developed to both check vitals at home and also to provide you access to information from doctors, labs and hospitals. You can more or less get anything on your PDAs these days. Despite the fear of such information being transported on the internet, embracing such tools will make you aware of changes to your body sooner, not when it is too late.
Enabling such information outside the bounds of doctors' offices or the insurer will make a difference where it matters the most – your health. The next time your car is due for an oil change, schedule time for a quick self-check too.
Before I put forth and share my free flowing thoughts, I want to provide you a disclaimer to bear with the hopping around on elements within the blog. It all makes sense in the end, hopefully. After all, why deliver a predictable dialogue when you can meander and wander off the beaten path? If my post can make you think at the end of this blog post, I would have been happy to be a part of your day.
If I were to take an honest anonymous poll, I feel confident that most, if not all, would agree that we live in a very consumption driven society these days. The environment around us is constantly abuzz with an obsession with buying and selling. If we were to hypothetically stop buying non-essential goods altogether, except for what it takes to keep us functioning as individuals and as a society, the entire economy of the world could come to a grinding halt. So how did we end up this way? Was it always like this? Were our grandparents worse off not having every luxury, tool or gadget ever invented? I am not here to debate the merits that have come about from the many things we have invented to make our lives easier and fuller. What I would like to bring your attention to and provoke thought about is the necessity and the volume or rather the pace of consumption. If I were to just rattle off statistics, I could easily amaze you with what today's modern individual consumes in a defined period of time. We go through a lot.
The hazardous part is that we have also bought into the disposal way of living. Most things bought today are disposable with a short shelf life and not entirely recyclable. I can safely bet that each one of you has many a time encountered the need to want to fix a basic household tool or gadget, but it was simply easier and cheaper to buy a replacement than try to fix something. We do live in an instant gratification world, after all. I call it the "I want it now and I want it cheap" world. Besides, there is also the pressure of time and all the running around our lives are now programmed for which leaves no time for such deviations.
Just a few years back, I lived in a vastly different environment in the city of Mumbai (Bombay, India). That too during the days when modernization, western cultural influences, and heavy foreign investment had yet to hit the shores and the Internet itself was non-existent. I remember clearly how our available means defined our volume of consumption for everything needed in our lives. I regularly joke with my kids that all I had most of the time was rocks to play with. When I flash back to some of those memories, I clearly remembered how even the purchase of a single new appliance was a big deal. The decision itself could take months. Buying a new appliance would involve some pondering before saving and springing the cash for it. Yes, we lived in a world without credit cards. Not by choice, perhaps, but credit cards just didn't exist in that part of the world. You bought what you could save up and were sure beyond an iota of doubt that it was needed. Sure, there were the few that could afford the luxuries but for the most part, India as a country was populated by the middle class and the poor. The culture of limiting that non-essential consumption and the cost that went with it also created an ecosystem that supported maintaining such items. So we had this amazing network of shops and handymen of all colors and flavors that could fix anything and everything. Interestingly, they were also very good at makeshift solutions when a particular part was not available. The size of the problem didn't matter – whether it was a mixer grinder or a car.
Circling back to why I deviated into the past was that the environment above automatically created a world that had very little waste. The use of anything one owned was maxed to the limit with fixes to make it last much beyond its designed shelf life many times. Of course, the costs to fix things were relatively lower because the cost of labor was low and parts were indigenously put together sometimes. Broken items like appliances, furniture, toys, etc. rarely existed and whatever did also ended up being recycled, almost 100%, just as innovatively. There was no hard push to sell to consumers constantly.
But now the world in Mumbai, India, today is not far from what we have around us in the United States. Consumption has taken over and the private sector, mostly global companies, are doing what they love doing – feeding you with a need to buy more. And the only way public companies can sustain perpetual growth and satisfy stock market demands are to make things that don't have a long shelf life so that consumers can be repeat customers at a shorter frequency. Even the most current phenomenon, the use of social media, is of heavy interest to the private sector only because it is "the new channel" to sell more. Albeit not directly with an advertisement in a magazine or a billboard this time, but through your network of friends and family. Thus, the consumption monster was created: one that is never satisfied, and needs constant feeding. Our ecosystem unfortunately does not support making consumables that can be fixed easily to prolong their lives. What we miss as a society is the bigger picture. Less consumption leads to lower waste, fewer materials to recycle, and a culture of reuse.
We are now stuck in a vicious cycle, one that is hard to get out of unless the consumer takes charge and creates a movement that causes a dramatic shift to how we choose to perceive reuse vs. recycle. Recycling has picked up some steam but is far from where it could really be. Appearing too 'green' to your friends also has its side effects, depending on where you live. According to a 2011 study by OgilvyEarth, only 18% of the respondents thought going green is masculine. The other 82% associated it with being more feminine, which would automatically either dissuade the average male from taking reuse seriously or perhaps just not openly admitting to it.
When my coffee grinder/maker fried from a power surge, I couldn't find a replacement part even if I wanted to. When the labor cost to fix a small component of an appliance (with or without shipping costs) is 30 times that of the part, something is wrong. One could probably recollect quite a few gadgets and appliances that went into the trash bin just because repair costs exceed purchase costs, or simply because repairing is not even an option. Let me rattle off some that many of you probably retired into the graveyard: iron (press), microwaves, coffee makers, DVD players, Wi-Fi equipment, electric razors, etc. If you take a few of these and multiply them by the number that use them, I think we are talking a serious volume of trash.
I can perhaps go on for quite a bit more to build my case for a debate on reuse, but I feel that my comments so far probably get the point across. What we as individuals need to realize is that just like the housing market, our constantly increasing consumption can continue to ride on the way it is. We have to go back to learning to live with things purposefully and automatically force the business and manufacturing world to start making products that have a longer shelf life and that are not designed with a use-and-throw mentality. It may not be your problem today, but it sure will be tomorrow.