Selling Water, Health Care in the Developing World

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In rural India, deep in Punjab – about 90 minutes from the Pakistani border – getting clean drinking water is a challenge. Well water often has high levels of dangerous chemicals. Surface water is contaminated with pesticides and agricultural waste.

Getting adequate health care is equally challenging. Government hospitals are often far away, and lines are long.

Here, in places like a dusty rural town called Rajiana, a 2-year-old company called Healthpoint Services is trying to figure out how to bring clean water and health care to rural communities on a global scale.

In a one-story, white-washed building set back from the highway, the company thinks it has developed the answer.

CEO Amit Jain brings a visitor into the pilot clinic, past the pharmacy counter, to an exam room where a patient sits next to a white-coated clinical assistant. They’re talking to a doctor on a video screen.

“This is what the model is all about,” Jain explains. “This is a real-time interaction between the patient, the clinical assistant, as well as the qualified doctor. The doctor is sitting about 200 miles from this place.”

And, according to Jain, the consultation costs 40 cents.

The Healthpoint model combines videoconferencing with cheap diagnostic tests and inexpensive water filtration all in one building. The company believes that in this way it can deliver affordable health care and clean water to the world’s low-income people – and make money doing it.

Source: NPR (link opens in a new window)