Q: Do you believe medical crowdfunding has become a boon as healthcare continues to be largely out of pocket expenditure in India. What are the challenges that the patients encounter before resorting to medical crowdfunding platforms?
Varun Sheth: We are a country of 1.3 billion people but our healthcare spending is merely 1.28% of the GDP. Though we have promising healthcare schemes, the coverage is insufficient for treating critical illnesses such as cancer or transplants which cost up to Rs. 25 lakhs. Additionally, the schemes are restricted to the poor and underprivileged families, so middle-class families continue to struggle with the medical treatment cost. Hence, medical crowdfunding has become a boon for the people who are not able to afford and access quality and timely healthcare.
An estimated 80 percent of the Indian population is without any form of health insurance and 63 percent of all medical emergency costs are out-of-pocket expenses, most families drain their entire savings, sell their assets, borrow money at high rates to fund their medical bills. The Public Health Foundation of India’s (PHFI) study shows over 55 million Indians are pushed into poverty every year due to patient-care costs.
Underinsured population, insufficient public health system, and expensive private medical facilities are the primary phenomenon leading to healthcare affordability and accessibility gap.
Q: During the COVID pandemic, how much has the monthly average of medical campaigns started on Ketto.org increased?
Varun Sheth: During the pandemic, especially in the second wave, we have registered a surge in medical fundraisers. Since May 2021 (six months) we have hosted over 15000 medical fundraisers and raised over Rs. 200 crores. The primary cause of these campaigns was to raise funds for COVID hospitalization, lung damage due to covid, black fungus, yellow fungus along with other critical medical treatments such as cancer, BMT, and transplants.
Q: What strategy do you follow to help families in need of financial aid for medical treatment?
Varun Sheth: Most people trying to raise funds online for a non-profit cause, such as an urgent medical procedure for a family member – have a common weakness. They are not very strong digital marketers at a personal skill level.
A significant chunk of the population that aims to raise money online through platforms, severely lacks strong digital skills, such as audience segmentation, dedicated outreach strategies, and the 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’d never end up reaching their minimum goals. They would eventually withdraw from any attempt to take their problems online. This was a common issue plaguing the early times of crowdfunding.
In the case of a medical ad campaign, we use comprehensive AI engines that start into action whenever an intelligent crowdfunding campaign goes live, possess the capability of mapping the value/returns/conversions generated through outreach on various other platforms (such as Google AdSense, YouTube, Facebook Ads, or even the organic categorical posting inside the platform). It compares their performance against one another to then identify and implement the best possible promotional strategy for these campaigns. Therefore, the person raising funds can invest more time in caring for their patient rather than worrying about funds.
A growing number of users have exceeded their crowdfunding goals long before their deadlines due to using AI-driven crowdfunding outreach strategies. The data at hand reveals a common sentiment; AI-driven analytics have proven increasingly efficient when mapped proportionately against the level of criticality in each case.
The biggest beneficiaries of the intelligent outreach system are the ones who were trying to raise money for the most severe illnesses. These patients range from leukemia patients who need a bone marrow transplant to people requiring high-precision organ transplants.
Additionally, we also offer private fundraiser features to our campaigners, as many campaigners don’t want to share their campaign publicly due to social stigma or privacy concerns. Such fundraisers are password protected and only people with the password can view the fundraiser details and donate to the campaign.
Q: How do you see the crowdfunding market evolving in the coming years?
Varun Sheth: The global crowdfunding market is rapidly evolving, it is likely to grow by USD 196.36 billion during 2021-2025, expanding at a CAGR of over 15 percent. Asia being the major growth driver, we have seen a huge potential for crowdfunding in India. With increased internet penetration, a surge in the use of online payments, and ease of digital transactions, the crowdfunding industry is witnessing major growth in the country.
We host over 2000 medical fundraisers per month and have seen a growth of 50 percent CAGR in the last five years. Additionally, in the last three years, our donor base has increased to 1000 percent who are keen on supporting medical fundraisers.
As an organisation we believe, crowdfunding in India is evolving rapidly. We have seen great acceptance in the metro and urban cities. We have noticed that children at the mere age of 15 want to raise funds to bring change in someone’s life.
Today crowdfunding is not just a platform to raise money for a cause, but it is a force for good. It is an avenue for people to come together as a community, it gives people an 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 spread awareness about the concept of cause-based crowdfunding. We are expanding our foot on the ground, aiming to reach more and more towns and cities, partnering with hospitals and NGOs to educate the masses on cause-based crowdfunding.
Q: Will AL, internet access, and social media platforms among others will be the major drivers of growth?
Varun Sheth: As more and more people have become comfortable with digital infrastructure, the idea of “donating” to a cause via the internet has gained pace. As an added boon, the consistent focus on emerging and scalable AI tech has also allowed digital crowdfunding to transform targeted outreach and high-conversion space.