Female entrepreneurs pushing boundaries in healthcare: Challenges & Opportunities

The healthcare industry has undergone a revolution over the past few years in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and female leaders or entrepreneurs at the forefront.

There is no doubt that healthcare is a fast-growing industry, with hundreds of startups springing up every year. In the fast-paced environment brought about by the IT boom of the past few years, apart from the pandemic, women entrepreneurs have also played an important role. They wear many hats, from doctors to nurses to CEOs of healthcare or health tech startups.

In addition to the impact of the pandemic, an overarching shift in cultural norms led to this moment. As discussions about women’s issues such as sexual and reproductive health become less taboo, more women entrepreneurs are seeking solutions.

Thus, there are multiple determinants that influence women’s entrepreneurship in healthcare. Seizing the enormous opportunities in healthcare, a new generation of female entrepreneurs has emerged who are pushing boundaries and invading hitherto male-dominated fields.

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Why are women suitable for the healthcare industry?

Unlike other sectors or industries, healthcare requires empathy and compassion as essential traits. Women entrepreneurs are rich in empathy, making them a perfect fit for the healthcare industry. In addition, it is also seen that women are often the decision makers in the home. Whether buying healthcare products or services, they know how to do it right.

Women also often have a deep and serious consideration or understanding of health, hygiene and cleanliness needs, making them suitable for the healthcare profession. Women also tend to dig deep into what is presented to them, which helps to find the root of every problem and fix it. Going forward, women, as entrepreneurs, are empowered to make their own schedules and tackle other family obligations.

Another thing that makes women ideal entrepreneurs in healthcare is that they are naturally collaborative and can use their skills well to grow their entities. Additionally, healthcare has historically attracted women to the workforce. For example, in nursing and medical schools today, 50-60% of classrooms in India are filled by women.

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Keeping up with the pace of technology and the demands of digitalization in healthcare, many women have shaped the industry and created platforms to revolutionize it. In October, for the first time, two women were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, a timely sign of the growing role of women in health-related fields. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna received the prestigious award for developing a genome editing method called CRISPR.

What are the challenges and how can they be overcome?

Women entrepreneurs in healthcare can face a range of challenges despite their hunger, capacity, commitment and resilience. From running overall operations to people management, digital marketing and finance, they sometimes manage everything. Some of the other issues women entrepreneurs face include corporate funding issues, limited access to professional networks, limited industry knowledge, lack of an entrepreneurial environment, pressure to uphold gender roles, lack of business education, low risk tolerance, and limited mobility.

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Despite these challenges, their mindsets are changing and more women are being encouraged to start and manage their businesses. Women can be winners in this space if they can overcome what they perceive as an inability to raise funds and drive difficult negotiations.

Advice for Women Entrepreneurs in Healthcare

It takes a lot of patience for female entrepreneurs venturing into healthcare. Things take time, and success doesn’t happen overnight. Long-term presence is important from a brand awareness standpoint, which is important in healthcare because patients need trust. Beyond that, having a clear understanding of why and how the journey will help in understanding healthcare needs and seizing the huge opportunity to grow in India. With the growing healthcare needs and opportunities in India, the future of women entrepreneurs in India looks incredible.

Pritika Singh Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Prayag Hospital Group



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