Industry: Emergency Medical Services
Mission: A professional ambulance and medical emergency service provider in India, addressing the country’s healthcare gap. They care for all, regardless of their income bracket, and aim to create a leading network of fully equipped ambulances across the developing world. Have grown into a fleet of 3,022 ambulances with 10,000 employees across 18 states in the country.
What 3 words best describe your company culture?
Ethical, Transparent, Socially Responsible
What quote best exemplifies your company?
“Saving a life is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can undergo in his/her lifetime.” — Mahatma Gandhi
How is your product or service having a positive social and/or environmental impact?
In 2005, Ziqitza Health Care Limited (Ziqitza Health Care) was founded by Shaffi Mather, Manish Sacheti, Ravi Krishna, Naresh Jain, Sweta Mangal — a group of young professionals — as a result of two contrasting personal experiences.
Late one fateful night in India, Shaffi Mather’s mother choked in her sleep and had breathing problems. Faced with the uncertainty of what to do, which number to call, and whom to rely on for assistance, the family felt helpless and chose to drive her to the hospital themselves. Just a few days later, Ravi Krishna’s mother collapsed in Manhattan, New York, USA, and within minutes, 911 arrived, provided medical aid and his mother survived.
The founders realized that the difference in both scenarios was the availability and accessibility of standardised emergency medical services provided. Every life matters and every second counts in saving a life. We believe that countless lives can be saved and numerous casualties minimised, with adequate and quick transportation facilities.
ZHL recognized the need of organized and professional ambulance providers in the country, and thus began the journey to create the best emergency response service in India that would be on par with 911 in the U.S. and 999 in the U.K. They realized the urgency of an organized and networked ambulance service required for saving those lives that would have been otherwise lost, for want of timely medical attention.
While EMS services are extremely well developed in countries like United States, they were severely lacking in India till early 2000. Despite other developments in the healthcare sector, India had yet to establish a single, comprehensive EMS system that could be accessed by all. The existing system was fragmented and did not meet the acute demand. The main providers of ambulance services were private ambulance owners, hospitals, NGOs, and government agencies. Some services were free, while others were not.
There was no service that covered the entire city, and most ambulances had little or no medical equipment—they were largely stripped down delivery vans. Victims often arrived at the hospital in the back of an auto rickshaw, in a family member’s car, or even in the bed of a delivery truck. There was no ambulance service that covered the entire city, much less one that could be reached 24 hours a day at an easy-to-remember phone number similar to the 911 system in the U.S. The founders of ZHL were also very clear that the service should be accessible and affordable to all sections of the society without burdening those who did not have the capability to pay for the same.
This made them realize that there was no ambulance service in India that covered the entire city that could be reached 24 hours a day at an easy-to-remember phone number similar to the 911 system in the U.S.
It is a universally accepted fact that a patient who receives basic care and is transported tothe closest healthcare facility within 15-20 minutes of a severe injury has the greatest chance of survival. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a critical element of any healthcare system as it has the potential to save countless lives by providing immediate care. The state of emergency care, however, varies radically from developed countries to developing countries.
There is a high demand for quality ambulance services in India. India is very disaster prone; almost 57% of India’s land mass is vulnerable to earthquakes, 68% to drought, 8% to cyclones, and 12% to floods. Additionally, the ratio of traffic accidents per 1000 vehicles is 21.3 times higher than the world average. 30% of accident victims in India die due to delays in transportation to medical facilities
The existing system is terribly fragmented and does not meet demand. The main providers of ambulance services are private ambulance owners, hospitals, NGOs, and government agencies. Some services are free, while others are not. These ambulances are often unavailable on a regular basis, are in poor condition and do not have appropriate medical equipment or trained paramedics, and the time taken to arrive at a patient’s location is lengthy. Regardless, most people in India do not use ambulances for medical emergencies The statistics collected show why ambulances are typically not called for in India.
Three key reasons demand the need for high quality emergency healthcare in India:
- Highest disaster and health accident prone areas in the world are in India
- High road traffic accident ratio and poor road infrastructure
- No established high quality emergency service in India
The solution of the founders to the above questions / issues was to set up and operate the ‘Dial 1298 for Ambulance’ Service as a cross-subsidy fee based business model. Under this model, it uses differential pricing: wealthier customers would pay the full rate for the Ambulance Service while the poor received a heavy discount and free service when required. To generate fixed income to service subsidized calls, 1298 gives external advertising space to corporates on yearly basis. Our corporate partners work with us through branding and awareness opportunities through our highly visible ambulance operations. This innovative pricing and leveraging corporate support has enabled us to make the service financially sustainable and cater to all sections of the society at the same time.
ZHL saw opportunity of partnering government to reach out quality ambulance service across the country, to execute the 108 services. Realising that it limited the opportunities for private organizations to participate in the process, ZHL played a very critical role in getting various states to introduce transparent bidding processes for private ambulance providers to bid for these PPPs in ambulance services. In 2009, ZHL won the 1st ever tendered out ambulance service in India (for Patna), bringing about a sequential change in other states also.
Keeping these factors in mind in 2005 and based on personal experiences of the founders the company was formed as Ziqitza Healthcare Limited. Our organization’s vision is to be the leading Ambulance Service provider in the developing world by assisting in saving human lives by providing a leading network of fully equipped Advanced and Basic Life Support Ambulances across the developing work.
We intent doing so, firstly, by adhering to our core values of being ethical, transparent and fostering teamwork within our organization. Secondly, in our road to realize our vision, we want to make sure that we meet international standards for quality in Emergency Medical Services, be accessible to all people irrespective of income and to be financially sustainable. At ZHL, emphasis on technology has been an important driver for improved service levels and quality of treatment during transit in emergency situations. Early technology adoption has helped ZHL with better management of our ambulance movements. During the very early stages the gap in existing training standards for the paramedics was very evident therefore to bridge this extensive emphasis is laid on skill training of the staff.
Today ZHL is operating more than 3300 ambulances across 16 states in India and has served more than people since inception. In last 15 years have created multiple service solutions that are tailor-made with quality standards benchmarked to international EMS. The focus has always been ensuring efficient transfers to trauma cenrtes by trained pre-hospital care professionals to save as many valuable lives. To this end, Ziqitza created different medical emergency response solutions, each serving the needs of very specific segments of customers and income class in India:
- Corporate EMS Wellness: Targeted at hospitals, corporates and manufacturing facilities, Special Economic Zones, Corporate Parks, Events, Sports Facilities, Public Gatherings and many more. Staffed with trained paramedics and drivers to manage day-to-day fleet operations with both Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances and Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances
- Cross-Subsidized Subscription Model: A subscription based model that guarantees ambulance services at one’s doorstep, and one pays what they can afford. By charging more from the affluent, ZHL was able to provide the same quality service to those who came from less affluent strata.
- Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Model: ZHL engaged with State Governments under the PPP model, making quality and standardized EMS accessible even in the remote corners of the country. ZHL is also working closely with the government to move towards a single EMS number, and has partnered with state governments of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Punjab and the National Health Mission (NHM) to operate the 108 helpline for medical emergency services for the general public.
Industry Firsts by Ziqitza: The impact has been tremendous in area of EMS as an effort of ZHL like:
- First company to launch GPS tracking of ambulances in India in the year 2005 with an aim to reduce response time.
- First company to launch First Responder Programme (FRPs) to generate awareness and impart life-saving skills. 3,40,000 people have been trained till date.
- First Indian ambulance service to partner with the London Ambulance Service and the New York Presbyterian-EMS for knowledge sharing.
- Opened doors for Transparent tendering for PPP for EMS.
- Had Created an innovative model under cross subsidy that makes world class ambulance service accessible and affordable to all sections of the society In this way, what started as a social initiative has become a highly successful business model, which is going the extra mile to ensure every life counts.
- Saved 2,76,70,269 number of lives.
- ZHL has a fleet of 3025 ambulances.
- 10,000 employees across the country.
- Served over 24 million people till date.
ZHL has been cited as a case study for its social impact in reputable educational institutions like Stanford, Columbia and Yale.
What is your company’s vision for the future?
Be the leading Pre-Hospital Service Provider of the developing world. To assist in saving human lives by providing a leading network of fully equipped Advanced & Basic Life Support Ambulances across the developing world.