April 7 is celebrated as the World Health Day each year and this year’s theme ‘Building a Fairer, Healthier World for Everyone’ assumes an added significance considering the world is fighting the worst pandemic in over a century.
Covid-19 has hit the world hard, but its impact has been harder on those communities which were already vulnerable and exposed, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.
Citing how Covid-19 has highlighted that some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others – entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on global leaders to ensure that everyone has living conditions that are conducive to good health.
With health services moving beyond the traditional framework of hospitals and doctors’ clinics amid the technological revolution, we are introducing you to a few chosen health tech startups in India which have been working towards promoting good health, offering better accessibility and affordability during the pandemic and otherwise, impacting millions of lives.
‘Heal at Home’ with Portea Medical
Co-founded by serial entrepreneurs K. Ganesh and Meena Ganesh in 2013, this consumer healthcare provider operates across the segments of primary care, preventive health care, nutrition, chronic disease management, elderly care and post-operative care and diabetic management.
Portea has been undertaking various initiatives during the Covid-19 crisis, offering home visits from doctors, nurses, attendants and physiotherapists. The company also delivered Covid-19 monitoring, isolation and awareness related services to millions of people across India during this period.
It also provides collection of lab samples and offers medical equipment for sale or on hire, as well as patient assistance programmes for chronic disease management, bringing the entire gamut of healthcare services to the patient’s doorstep. The startup has built its own technology platform, to help its providers adhere to standard operating procedures, access diagnostic tools, share information, and manage records for each patient.
Since its inception, the company has completed more than 3.5 million patient visits across 16 cities, including Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Jaipur, and Indore. The company manages over 120,000 plus patient visits each month and works with more than 50 leading hospital partners, 15 pharma majors, and leading insurance companies in India.
The company was named ‘Startup of the Year’ in the 2016 NDTV Unicorn Awards in the Health-Tech category. They have also bagged Frost & Sullivan Award for Home Medical Care Services Company of the Year (2015) and ‘Emerging Health Brand of the Year’ at the India Health Summit & Awards (2016).
‘Discover. Learn. Discuss’ with Medtalks.in
A healthcare learning and patient education platform, Medtalks was founded in 2019 by seasoned healthcare professional Nilesh Aggarwal, with an aim to address the issue of the shortage of medical professionals in India and offer valid advice to those deprived of it.
Medtalks is a comprehensive digital platform providing expert answers to patient queries from highly qualified and reputed doctors across India. It is the first such initiative in India dedicated to simplifying and spreading medical awareness among the public.
Aggarwal had been running leading medical communications player, International Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics (IJCP) Group, which has been operating since 1991, for the past eight years.
Medtalks notes that India has less than one doctor for over 1,000 patients (WHO recommends a minimum doctor to patient ratio of 1:1000), while a majority of the population still resides in non-urban or far flung areas where the ratio is even more skewed. The absence of qualified medical advice makes people either rely upon quacks or other sources, while many even resort to self-medication and diagnosis by searching on Google based on the symptoms (more than 1 per cent of Google search traffic belongs to this category). However, this self-diagnosis and medication can cause more problems, as more often than not, similar symptoms could have multiple causes and in the absence of a qualified medical analysis, can lead to incorrect, harmful and potentially fatal outcomes.
This is the one of the core problems that Medtalks is addressing by providing an ever-expanding video bank (1500 plus videos already).
Through these, renowned medical professionals answer basic health-related queries of patients. Hence, irrespective of the geographic location, patients or their families have access to advice from best doctors in the country.
Apart from the exhaustive video bank, Medtalks is also working towards providing other tech-enabled and simple facilities such as creation of patient discussion forums and integrating real-time two digital communications between patients and doctors. They also help facilitate discussions in various Indian regional languages.
Medtalks.in has today become the one-stop-shop for people in terms of queries around Covid-19 and countering their fear and anxiety. They have also been regularly conducting Medtalks with Dr K.K. Aggarwal, the President of Heart Care Foundation of India and Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania (CMAAO).
The startup witnessed a 10,000 per cent growth in numbers over the last six months and over 50 lakh plus views. Through their initiatives, they have already reached out to over 20 million people in the last few months.
The tech-driven platform also offers Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses online. The aim is to provide quality training to grassroots level healthcare workers.
HealthCube – ‘Smart Diagnostics Start Here’
Despite advancements in medicine and diagnostic technology, there is a lack of quality tools to aid diagnosis in many clinical settings. To address this, Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan founded HealthCube, a point-of-care technology-enabled diagnostics service provider, in 2015 with a vision to transform healthcare delivery and make diagnosis simple and hassle-free.
HealthCube’s primary product is a medically balanced, technologically sophisticated, handy, portable diagnosis system, similar to a set-top box, that can be used easily anywhere by anyone with minimal training. The system is a combination of smart diagnostics and artificial intelligence to facilitate rapid screening of patients. With this smart solution, HealthCube aims to add value to the services being provided by thousands of healthcare practitioners, especially GPs and frontline health workers. The data collected through HealthCube can be analysed on customisable parameters and used to track trends in patient acquisition and disease occurrences.
During this pandemic, it is necessary to keep a check on one’s health. HealthCube provides results in 1 to 15 minutes for over 30 tests across various parameters like vitals, biochemistry, infectious diseases, and cardiac markers, etc. The results are saved electronically on cloud with the help of an Android-based application and accessed easily on mobile phones and laptops. The device can be used in the absence of electricity or internet, so is ideally suited to remote, far-flung locations which lack access to doctors and diagnostic labs.
Their other medical-grade product, AgeWell, is especially made for the elderly and those who need to monitor their vitals regularly. The all-in-one AgeWell Health Monitor is operated by an app on the phone and measures blood pressure, blood glucose, oxygen saturation, pulse rate, temperature, respiratory rate and performs single channel ECGs. The results are shared in real-time with the family doctor who can respond quickly using teleconsultation. Family members can also feel assured by having their own access to the results via AgeWell CareMate App. In this way, AgeWell forms a ‘Circle of Care’ for its user members. It offers customised care with services and features like video consultation, pill reminder, digital prescription, digitised health records, fall detection, etc.
HealthCube has a footprint across four continents, and in India, its devices are deployed across 22 states. It is also working on different operating models with 11 state governments. Leading corporates, including Vodafone Idea ltd, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, among others. have collaborated with HealthCube for their CSR programmes.
As on date, over 750,000 beneficiaries have been registered on HealthCube Ecosystem and 2.5 million tests have been performed.
Learn ‘Yoga at Home’ with SARVA
Founded in 2016 by Sarvesh Shashi, SARVA is the country’s fastest-growing yoga and wellness ecosystem with wellness studios across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Delhi. It aims to organise the currently fragmented yoga and wellness industry, not just in India but internationally as well.
Built on authentic foundations of yoga, SARVA focuses on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of an individual. The venture offers more than 25 forms of yoga with a range of interesting props curated dance routines and other workout options.
In March 2020 when the world at large was gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic, SARVA decided to pivot by going digital. The company took its entire brick and mortar model (consisting of over 50 Yoga studios across the country) and went online. This move made the brand and its offerings accessible to people from across the planet via various virtual programmes and activities held both on their application and on their social media platforms with activities such as SARVA’s immunity booster programme, as well as 21 days in solitude wellness out-reach initiative, lung strengthening sessions, mental wellness through sound therapy and healing sessions, breathing exercises to help with anxiety, stress and sleeping disorders.
A lot of content that is currently being put out by SARVA is free of cost, over and above the paid monthly subscription. The free content is being put out mainly to encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle with the help of yoga.
Over the last year, SARVA’s live online classes via their digital outreach has managed to cross over 5 billion minutes and have reached out to over 2 million active users worldwide.
The brand is backed by global celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and well-known investors Mark Mastrov and Alex Rodriguez to celebrities, influencers, and experts like Malaika Arora, Aishwaryaa Dhanush, Shikhar Dhawan and Shahid Kapoor among others.