NanoHealth’s ‘Doc-in-a-bag’ breaks economic barriers

Satyadevi, aged 32 years, a home maker with a class ten qualification, is busy screening electronic records of patients at a slum in Hyderabad using glucometer and BP apparatus. Belonging to a less-privileged group with a hand-to mouth existence, Satyadevi’s wishes are nearly fulfilled as she is now empowered with a job as a social worker in her slum community spreading awareness about chronic diseases. She is one among those local community health workers who is now equipped with a ‘Doc-in-a-bag’ , a low-cost diagnostic tool developed by NanoHealth.

NanoHealth is a startup founded in 2014 by a group of five alumni from Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB). The ISB alumni comprising the NanoHealth team include Dr Ashish Bondia, a primary care physician, Manish Ranjan, business process re-engineering consultant, financial services and risk management specialist Ramanathan Lakshmanan, marketing and communications expert Aditi Vaish and technology design expert Pranav Kumar Maranganty.

NanoHealth is a social enterprise specialising in chronic disease management and provides managed care services by creating local health networks and using innovative technology to bring cost-effective healthcare at the doorstep. In 2014, the company was awarded the Hult Prize, the first ever Indian team to receive the award to the tune of $1 million funding support from the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

The startup has created a network of local community health workers called ‘Saathis’, who are well-paid, empowered women in the community, forming a strong network of caregivers. These workers, who are trained and certified by the company, use the “Doc-in-a-Bag”, a low-cost diagnostic tool for chronic disease management among the slum groups. It has developed a data collection platform for integrated electronic health records (EHRs) and an app for screening patients for chronic diseases.

“Our aim is to rightsize healthcare in urban slums with feet on the street,” says Ashish Bondia, co-founder and director. “We are a unique startup offering healthcare services, spreading awareness on the silent killer chronic diseases such as blood pressure and diabetes,” he says.

“We just started our operations in Hyderabad. Going forward, we are planning to scale up operations across the country and hope to be in 10 states in the next two years,”,’ Bondia says. The company is also upbeat on health insurance services for the urban slum communities.

“As part of our long-term plans, we also intend to assist in providing health insurance services among the slum groups,” Manish Ranjan, CEO, says. This is a first of its initiative for increasing health insurance penetration among the masses, even while the company is trying to spread healthcare services in urban slums. Although the Indian health insurance market still lags behind other countries in terms of penetration, yet the health insurance segment is rising and continues to be one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the Indian insurance industry.

The infrastructure, capacity and reach into urban slums that NanoHealth is building is invaluable and the health insurance is one of the many ways in which it can be leveraged. Sathguru is comprehensively handholding the venture from incubation through progressive milestones of operational rollout and value creation, says Pushpa Vijayaraghavan, vice president, Sathguru management Consultants, which is assisting NanoHealth in its growth phase.

According to a WHO report, about 50% of deaths occur due to chronic diseases such hyper tension and diabetes among low income groups and communities. “We are on a mission to prevent premature deaths caused due to chronic diseases in urban slums. We have so far screened over 2,000 people out of 1,446 slum groups in Hyderabad.

Our target is to screen over 10,000 people which would include diagnosis, treatment with 50% discount and also cut down on the propensity of unwanted tests,”’ says Manish Ranjan, CEO. The screened date is then stored in the form of electronic health record (EHRs) for future use and data integrity is maintained by the company.

“For widespread screening, we are in talks with central and state government institutions, pharma companies, pharmacies, hospital groups and work in an integrated manner,” Manish Ranjan adds. The company recently teamed up with GVK Bio’s HEART (Health Emphasised Analytical and Reporting Tool) platform will help reduce/reverse the progression of chronic diseases by enabling better disease management for patients and providing preventive risk management at a very affordable cost, thus making healthcare accessible to all socio-economic segments of society.

The startup has been getting a lot of investors attention even while Bangalore-based Devi Shetty, founder, Narayana Hrudalaya Hospital, has been more than a God-father to the founders. “We may look at fresh funds as we scale up our operations pan India. However, there is a lot more to do. We need government support and partnerships to reach out to more demanding people who are from the slums,” Ashish Bondia adds.

Source: Financial Express

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