E Health Point- Providing Affordable Healthcare and Clean Drinking Water To Rural IndiaBrindaa Lakshmi K
E Health Point is the winner of Nasscom Social Innovation Honors 2012...
With only 1% of the GDP being spent by the Government of India on healthcare, the cost of healthcare has gone up by leaps and bounds. India currently lacks around 2 million beds to serve patients and healthcare is out of reach for millions in India. Nevertheless, efforts are being made to make healthcare affordable to all as a right to live. Even as you read this story, someone in a remote village in Punjab is being treated by a doctor from an Indian city just for Rs.20. Thanks to the advancement in Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and the 110 eHealth Point Centres in Punjab providing health services and clean drinking water set up by Healthpoint Services India.
With several years of experience in the water and health sector, affordable health care service was an obvious choice for Amit Jain, Founder, E Health Point Services India. Started in 2009, E Health Point Services India has its E Health Point Centres across Punjab to provide affordable health care and cleaning drinking water. “We provide high quality tele-medicine services to communities in rural areas and small town at affordable price points where we assure high quality and bridge the gap between the urban facilities and these rural communities”, shares Amit Jain.
E Health Point Services use ICT for 3 components. Firstly, the enterprise engages the patient and doctor through tele-medical conversations by video conferencing. Secondly, they employ advanced diagnostic tools which are also online. Third and recent addition is their mobile based diagnostics. Their health coordinators carry handheld tablets and phones to test clients and get advice from doctors in real time. Patients have a clinic in the rural areas and can get connected with doctors in urban area. The mobile diagnostics include mother and child care health services and diabetes and hypertension diagnostic services.
Around 40,000 people have had consultations, 20,000 diagnostics have been done and 35,000 prescriptions have been provided and 3000 vaccinations have been administered so far. Apart from that 2 lakh people are being provided clean drinking water for a monthly subscription of Rs. 75 per family. Affecting lives in this magnitude has had its own set of challenges. While the cost of healthcare is one major hindrance, changing the mindset of people is another big bully that threatens the health industry. There has been competition from the local healers who seem to be a better option that the organized medical personnel. In the last one year, E Health Point has mobilized strategies to work with the local healers to bring about the behavioural change with the people.
“Since the model has a high social impact, but low financial returns, it has not been seen as attractive by traditional venture capitalists. Government doesn’t give us financial support but provides us permissions and agreements as support”, explains Amit. After training employees on English, computer skills and customer management, retaining them has also been another challenge. The trained employees tend to migrate in search of better paying jobs.
Nevertheless, their hardwork has been paid off by several recognitions including the NASSCOM Social Innovation Honours Award which they received this year. “We found that NASSCOM gave us the platform to network with like-minded people. The award has given us better visibility to get access to better investors and VCs. NASSCOM has also enabled us to upgrade internal IT system”, shares Amit. E Health Point’s services will no longer be limited only to the people of Punjab. They are looking at expanding their footprint in geographies inside India and outside India as well. Since this model can be worked both as public sector & private sector entity along with clean drinking water, their expansion is likely to benefit more people. They have started similar services in some parts of Andhra Pradesh and Philippines as well.
Understanding their limitations, E Health Point Services intends to act as a catalyst and consultants to other organizations that would like to do similar activities bringing community focus to health, water and community wellness and lifestyle as a whole.