Sometimes, a setback can lead to an aha moment. This happened to Raghuraj Sunder Raju when he had to deal with hyperuricemia, a chronic metabolic problem that results in high content of uric acid in the blood. In his search for a relevant solution, he found that that chronic healthcare in India was being managed just like acute illness care. This was the tipping point: he quit job with Huawei Technologies and started HealthPlix in June 2015.
“My entrepreneurial journey began when I was frustrated by the inadequacy of chronic care in India. Chronic problems need different management approaches as they cannot be cured. When I decided to start a company, I chose a chronic disease segment such as diabetes as it was affecting around 70 million people in our country,” says Raghuraj (34), a computer science graduate from R.V. College of Engineering and an MBA from National University of Singapore.
HealthPlix subsequently raised Rs 1.6 crores in two phases in angel round from two senior executives of global corporations and a Bengaluru-based HNI (high net worth individual). Raghuraj said that the money has been used to build the technology and product.
HealthPlix provides an app for patients and a separate app for doctors, helping achieve personalisation at scale for the doctors. By leveraging its platform, the same doctor can treat multiple patients.
Raghuraj realised the importance of personalisation when he discovered that two diabetes cases cannot be identical even if they have similar blood sugar levels. The treatment for both varies as it depends on the individual’s degree of insulin deficiency and insulin resistance. Therefore, the only way to overcome this is to personalise the treatment, in this case monitoring the medicine titration for each patient.
The app enables the doctors identify areas that can improve patient experience, set treatment goals and diligently measuring patient progress. With its analytics, doctors can also measure practice performance and patient health status over time.
HealthPlix is also trying to bring in a behavioural change in doctors by introducing them to EMR (electronic medical record) so that they can have real-time access to their patients’ cases,” says Raghuraj.
HealthPlix currently has 30 to 33 active doctors (including general physicians, diabetologists and endocrinologists) who are treating 1,000 patients.
To bring the patient on board, the doctor recommends the app and the patient installs it, entering the registered code number or the doctor’s code. After signing in, the doctor is automatically connected to the patient and accesses the relevant information.
Currently, close to 900 patients are using the app. A platform fee is levied on the doctors and patients take a chronic care subscription from their doctors for a fee determined by the latter.
The fees vary and are calculated on the types of care needed by the patients. This variation depends on the extent of personalisation in managing the diabetic condition.
By the end of December 2016, HealthPlix is aims to have 400 to 450 doctors on board on its platform to provide chronic diabetes care. And in the next two years, it has set itself a target of 2,800 to 3,200 doctors.
“We eliminated all the process friction, and our product fits seamlessly within the doctor’s existing clinical practice. Once incorporated, the doctors immediately began to see the benefits of using HealthPlix to manage their diabetes patients. We aim to transform diabetes care by improving patient experience and empower them to manage chronic diseases more confidently,” says Raghuraj.
With a nine member team, HealthPlix is present in Bengaluru and is planning to expand to Pune, Hyderabad and Delhi.
The World Health Organisation says the number of people with diabetes has nearly quadrupled since 1980. Prevalence is increasing worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
According to Public Health Foundation of India, nearly 44 lakh Indians aged 20 to 79 years are unaware that they are diabetic, a condition that can expose them to heart attack, stroke, amputations, nerve damage, blindness and kidney disease.
Currently, India is home to 62 million diabetics, an increase of nearly 2 million in just one year. India is second only to China, which is home to 92.3 million diabetics. By 2030, India's diabetes numbers are expected to cross the 100-million mark.
A handful of startups have intervened in the area of chronic diseases like diabetes by leveraging technology. BeatO offers comprehensive diabetes care at home and has had 40,000 downloads so far. Diabeto for diabetes management is a hardware device which wirelessly transmits blood glucose readings from a glucometer into a smartphone. Bengaluru-based Diabetacare has so far served 31,643 patients so far by partnering with 65 clinics.
According to India Brand Equity Foundation, the healthcare market in India was worth close to $100 billion as of 2015, and is expected to touch $280 billion by 2020, clocking a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 22.9 percent. The Department of Industry Policy and Promotion announced that FDI (foreign direct investment) in hospitals and diagnostic centres totalled $3.21 billion in 2000-15.