India is slated to be the world’s youngest country by 2020. However, the other side of the coin, according to the State of Elderly in India Report 2014, is that by 2050, the elderly will constitute 20 per cent of the total population in the country. Already, India has 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) making it home to the world’s second largest senior population after China.
With the increase in the aging population come a host of other challenges related to their care and well-being. As more and more young people move away from their hometowns and the joint family system no longer as prevalent as before, the elderly have less family support readily available in case of medical emergencies.
Added to this, the taboo surrounding institutional care for ageing parents, logistical challenges in crowded cities for seniors to manage hospital visits on their own and an overburdened public health system, you have some of the reasons why home healthcare is fast emerging as a convenient, reliable, and cost-effective option for senior care.
Portea Medical, India’s largest home healthcare company, is headquartered in Bengaluru and was founded in 2013 to cater to such a demographic. The company, with a 60 per cent customer base of those over 60, allows the elderly to avail high-quality care and support services from the comfort of their homes, reducing their hospital visits, travel time and costs related to health, while also being remotely monitored by their families.
Home healthcare takes the pain out of managing health
Portea leads the in-home care segment with operations in 16 Indian cities. In its largest market in Bengaluru, the company conducts over 500,000 monthly visits, including elder care and registered a month-on-month growth of 15 per cent in the number of home visits since 2013.
Metropolitan cities are home to a large elderly population like whose families are abroad and expats seeking professional home healthcare for aged parents.
Mr. Pai (85) is one of 50,000 senior citizens availing Portea’s services in Bengaluru. "Both my sons are in the US,” he says. “They were obviously worried about us being alone, but from the time we contracted Portea, things are much better. The nurse from Portea is wonderful and we look forward to her fortnightly visits. Not only does she give us the right advice and check whether we are taking our medicines, she also spends time speaking to us and we look forward to her company. Having her come home and check on us has made a huge difference in our lives.”
With Portea’s suite of services including home visits by qualified healthcare professionals, full doctor consultations, and medical equipment rentals, aged patients can avail personalised care and support.
The company has its sights set on becoming a comprehensive solution for all of a senior’s healthcare needs with its 4,000-member strong workforce of doctors, nurses, nursing attendants, and physiotherapists. Patients availing Portea’s services enjoy timely access to specially designed eldercare plans which include services like assisted living, long term medical care, nursing care, mobility improvement and physiotherapy, and allied services like diagnostics, medical equipment rentals, and pharmacy delivery.
Technology as an enabler
What truly sets Portea apart is its focus on using technology as an enabler. Its proprietary tech platform has been used to oversee a remote workforce, standardise processes, manage patient outcomes, and offer a consolidated view of the healthcare system. Says Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO of Portea Medical, “Portea has also started using point of care devices and remote monitoring equipment at patients’ homes to capture vitals such as blood pressure, temperature, and blood glucose levels. Backend algorithms check for adverse drug reactions and provide an alert in case patients’ vitals cross internally set thresholds.”
Tech-enabled Portea clinicians use diagnostic tools to capture patient data and upload it via their smartphone to an EMR platform. This platform then uses predictive analytics to analyse health trends and push proactive healthcare interventions if the trends indicate that the patient’s health is deteriorating. Portea’s online patient portal provides electronic medical documentation so that medical records can be accessed by doctors and patients anywhere in the world, anytime.
Patients can book home healthcare services over the Portea app or email and avail of services such as Doctor Chat. “Convenience and access to expert health care and bespoke medical services are the main reasons why Portea has seen a huge demand for our services,” Ganesh explains.
Being headquartered in Bengaluru offers it the added benefits of access to much-needed tech talent and to a mature startup ecosystem.
Its wide-ranging partnerships with hospitals, pharma companies, and others in the healthcare ecosystem have allowed Portea to consolidate quality healthcare services under one roof. As part of its B2B offering, Portea partners with leading hospitals across the country, including Medanta, Fortis, Columbia Asia, and Manipal Hospitals to provide extended home health services. Corporates such as Cognizant and Deloitte avail of Portea’s services like medical room management, vaccinations, pre-employment checks and elder care and women’s health plans.
Last year, it cemented its position at the top of the home healthcare segment by bagging $47 million in two funding rounds led by Accel Partners and with its acquisitions and strategic investments in other players in healthcare delivery – a specialty pharmaceutical distributor, a healthtech startup, and most recently, a home medical equipment service provider.
A number of healthcare providers and hospitals across the country such as India Home Healthcare, Health Care at Home, Nightingales, Apollo, and Max are entering the home healthcare sector, but being the best capitalised among them is helping Portea emerge as the clear frontrunner in this competitive arena. It has clocked 2 million patient visits across the country since its inception and served over 120,000 patients (an increase of 133 per cent from 46,330 total patients over the last 12 months). An increase in the number of visits per month from 60,000 in July 2015 to 100,000+ in June 2016 indicate a rising demand for quality home health care. “We are privileged to have a very strong set of investors whose support has been critical in helping establish and scale the company to its current leadership position in the Indian home healthcare industry,” says Ganesh.
How ICICI Bank’s startup-focused services can help such businesses
A home healthcare brand with an enhanced focus on technology, an app-based as well as physical business, and a target demographic that prefers both digital as well as traditional transactions, Portea also has several customers who are based in other locations, both in India and abroad.
An overwhelming problem with a distributed service delivery model for such home healthcare companies is that collection from customers is in multiple modes (cash, cheques, cards, UPI) and reconciliation of the payments received becomes a challenge. Portea has resolved this issue by integrating its systems with ICICI Bank’s I Sure Pay product, which assigns a unique ID to every transaction. Once the payment is received, these are automatically reconciled. ICICI Bank has also introduced the Eazypay app which can collect from any credit or debit cards and UPI.
Apart from these solutions, startups can also use ICICI Bank’s branch network for collection from customers, thus reducing the need for manpower and time taken to collect payments.
In addition, for a rapidly growing company such as Portea, ICICI Bank also provides customised solutions across multiple functions such as automation, reconciliation, revenue tracking and processing, among others. Such solutions help businesses on the growth path to focus on product and tech innovation.