Data for women: how Together wants to better maternal health in India
By gathering data and offering insights on maternity care across the country, Togtherforher.com is empowering women to go to centres that can advise them and treat them better.
At a glance:
What does the company do: Provides quality information on maternity care.
Funding: Self funded
Founder: Aditi Hazra Ganju
Based in: Mumbai
Sector: Maternal healthare
Aditi Hazra Ganju is a veteran of the pharma industry. In her decade-long career in healthcare, Aditi realised how difficult it is for women to find good maternity care centres in their neighbourhood. With no background knowledge, they often tend to go by word of mouth or end up at whatever lies closest in their vicinity.
But not all such hospitals have been reviewed and they fail at providing the right care to them. Realising this gap in the maternal care industry, Aditi founded Togetherforher.com — a community that provides quality reviews and guidance, helping women make confident decisions about their choice of a maternity hospital. Besides the reviews, Aditi’s website offers videos of medical care along with articles on post and pre-maternity.
Aditi is the Chief Talent Officer at Avegen, a startup focusing on the digital healthcare technology which influenced the concept for Together. Avegen was founded by a group of healthcare entrepreneurs, she is one of the founders. All of them had backgrounds in healthcare and the fourth was a tech entrepreneur.
“We had worked in Pharma R&D and healthcare innovation in pharma for over a decade, and we firmly believe that the future of healthcare lies in developing human-centred, tech-enabled solutions to maximise access, transparency and efficiency in the healthcare delivery process; that's when the idea gathering the missing data for women was born,” says Aditi.
A win-win solution
Recognising this pressing need to collect data for women and help them access a healthcare ecosystem which can support them holistically, Aditi launched Togetherforher.com in June 2017. The startup raised an undisclosed funding round from a pharma company which wanted it to gather insights on maternity care; almost 10,000 women have provided their insights on the care centres that they visited across the country. “We hope to gather as much data about the service standards and the type of doctors providing maternity care. We are creating parameters so that in the future women know whether a hospital is equipped to handle medical cases efficiently,” says Aditi.
Therefore, Togetherforher started with a clearly articulated challenge — how does the country raise the standard of maternity care in the private sector? Its team has worked extensively with doctors in the private sector and has also landscaped the large number of supply side initiatives, both in the public and private sector.
“We felt there was an opportunity to use demand side initiatives to create incentives for suppliers (hospitals) to improve their quality care. In our other businesses, we already had a view to how private care doctors and institutions are increasingly responding to the demands of paying customers,” says Aditi. “We knew that many institutions were looking for objective feedback with which they could improve the quality of their services and differentiate their practices.”
Their solution was designed around creating a win-win situation for consumers and suppliers of maternity care services. Merck for Mothers is their strategic partner which is committed to bring improvements in maternal health through innovative partnerships.
“We worked closely with several partners to define the quality of care indicators that would most impact consumers and hospitals,” says Aditi. Since the launch of the platform, over 5,000 mothers have provided feedback on their maternity experience. Close to 300 hospitals across India have signed up on Together, signalling their commitment to improve their care, based on this feedback.
Why do this?
India has registered a significant decline in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). However, the incidence is still very high. According to the just released SRS bulletin, IMR of India has declined by three points (eight percent decline), from 37 per 1,000 live births in 2015 to 34 per 1,000 live births in 2016. This number is only six per 1,000 in the US. India has no data on care providers and the type of care provided. With this data, women can be empowered to go to centres that can advise them and treat them better. Togetherforher is mapping this data across the country and has raised a lot of money (undisclosed) to gather data. “Being well funded is key to gathering as much data. We will then figure out several business models,” says Aditi.
“Data is what Indians need. Not all of them use it effectively. A lot of data out there is not well collected and is extremely biased,” says Mohandas Pai of Aarin Capital.
The business model
Currently there is no business model yet as Together is gathering data. The team is committed towards growing the Together platform to 500 hospitals by March 2018. Work has already commenced on demonstrating the impact of this platform on the quality of maternity care services (by making data available) on their website. There are several business model opportunities that Aditi is thinking about; one is that hospitals can use data to improve the treatment for patients. They can also work with pharma companies to provide the right medical interventions to hospitals. “We will eventually help women access quality maternity care,” says Aditi.