As India moves to create smart cities, HealthBot is on a mission to build smart clinics across the country, by bringing doctors’ services to rural patients.
At a glance
Founder: Jayakishor Bhanja
Year it was founded: 2016
Where is it based: Bengaluru
The problem it solves: Improving the outreach and outcome of healthcare services using technology
Funding raised: Bootstrapped ($200,000)
Having worked in the cloud technology sector at IT giant Wipro, Jayakishor Bhanja was once sitting with a doctor friend while the latter was consulting patients at his clinic in Bhubaneshwar.
A 60-year-old man with diabetes had travelled two hours on a bus to meet the doctor, and then had to wait for a considerable amount of time for his turn. To add to his distress, the patient did not have his prescriptions with him.
This experience forced Jayakishor to think what he could do to make the entire experience of visiting a doctor easy and hassle-free for both, the doctor and the patient.
Visitng a few clinics in rural areas, Jayakishor realised the doctor to patient ratio was low, which led to long waiting periods and gaps in treatment. Speaking to a few doctors, “I asked them if they would be interested to see their patients every day from the comfort of their home or clinics, without coming to these remote locations and I found that a lot of young doctors liked the idea. I thought of giving them an Internet of Things (IoT)-based platform that can be used to improve outreach and outcome,” Jayakishor explains.
This was the beginning of HealthBot, a social health enterprise set up in 2016, which has been connecting doctors in urban areas with patients in rural sectors to offer affordable and high-quality healthcare.
HealthBot has so far set up two rural clinics in Odisha’s Ganjam district, which have three staff members each – a doctor, a lab assistant, and one for administration. The doctor in the rural clinic liaisons with specialist doctors through the HealthBot platform to give patients access to better healthcare facilities.
The HealthBot platform also has a tele-medicine interface, and patients’ information is uploaded on it. The clinics have IoT-enabled diagnostic devices to measure blood pressure, blood sugar, oxygen saturation, etc.
For various diagnostic tests, HealthBot clinics have tied up with third-party labs, and samples are sent to labs in urban areas. The clinics also help patients scan and upload existing and old reports on the platform.
HealthBot is planning around 25 clinics in Odisha and Karnataka by the end of this year. It charges Rs 150 for a consultation per patient, and pathology and dental service fees are at a discounted rate and vary from geography to geography.
HealthBot is also focusing on using the platform to monitor patients in critical care units so as to bring their information to doctors’ fingertips.
The core team members include Jayakishor, Dr Manoranjan, Dr Kanhu Charan Sahoo, and Sarthak Patnaik. Sarthak and Jayakishor graduated together, and Dr Manoranjan was his senior in school. Sarthak has experience with building technology startups based on IoT.
The startup is currently a 10-member team including the Jayakishor.
HealthBot got its initial revenues from selling licenses for the platform. It charged Rs 15,000 per doctor per year for use of the standard variation of the platform. However, it soon stopped selling licences, and moved on to services. Doctors would earlier buy the license for the platform to store medical records and provide care management to patients, which includes sending reminders, setting goals and keeping track of the same.
The firm has now four doctors on board, and has 15 empanelled doctors on the platform. The HealthBot clinics have seen a steady rise in footfalls over the last year, more specifically for dental care services.
Initially, the clinics saw an average of two to three patients every two days, but now cater to five to six a day.
The startup is also piloting at the Intensive Critical Care Unit (ICCU) at a hospital in Bhubaneswar and has deployed HealthBot at the primary healthcare centre of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.
A Deloitte report states, “The Indian healthcare market, which is worth $100 billion, is likely to grow at a 23 percent CAGR to reach $280 billion by 2020.”
“We have two of our smart clinics running in Ganjam District, one in Rambha and one in Purushotampur. There are 314 blocks in Odisha; we intend to set up 250 such clinics in Odisha itself,” says Jayakishor.
The firm’s services are proving to be a win-win for patients and doctors - patients from rural areas have easy access to good quality healthcare, while doctors in cities can consult and treat patients without having to travel to rural areas.
HealthBot claims it doesn’t have any primary competitors. Jayakishor adds, “Most healthcare startups focus on urban areas, while we focus on rural areas. That is our USP.”