[The Turning Point] Triggered by personal struggles, Meena Ganesh founded healthcare startup Portea Medical
Turning Point is a series of short articles that focusses on the moment when an entrepreneur hit upon their winning idea. Today, we look at Bengaluru-based Portea Medical, a leading consumer healthcare startup.
Around 2010, Meena Ganesh, alumni of IIM-Calcutta, was struggling between leading her life while making sure that her elderly parents were taken care of. Her father was diagnosed with cancer and post all the treatments in the hospitals, Meena was still in a plight.
There were no solutions available to help her father manage his condition, providing him with enough physical and mental support at home. Soon after, Meena's father passed away.
“It was a real eye-opener on the gaps that existed in the Indian healthcare system. Something was terribly broken,” says Meena, the Managing Director and CEO of the consumer healthcare startup, Portea Medical.
Meena was then the Co-founder of Tutorvista, a digital education solutions platform for schools. However, with this whole ‘gap’ bothering her, she kept researching the Indian healthcare sector for the next three years. In 2013, she exited Tutorvista, which then got acquired by Pearson.
While still exploring what to do next, Meena was convinced that the healthcare system needed some serious disruption. “A lot of money was put into the hospital and curative sector, but not much had happened outside hospital care. Interestingly, about 50 percent of healthcare spending was actually outside the hospital,” Meena told YourStory.
Sure about wanting to spend her time and energy in a sector that had a lot of challenges, and with the possibility of disrupting it, Meena zeroed in on the healthcare sector, something that she personally cared about and connected with.
A confluence of head and heart
“The healthcare sector not just intellectually interested me, but I was personally and emotionally connected with it, for all the challenges that my parents had to go through,” she adds.
Thus, Portea was founded in July 2013. It curated all healthcare services under one umbrella.
A couple of years later, Meena realised that while curating healthcare services was important, it was only a small part of the problem.
People need someone to help manage their health even when they are healthy. Or if a patient has a chronic disease, they need a partner to hand-hold them throughout their journey. Chronic diseases cannot be fixed by popping a tablet. There is a whole 360-degree intervention and support that people require.
“For someone struggling from a severe disease, like cancer, managing the acute illness goes beyond what the doctor does for the patient. It is about continuous management of the condition, somebody providing them with the mental support and strength that the patient needs, as much as they need medical support. Portea wants to become a part of that journey of a family, rather than providing individual interventions based on health needs. We want to become a health partner or managers. This realisation led to the newer offering solutions of Portea,” says Meena.
Portea, also the name of a rare Brazillian flower, now heavily focusses on general primary healthcare, post-operative and palliative care, chronic diseases, and allied services. It offers home visits from doctors, nurses, nursing attendants, and physiotherapists.
Additionally, Portea also provides a collection of lab samples and offers medical equipment for sale and on hire, bringing the entire gamut of healthcare services to a patient’s doorstep.
So far, Portea has completed more than 3.5 million patient visits across 16 cities across the country. The company manages more than 1,20,000 patient visits each month, partnering with more than 70 hospitals, 15 pharma majors, and insurance companies.
The startup is extensively working on diabetes management right now. On the other hand, it is looking to bring together technology in healthcare in a manner that it becomes meaningful to patients and their families.
(Edited by Suman Singh)