[Startup Bharat] How Bhubaneswar-based Impact Health is looking to disrupt end-to-end healthcare with tech and logistics
India is the largest provider of generic medicines globally, and the Indian pharmaceutical sector supplies over 50 percent of global demand for various vaccines. Globally, India ranks third in terms of pharmaceutical production by volume and 14th by value.
However, despite this, the pharmaceutical supply chain in the country has been underutilised and scattered, according to 23-year-old Anshuman Sahoo.
To solve this problem, Anshuman, along with his friend Ashish Rawat, started Impact Health in 2020. The startup aims to connect end-to-end points in the public healthcare system and make it affordable and accessible for everyone, especially for Tier II, III, and rural India.
The Bhubaneswar-based healthcare logistics and technology startup has created a platform for end-to-end health journey. It has services providers, doctors, pharma companies, and diagnostic labs on its platform. Through its flagship Patient Support Program (PSP), the startup ensures the patient gets diagnosed with a problem and ensures they get follow-up check-ups, medicines, tests, and even injection directly at their doorstep.
“Our programmes are customised to help the clients in their disease-specific intervention on each level. We focus on disease identification and mapping, especially for chronic, severe, and rare diseases, through point of care diagnostics, thereby reducing the cost and time frame for the patient from the disease being identified to being treated,” says Anshuman.
The founders aim to make healthcare accessible, especially for Tier II, III, and rural India, and at the same time make it affordable with quality making it inclusive for everyone.
Background and workings
A business administration graduate from Christ University, Bengaluru, Anshuman was always concerned about public healthcare. He started looking for an entry point and bagged an AIESEC exchange programme in Indonesia - a global youth platform that provided leadership experience through volunteer and internship programmes. During this, he did a lot of research in the space of public health and the issues at the ground level.
After returning to India, Anshuman started working in the space of population health with a startup, where they focused on chronic diseases like asthma, COPD, diabetes, and cardiac failure. During this time, he designed and implemented chronic disease management projects for pharmaceuticals, corporate CSRs in India and abroad including Russia and Uzbekistan to name a few.
In 2019, he met Ashish, a data scientist, in Bengaluru. “We would discuss how we could make healthcare more accessible and affordable,” says 30-year-old Ashish. The conversation led to action, and after a few months of research, the duo started Impact Health in March 2020.
Initially, the co-founders identified that there was no detailed, well-maintained health record of people, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, owing to which it hampers the enhanced qualitative treatment.
“Thus, we came up with a health record. Later, with my expertise and experience in population health as well as guidance from expert physicians, we evolved and created a Patient Support Program (PSP),” says Anshuman.
Illustration: YS Design
The patient support program
“India is a huge market for the healthcare industry. However, the sad thing is that a country capable of supplying medicines and healthcare services to other countries is not able to reach out to the patients in need in India itself,” he says.
Anshuman highlights that to get one injection or a lifesaving drug, a patient has to travel a lot - sometimes it means traveling to other cities as well.
But that could be solved, he says, if a system could help patients detect diseases early and bring pharmaceuticals closer to them. That’s what Bhubaneswar-based 3 PH Solutions LLP, which runs and owns Impact Health, wants to do.
He explains the startup is solving the outreach of pharma to the needy patient and patient’s need for the drug through a value-added service of Patient Support Program, a holistic healthcare service designed to support a patient throughout the journey -- right from disease identification to treatment and adherence.
The PSP also lets Impact Health’s clients like pharmaceutical companies, NGOs, or corporate CSR entities, to map diseases and identify diseases and focus on geographies accordingly.
“Our platform helps all the stakeholders of the healthcare system with early detection and diagnosis of diseases using point of care diagnostics, treatment, and follow-ups using technology, on-site injection and drug administration, patient counselling, and adherence,” says Ashish.
Market and competition
According to the Indian Economic Survey 2021, the domestic pharmaceutical market is expected to grow three times in the next decade and is estimated to reach $65 billion by 2024 from $42 billion in 2021, and further expand to reach $120-130 billion by 2030.
Speaking of competition, Anshuman claims the startup is the first such player in the market, and competes with companies that provide healthcare at home. Some of the major players in the space include 1mg, Practo, DocPrime, mFine, and Netmeds, to name a few.
Responding to a question on how it is different for telemedicine players, Anshuman says that Impact Health’s solution is completely different from other telemedicine platforms. It focuses on disease management through a one-stop solution for the healthcare needs -- be it for the patients or the pharma and CSR entities, and also uses telemedicine as part of the offering. The focus is mainly on the on-ground implementation.
The company runs on both B2C and B2B models. It charges clients like pharma companies and CSR organisations for the cost of project implementation. The company also charges a customised annual fee, inclusive of medical consultations, drug administration, treatments, therapy, follow-ups, and adherences from the direct customers, i.e., patients.
So far, the startup has onboarded 15 doctors from Tier I hospitals to cater to the rural population, especially in parts of Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, UP, Odisha, and some parts of Maharashtra.
“Cumulatively, we have treated close to 600-700 patients for COVID-19 alone as a philanthropy initiative during the second wave. At present, we have one pharmaceutical client in the pipeline for the implementation of patient support program soon after Covid restrictions are eased in the target geography,” says Anshuman.
The founder did not share the price of the services as it is still in early stages.
Anshuman and Ashish invested around Rs 6 lakh initially from their savings to develop the tech models for the startup and to run a pilot project. Being a part of Startup Odisha is now helping them to meet day-to-day operations.
Going forward, the startup is looking to raise a pre-seed investment to design and implement sustainable healthcare models for NGOs and CSR entities, and scale up its team in small towns and rural areas for the PSP with pharma and corporate entities.
Anshuman says there is a huge gap of drugs reaching the patients, owing to which a mechanism of patient support program needs to come into force to ensure healthcare is reaching the needy.
“Our aim is to make healthcare accessible, especially for the Tier II, III, and rural India, and at the same time make it affordable,” he adds.