How this woman entrepreneur’s app is making healthcare more accessible for India’s elderly
It’s frustrating to wait in a room for hours on end just to receive a few reports or make an appointment with a doctor. It can also be a struggle to quickly retrieve specific reports or prescriptions from files that have been tucked away. When it comes to the elderly, it can be even more challenging.
Their loved ones often have to make time to take them to the doctor every now and then, which may become burdensome.
To make it easier for both the elderly and their loved ones, Neiharika Rajiv launched SuvidaCare in January this year. Through the Suvida app, users can book appointments and have access to all medical reports and prescriptions without any hassle. Although it’s based in Gurugram, its services cater to customers across India.
Suvida Care has been funded by the Government of India under the Standup India scheme.
Speaking to HerStory, Neiharika talks about the app and her journey as an entrepreneur so far.
Technology with a human touch
Once a customer logs into the Suvida app, they are asked to enter the care provider and care recipient’s details, and can then book an appointment up to 24 hours in advance for their loved one and also set reminders for the same.
On the day of the appointment, the care recipient is accompanied by a Suvida Care Manager who takes them to the doctor, sits with them through the consultation, drops them back home, and uploads all the relevant documents on the app for easy access, such as prescriptions, visit summaries, and reports.
Depending on the individual needs of their loved ones, the customer can reach out to the Suvida team for a personalised service pricing plan as well.
“Suvida regularly organises events at resident welfare associations, corporates and public sector undertakings. Most recently, we organised a session at SAIL and PowerGrid where our services received a lot of traction,” Neiharika adds.
The startup also recently tied up with the 7Med dialysis chain, who felt that many of their patients were coming alone and would need the startup’s services. There are a few companies who also opt for corporate packages for their employees’ dependent parents.
“Suvida Care’s customer base is growing through B2B and B2C models. There are companies which are buying our services as a benefit and add-on service. Our target audience is anyone with elderly loved ones who need to visit hospitals regularly, for things like dialysis, pre-op and post-op care, or routine visits,” says Neiharika.
The Suvida Care team is four members strong and has an “ever-expanding” group of care managers.
As the daughter of a civil servant father, Neiharika grew up in different places across India like Assam, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh. She holds two MBAs, one from IMT Ghaziabad and one from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Before venturing into entrepreneurship, she worked at companies like Kotak Mahindra, McKinsey, and Dell. She was also the recipient of ‘XPrize for Women Safety’ for her work with Leaf Innovation Pvt Ltd.
Neiharika launched Suvida Care this year, to help elders who may be left out by an increasing number of nuclear families in India. She says, “Imagine going to dialysis centres and cataract centres and seeing so many elderly alone without support. This visual was disturbing for me to think about.”
Apart from a demographic point of view, Neiharika adds that there is a personal story behind her decision to launch Suvida Care.
“Someone very close to me had a terminal disease and it took the entire family unit for medical visit logistics. I know for a fact that not everyone has that kind of luxury which our family could afford and be available for. So, Suvida Care makes going to the doctor very easy for the elderly, while keeping them self-dependent.”
And while launching a startup can be an exciting journey, it comes with its set of obstacles.
Neiharika says that recruiting Suvida’s care managers has been the most challenging part of setting up. “We as a team need to be very careful while selecting. Our due diligence in making the right choice and hiring the appropriate talent would help Suvida Care sustain longer.”
Another challenge, Neiharika says, was creating a niche in the market because the services offered by her startup are quite new.
Neiharika says her family, parents, and her six-year-old son Viraj, have been by her side throughout the journey. She also says that her team at work is like her family and are dedicated towards establishing Suvida Care as a trusted partner in geriatric healthcare.
Happy customers and heartwarming stories can also be big sources of motivation for entrepreneurs. Recalling one such experience, Neiharika says,
“An elderly woman’s daughter booked a visit with us for post-op care after her mother’s cataract surgery. After our care manager paid her a visit and accompanied her during the course of the day, she began trusting the care manager so much that when her daughter offered to accompany her the next time, she said, ‘No need, Suvida is there’.”
Neiharika is also inspired by the thought of providing the elderly with care, bringing about change in the healthcare system, and ensuring India can service those who need help the most.
The road ahead
Neiharika is currently working on the dialysis and cataract market, and towards making Suvida Care a B2B solution. In the next couple of years, she aims to build her startup as an end-to-end elderly medical coordination partner and user-first EMR (electronic medical record) system, with medical records from all centre combined.
To other entrepreneurs embarking on their startup journey, Neiharika has some short and simple advice:
“Don’t listen to those who doubt your capabilities. Nobody else can achieve the things you can.”
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)