This woman entrepreneur’s startup aims to provide family-like assistance to the elderly in India
Most children staying away from their parents, especially abroad, face a huge conundrum. Thousands of miles away, they worry about elderly parents living alone, with a number of issues associated with ageing. On the other hand, they find it difficult to give up their jobs and move back home for various reasons.
In a country like India, where we are taught to respect and take care of our elders, this guilt gnaws at the heartstrings. Many questions arise. Who will monitor their health? Who will take them to the hospital in case of an emergency? And most importantly: How will they cope?
Shuchita Gupta - Co-founder, Care4Parents
These and many other concerns regarding eldercare prompted Shuchita Gupta to start, a startup that provides a range of healthcare solutions for the elderly in India.
Shuchita says the emphasis is “to put to ease the constant worry lurking at the back of the minds of NRIs, with elderly parents back in India by providing family-like assistance for every small or big healthcare requirement”.
Stemming from a personal experience
Started at the end of last year and based in Delhi-NCR, Care4Parents is rooted in Shuchita’s own experience with her grandfather.
“I always wished I could somehow live closer to him as he lived alone. Though he was in Delhi-NCR, reaching his home would take anywhere between one to two hours,” she recalls.
“There were times when I had to make sudden trips for much needed co-ordination – domestic support, local vendors, doctors, etc. This made me wonder what elderly people like him and so many others would do, in such scenarios. On another occasion, a friend had to rush down from the US as her mother was not feeling well. She was looking at options to connect a basic parameter reading machine to the internet so that she could monitor it on regular basis from US,” she adds.
All these incidents strengthened her belief in providing a long-term solution to address the problems of the elderly living alone in India.
Shuchita has had an illustrious career before deciding to start up. Working at CXO levels with startups like adda52, indiagifts,etc. provided her a lot of learning ground, not only in terms of managing her practice as consultant CFO, but also in terms of how startups begin, grow, function and how technology was bringing efficiency in processes or how services could get delivered to users in the comfort of their house.
She wondered why technology efficiencies and ease of services could not be used for elder care. While discussing this with Dr Aman Khera, her co-founder, Care4parents was a natural consequence. Shuchita had earlier worked as adviser for Dr Khera’s Pinkshashtra Health Solutions.
For all healthcare needs
While aiming to be a like a family member to elderly people living alone, Care4Parents provides a one-stop shop for all their healthcare needs. Its in-house doctor and customer care personnel help them in fixing video consultations with doctors with either their own or through the startup’s partner hospitals. It keeps all health records on the digital platform and maintains a health summary that can be shared with doctors.
Shuchita explains, “The idea is to increase patient engagement. A doctor currently has no/very little previous history about a patient during OPD and post-OPD; there is no follow-up or keeping track. The Care4parents team shares details about the customer with the doctor before the consultation, so that the quality of interaction improves.”
Care4parents also provides for monthly recording and analysis of vital parameters through an at-home device, which includes blood pressure, blood sugar, SpO2, temperature and ECG. All the readings are available on the digital platform. The medical history is maintained on cloud, for access anytime, anywhere.
Moreover, the team assists in physical hospital visits by hand-holding elders through the hospitalisation process, including paperwork, previous reports etc. “We have tie-ups with reputed hospitals like Max, Artemis, Paras, Global Health City Chennai, Manipal Hospitals, Shroff Eye Centre, Dr Lal Path Labs etc. to name a few. These hospitals provide dedicated relationship managers who ensure that the elders are looked after well,” she adds.
The services have been bundled into three packages; basic, gold, and platinum, for ease of the customers. Additionally, value-added services such as adult home care, medicine delivery, physiotherapy at home, investigations like ultrasounds, X-Rays, CT Scan/MRI, blood tests (collection of samples from home),vaccination at home, specialist doctor consults through video calls are also provided.
While Shuchita says it’s too early to talk about ups and downs, she is happy with the response to the startup throughout India.
“I live in Japan and when my father suddenly had a brain stroke, we got in touch with Care4parents to help look after him at home. They made all necessary arrangements, including a physiotherapist and doctor visits. Living away from family, I feel relieved that we have a trustworthy nurse supporting my sisters and family in India,” says one of their customers living in Japan.
While companies like Portea, Emoha, NRI360, Clinikk, care.fit, Healthians, Health Assure, Online MediConsult are its competitors, Shuchita believes that “healthcare, in general, and healthcare for elders in particular is a hugely underequipped and underserved market. There is enough work for all the players involved”.
Tech for health
Care4Parents has received angel funding and is now exploring other funding options.
“We are a five-month-old startup at the MVP stage (minimum viable product). We will continue to build on it, step by step, at the speed and pace at which we can spend resources. Real success and challenges will come as we gain scale. Like any startup, the initial challenge is customer acquisition. As we scale, we will experience different challenges at different stages,” Shuchita says.
Despite all the usual challenges of setting up the venture, COVID-19 threw some personal challenges in terms of restricted physical movement. “Finding the ‘right’ team, setting up office, everyone coming to office, meeting investors virtually; all has been a challenge. And we have braved it out, like many others. It also taught us that much can be achieved through video calls as well. This helped us to expand our presence nationwide, through our partner hospitals and healthcare institutions, much more quickly than we had envisaged,” she adds.
The startup is in talks with RWAs, corporates, senior citizen associations, NRI associations etc. for bulk enrolment of their members and hopes that use of technology for primary healthcare and electronic health records will become a way of life.
Shuchita says women are born multitaskers and should take advantage of this fact. “We bring a certain creativity and personal touch into everything we do and naturally, tend to be more patient, good listeners, restorative, good at ideation, connectedness, and individualisation. So, don’t be afraid to experiment, fail, get up, succeed, and repeat.”