The $1-million Hult Prize winning alumni team of ISB is hopeful their healthcare innovation targeting the bottom-of-the-pyramid would attract investor interest.
Having registered their business, the five-member team is keen on launching the operations of NanoHealth before January next year. The innovation is in various stages of pilot testing now.
To start with, Hyderabad-headquartered Nano Health would focus on the creation of adequate trained human capital, cloud technology and procurement electronic devices to seamlessly track the urban poor at risk of chronic diseases across the 1,400 notified slums in Hyderabad.
For the IT cloud platform, the social venture has tied up with city-based GVK Biosciences’ proprietary HEART (Health Emphasised Analytical and Reporting Tool) platform — a cloud-based healthcare analytics framework with multiple applications.
“They supported us with some initial funding for our pilot and are also developing our entire IT infrastructure,” says NanoHealth CEO Manish Ranjan on the tie-up
The solution targets three problems faced by urban slums — underdiagnosis, the right doctor to approach and compliance issues.
However, its key challenge is to train and deploy the massive network of community healthcare workers, which it is calling ‘Saathi’, which again requires a certain level of funding and has a long gestation period on the return-on-investment consideration.
Says Ranjan, maintaining them is a huge challenge, and they plan to overcome this with global funds. “The more the funding, the faster we would be able to scale,” he says. For training them, it was working with HMRI, which is supported by Piramal Foundation.
In the run-up to the Hult challenge, the team received mentoring from Devi Shetty of healthcare chain Narayana Hrudayalaya.
Key to its success is the slum population’s access to Saathi. Picked from the community and trained to serve them, saathi is the backbone to NanoHealth's operations. “Our vision is to create a network of community workers in urban areas that can be used to disseminate any kind of healthcare programmes of government and the private sector,” according to Ranjan.
The trained saathis, equipped with doctor-in-a-box device, will diagnose and counsel the slum individuals for chronic diseases (here blood pressure and diabetes) which are available for the doctor’s observation real-time. The device helps them capture the individual’s vitals and detect symptoms to identify the risk propensity for chronic diseases. The company has tied up with a Chennai-based manufacturer for designing the devices.
While NanoHealth plans to run two healthcare camps in a particular slum, where it would capture the individual’s current state of health, Saathi, tasked to work six-days-a-week, would help avoid emergencies and liaison the patient and the doctor panelled to the slum. “Our goal is to reduce emergencies. And our saathis can be reached by the slum population all-time,” Ranjan says.
Team member, Ashish Bondia, who has seven years of experience as a primary-care physician, and is currently practising healthcare management at ISB, says, “$1-million of investment is not available for a social entrepreneurship in the country.” This is primarily due to lack of interest from stakeholders, he added.
While the doctor services are incentivised considering the long-term benefits for them from the increased patient visits, NanoHealth plans to charge Rs 90 a month for its monitoring and counselling services, per individual.
It expects breakeven when a saathi worker effectively engages with 60 individuals in the slum. Over a period of time, NanoHealth plans to add more diseases. On its radar are the urban slums of Bengaluru and Chennai.