The plight of the Indian farmer is not new news. Stuck in the debt cycle and falling victim to extreme weather conditions, farmers hardly save enough to address their health issues. According to a Lancet report, healthcare expenditure pushes an additional 39 million people back into poverty in India every year.
“Unfortunately I am not an Infosys or a Wipro board member that I can write a cheque of large amount for the underprivileged. So through my initiative I am doing my bit to give back to the society,” says Ajoy Khandheria, founder of Gramin Health Care, who has so far invested in over a dozen start-ups.
Khandheria however clarifies Gramin is not a non-profit initiative. “It is a misconception that one can’t make money in rural India. As soon as we change consumer behavior in rural India, we will over time find ourselves in a good position to be commercially lucrative as well.”
The start-up follows a digital set-up which handholds the farmer from the primary healthcare centre to the hospital, if required.
Unlike government clinics, it maintains electronic records of the patient for his entire life. Physical examinations are done by the nurses and these data are then uploaded through an electronic health record platform onto the cloud. The doctor examines that and then talks to the patient via teleconferencing. Since the data of the whole family is available on cloud, it make diagnosis of genetic diseases easier.
This process is completely cashless. Gramin provides an annual health card for primary healthcare at a nominal rate of Rs 120 for a family of four. This prepaid card compels the farmer to revisit instead of going to the village doctor, who might be underqualified, says Khandheria.
Gramin Health Care has teamed up with cooperative fertiliser major IFFCO to setting up of primary care centres at IFFCO Bazar outlets at Tier III and Tier IV rural hubs. IFFCO has bought 26 per cent stake in the start-up in return.
From female hygiene, to ECG, blood sugar, hypertension, and eye check-ups, all are treated at these primary health centres. Every 10 primary care centres are supported by one secondary nursing home equipped with a diagnostic laboratory, in-patient facility with basic and skilled nursing care. The services have so far reached over 200,000 farmers and aim to benefit 500,000 rural Indians in a year.
Gramin Health Care, which has been operational since May 2016, has set up over 100 clinics in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar. It employs over 100 nurses and is looking to exhaust these markets in a more robust manner and then move to Punjab, Maharashtra and Gujarat.