Thanks to start-ups who are using disruptive technologies to pioneer a home-based medical care model to address healthcare needs at the comfort of homes, shifting from the traditional hospital-centric delivery platform. Companies have now evolved to provide not only basic healthcare, but also speciality care to those suffering with chronic diseases, and to a largely untapped elderly population at their homes.
Fuelled by the growing burden of chronic diseases in the country, rising demand for elderly care and post-surgery rehab services, companies like Portea Medical, Healthcare at Home, Medwell and India Home Health Care are focussing on a home-based healthcare delivery platform, by providing home visits from doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and offer post-operative, palliative and ICU care.
Home healthcare, an established model in the US is pegged around $80 billion, while in India it is at a nascent stage, estimated around $3 billion, and growing rapidly. Globally, geriatric care accounts for 70% of home healthcare visits.
The potential for the business is huge given the rise in NRIs, nuclear families, an ageing population and those who are working away from home. The demographic target for these start-ups is thus wide, anyone suffering from a chronic disease or even with a basic healthcare issue, in the age group of 45 to 80 years, and older.
“We estimate that roughly 80% of the care that is currently given in the hospital can be delivered in the home setting, with the proper use of technology. Our biggest segments are geriatric care (elder care) and post-operative care (after hospital procedure care). Besides, we are evaluating to bring in personalized medical devices/wearables to India for personalized monitoring of patients at home”, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Portea Medical, K Ganesh told TOI.
The rates charged by these companies range from a single everyday service to long-term care packages, and prices vary between geographies and severity of the disease. The charges are anywhere from Rs 500 a visit for a small service like an injection administration or a wound dressing, Rs 700 – 1000 for a doctor visit, Rs 450 – 650 for a physiotherapist visit, to setting an ICU at home for Rs 7,500 a day which is almost 50% cost effective than the same service being charged in a corporate hospital, the firms claim. Certain firms like Portea and Medwell offer annual subscription packages of Rs 12,000-15,000 too.
Recently, others like CauseforSmile have come up to address the biggest worries of NRIs concerning parents — health, fitness, recreation, as well as social aspects.
Though Portea is focussing on mainly basic healthcare needs, others like Medwell Ventures and Burman family-promoted Health Care at Home will provide speciality home care to patients suffering from chronic ailments.
“Our focus is on providing home health for patients with chronic diseases, and thus supporting the continuum of care to those who generally have very high re-admission rates into hospitals. Some of these patients have ailments like heart failure, COPD, chronic arthritis, post operative surgical site wound management for chronic diabetic patients”, Vishal Bali chairman and co-founder Medwell Ventures said.
There is a huge potential for these kind services, experts say. “But the kind of model, market segment and quality of care on offer would be key to be successful in this space”, says Ajit Mahadevan leader life sciences at Ernst & Young.
Increasingly, mobile telephony, internet and telemedicine is paving the way for innovative treatment and healthcare models, but a majority of the population residing in towns and remote villages, does not have access to even basic medical care in the country.
What these start-ups seem to betting on is the abysmal doctor-patient ratio and low hospital bed density in the country. Besides, “by treating patients at their homes, hospitals can lower costs and become more efficient, and patients also benefit from better health outcomes because they are not exposed to hospital-borne infections”, says Zachary Jones, co-founder Portea Medical said.