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Healthcare infrastructure is reportedly skewed in India with 70% of the hospitals serving 30% of the population. Post-pandemic, healthcare has now become the top priority for the people across the globe and has resulted in the growing demand of smart technology and hybrid models to solve the existing need gaps in the healthcare sector. After witnessing this gap for a basic necessity and the growing demand of door-step healthcare services, Priyadarshi Mohapatra thought of launching CureBay for marginalised spaces in the country.
According to the founder Priyadarshi Mohapatra, CureBay was conceptualised with a thought of creating access to high-quality and affordable healthcare to underserved and remote rural locations. The model is an innovative hybrid model focussed on solving for the last mile in primary healthcare services.
“We have invested extensively in our research work and our findings encouraged us to establish an operational model to increase efficiency and reduce costs in providing primary healthcare services to those who need it. Research clearly showed that while smartphone penetration in rural India is quite good, people use it mostly for consuming entertainment. Our model is based on leveraging technology but designed for assisted healthcare, we have asset light e-clinics in remote districts with at least two trained professionals who are physically present to guide the patients in connecting with the doctors,” said Priyadarshi.
It is quite evident that the entire world is behind artificial intelligence and its upcoming possibilities. The adaptation of AI integration can be seen in the healthcare system too. Artificial intelligence (AI) has a lot of advantages over traditional mainstream healthcare and clinical decision-making techniques. AI has created new opportunities for the healthcare industry.
While speaking about the use of AI in CureBay, the founder explained that, “The company leverages telehealth services, Internet of Things (IoT) adaptive technological solutions, medical-grade devices like an HD ultra-portable device with a diagnosis camera. We use internet services to connect doctors with in-need patients; keep detailed digital records to reduce any likelihood of making mistakes while prescribing drugs; and get reservations in case of emergency.”
He further pointed out that proliferation of AI does not mean decrease in the need of healthcare professionals. AI is a tool to help and enhance the ability for trained professionals to better understand everyday patterns and requirements of people and then use that understanding to give people the best feedback and guidance to treat patients.
Revealing more about the company’s mode of operations and services, Priyadarshi Mohapatra elucidated the significant amenities of CureBay. Among many such assistance, the founder specifically spoke about the e-Clinics. In his words, “E-clinics are physical centres in remote locations (where in 5 to 10 km radius no proper healthcare facility are there) designed for assisted healthcare. Our staff in the e-Clinic helps capture patient data using medical grade devices and assist the doctor in consultation. Post consultation we are also able to assist in fulfilling medicine and diagnostic tests as recommended by the doctor. In case a tertiary requirement is there, our eClinics act as an information centre to transparently share information on availability of beds and doctors at the best commercial offer, thereby disintermediating any brokers. The idea is to simulate the physical experience and deliver high quality and affordable healthcare in the remotest corners of the country through an assisted hybrid model.” The company has currently 17 e-Clinics operating across different districts in Odisha and has also plans to add 5-6 e-Clinics every month.
Similarly, as a result of the pandemic, another trend that has been gaining popularity in the healthcare system is the online consultation. The pandemic has changed the healthcare system forever as it brought on digital health technologies and helped the rise of healthcare startups that enabled smooth transitioning to online healthcare.
Elaborating on this development, the CureBay founder said that, “While research and development in the area were always in the works, the pandemic helped us channel the resources to get those major breakthroughs in this area that we desperately needed. Research shows that telehealth and online consultations drastically surged during the pandemic as patients were forced to find alternative ways to safely access healthcare and healthcare professionals had to find ways of delivering healthcare safely.”
With reference to a report by McKinsey that stated even after the lockdown ended, Mohapatra further said that, “Telehealth use had increased by 38 times from the pre-pandemic baseline in 2021. Online healthcare survived even after the pandemic because it solves various problems like social distancing, contact with between caregivers, distributing patient data, medical teaching, and sharing scientific results that has merit even if we are not in a perpetual lockdown. All this has helped bring the remote locations a little closer to mainstream healthcare.”
With the healthtech industry rapidly growing, players in the area are also growing with various healthtech startups and online services. Keeping all these positively-growing phases of the healthcare ecosystem in one side, Mohapatra also disclosed the competition existing in the space. According to him, while there is already stiff competition from big pathology chains which offer bulk services with competitive pricing, none of these platforms try to connect their patients with doctors from well-known hospitals or have any trained professionals present in remote locations for immediate check-ups.
“CureBay is focused on forging real-time interpersonal relationships with human values through the satellite e-clinics so that the primary healthcare services can be provided to the underprivileged and marginal sections of the society. Instead of asking people to navigate through complicated health apps on their own, CureBay offers an easier and efficient alternative with a promise of holistic healthcare service which includes diagnosis, treatment, consultations, pharmacy and even hospitalisations when required. This thorough and all-around approach to patient care and treatment is what sets the company apart from its competitors,” he stated.
In order to tackle these highly competitive tensions, Mohapatra advised the beginners in this ecosystem that, “If you are someone who is planning to start their journey in this sector then I would say that you need to have conviction in your vision and plan long term. There are people who are willing to take the extra steps for good healthcare. If you focus on giving them the right tools to access primary healthcare safely and affordably, then your idea will be accepted. The key is to build your business from the perspective of the people who need these services the most. Every challenge you face while building your vision has to be solved from that perspective in mind.”
Being one the most prominent players in the space, CureBay is planning to expand their healthcare services across the state by creating more e-clinics and physical setups in various cities. There is a plan to build 5-6 clinics every month and reach remote locations that do not have access to quality healthcare services. As of 2023, the plan is to create over 100 more e-clinics in the next one year so that the company’s network and presence can become stronger in the remotest districts of Odisha and engineering states.
“Eventually, we want to become the largest primary healthcare provider in the country,” Priyadarshi Mohapatra expressed hopefully.
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