Also published on Medium.
In our last Insights, we took a basic look at the Odisha healthcare system with context from the state of healthcare in India overall. We’ve observed that both the national government and state government are looking to improve the current system. However, there are also many founders that don’t want to wait. Here are some of the founders that are taking action in Odisha:
1. CyCo Onco Solutions
CyCo Onco Solutions, lead by Nusrat Mobassara Sanghamitra, aims to reduce the side effects of chemotherapies via intracellular delivery. The company has developed, “a molecular nanomachine as a high speed, high precision drug delivery device. Our device works like a molecular drilling machine and carries drugs across the cell membrane as you carry your luggage through automatic doors”(CyCo Onco Solutions Company Website).
This ‘patient-centered’ biotechnology startup was founded in Bhubaneswar over in March 2017. CyCo is looking to fund its mission by focusing on the live cell imaging market which sees relatively little regulation related barriers to entry. CyCo recently won the 2018 National Award for Technical Start-up of the Year.
MedTel Healthcare looks to, “address bottlenecks in healthcare system through digitization of healthcare services, bringing urban specialty healthcare services to rural areas”(MedTel Company Website). According to their website:
MedTel works on less [sic] ownership model (B2B2C) by opening virtual health clinics (Telehealth Pods) with diagnostic kits (i.e. Blood Pressure, Monitor, Blood Sugar Monitor, Thermometer, Weighing Scale & other strip based tests). Here patients get specialist doctors consultation on demand basis.
Furthermore, MedTel combines technical know-how with personal touch; its cloud-based platform is designed to be mobile-friendly, but the company also uses a microentrepreneur model to set up its pods. MedTel recently closed a pre-Series A funding round from a joint program run by the British and Indian government.
Former WiPro employee, Jayakishor Bhanja, is another founder tackling the issue of access to specialized services in rural areas of India. His Bangalore-based company, HealthBot, is building smart clinics in rural areas.
With two clinics in Odisha’s Ganjam District, HealthBot offers consultations for Rs 150 in which it takes diagnostic tests and connects patients with specialists.
4. Prantae Solutions
Prantae Solutions is lead by Dr. Sumona Karjee Mishra, a PhD in Biotechnology. The firm aims to “create affordable technologies for rare and neglected disorders by translating state-of-art interdisciplinary research into medical devices and interventions”(Prantae Company Website). In particular, Prantae is focused on creating low cost medical devices to treat the pregnancy disorder, Preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension).
In support of its mission to develop platforms for diagnostic laboratories and sensitive, modular, portable devices for point of care and self-health monitoring device segment, Prantae Solutions has received the following grants: Tata-Trust Harvard-SAI IITD Social Entrepreneurship Grant (2016), MSME Entrepreneurship development Grant (2017), DST-NIDHI-PRAYAS Grant (2017).
There are several trends that we believe are especially important. Unsurprisingly, a major focus of healthcare startups is access; rural Odisha has some of the worst patient-to-doctor ratios in the country. According to News Odisha, sources in the Odisha government “say the state has only one doctor for 13,154 patients in rural Odisha against the national average of 1:1668”(News Odisha), whereas the minimum World Health Organization standard is 1:3500.
Furthermore, these companies are very clearly demonstrating that having sustainable social impact while also making money is possible. However, there is a more significant point to recognize. Sometimes social enterprises are seen as being impactful despite the fact that they earn profit. But the reality is that many social enterprises are so impactful because of their hybrid business models.For example, it is very difficult for traditional service nonprofits in Odisha to scale their services as overheads often scale faster. However, technology-driven enterprises enjoy the benefit of lower variable costs, and as a result, can use mechanisms like venture capital funding to grow even faster.
We believe we’ll continue to see startups creating mobile platforms given the ubiquity of mobile devices, however, the use of microentrepreneurs is also key. eKutir, a Bhubaneswar-based social enterprise and one of OSA Impact’s key partners, has pioneered the use of this model. eKutir has found the model especially valuable when operating in rural areas where villagers often view companies with suspicion, and therefore, social enterprises need to ensure they have buy-in from local leaders. Working with village-level entrepreneurs not only provides credibility, but also access and granular information about the needs of locals.
CyCo Onco Solutions Company Website. http://www.cycaonco.com/about.php#
NXT Startup. MedTel Healthcare Startup Secures Series Funding.
Phar-East. CyCa OncoSolutions — An India Oncology Drug Delivery BioTech Company.
PwC. State of Healthcare in India.
Telegraph India. Honour for Balasore Woman.
VCCircle. Digital health startup MedTel raises pre-Series A funding.