Being son of a doctor, I saw healthcare from very close quarters but the fact that it kept my father so busy, I chose the easy way out, become an engineer! After finishing 4 eventful years at IIT, the only goal for me was to land up in a good job. While at IIT, as creativity flows, I did come up with an idea for a non-stop transportation system, and shared that with my friends and they couldn’t stop making fun of me for next 3 days. That self-consciousness and fear was enough for me to not pursue on the idea. 10 years later when I sent a link showing a prototype and a patent on the same idea, guess what my friends did, laughed at me again! This time for me not having the conviction to pursue my idea. I believe they were right.
For 10 years, I worked at a supply chain company where I would work towards optimizing processes for large corporations and reap the benefits of the efficiencies created. Each time I would come back to Ara to my dad’s hospital, I felt there was a lot of improvement that can be done in the hospital, and potentially in the healthcare industry at large. There is always going to be a glaring gap between the number of doctors and the people who need doctors, and only systems and optimal processes can potentially bridge that gap. I would keep pestering my dad to implement some of these processes at his hospital, until one day he said, “Son, I am a doctor please let me do my job! You seem to be a manager why don’t you do your job!” That day changed my life. I realised that if I want to see something happen, I’ll have to take the responsibility and work towards it. With a goal to improve the healthcare industry, I joined Indian School of Business to study Healthcare Management.
There is always going to be a glaring gap between the number of doctors and the people who need doctors, and only systems and optimal processes can potentially bridge that gap.
While at ISB, I came across the HULT Prize competition. The HULT prize is awarded to students that have a vision and capability to solve some of the most pressing problems of the world today. The challenge at hand that year was to solve the problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at scale, focusing on the bottom of the pyramid. If you look around all health systems across the world, solving the problem of rising NCDs is a growing concern. The challenge, along with the opportunity of support from the likes of President Bill Clinton, Muhammad Younus and a $ 1 Million award to seed fund the project seemed a compelling opportunity to kick start the healthcare dream.
After six months of intense preparation across various fronts, ideation, testing the idea and scalability, building the right team and honing the pitch, we won the Hult Prize 2014 amongst 11,000 competitors worldwide! This was the first time an Indian team had won the Hult Prize. Very soon I realized responsibility of having a million dollars to change the world. Not that the money was less but suddenly the vision became so much bigger.
The challenge of solving NCDs is truly herculean. NCDs, popularly called as silent killers are often asymptomatic in nature- which means a person doesn’t realise when he/she starts to develop it, hence missing the opportunities for early treatment and care. It is no surprise that NCDs are the biggest health problems of our generation when you get to know that 2/3rd of all the deaths today are caused by NCDs, and there is greater than 25% chance of everyone in Indian sub-continent to die out of an NCD than any other reason. You are amazed even more when you get to know that medicines for these diseases are existing for more than two to three decades but still the number of people suffering and dying out of these diseases are increasing year after year! Clearly, the barrier is not advancement in medicine, it is only the reach of the healthcare systems to the right people at the right time.
If you look at the current health system- there are two main words that come out. It is reactive– which means that when a person feels something is very wrong is when they seek care. There is not much of an incentive and trigger to seek care in a consistent and meticulous way to prevent possible diseases. It is thus reactive and not proactive. The second aspect of the health system is that it is fragmented– which means multiple health providers in the system operate in individual silos with little or no interaction with each other. It is upon the users to find the right providers and get the right treatment, with little or no accountability from the providers on improving health outcomes. This type of a health system did well in treating communicable diseases like malaria, dengue etc. which needed acute treatment. But with the changing demographic into conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity that require “continuous”, potentially lifelong care, the health system fails.
If you look at the current health system- there are two main words that come out. It is reactive– which means that when a person feels something is very wrong is when they seek care.
This led us to build NanoHealth. The NanoHealth solution offers a unique combination of human touch and technology to do two things – at first identify people at an early stage who require more care and ensure that the care they require is delivered in a way that is continuous, convenient and measurable. My prior experience helped me design and develop a system that ensures scalability of the solution and that personalized care is not affected even when number of people using it increases to millions.
Today NanoHealth has reached out to over 70,000+ people with measurable impact on human lives and communities at large. An independent study conducted by the Indian School of Business on our existing users shows reduced blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Despite the amazing impact, we continue to struggle to convert the latent need of proactive and continuous care to a realised demand. Three years feel like eternity and we go through so many challenges each day it can be quite daunting. But the amount of support, encouragement and conviction I got from people within NanoHealth, our mentors who have given their precious time and guidance continuously, professors from my alma-mater that support NanoHealth in ways I couldn’t ask for, has given me the boost to keep moving forward. We want to see NanoHealth serving millions of people, and helping millions of their families in their journey towards better health. In this fast-paced world where success seems immediate, where gratification is expected to be instant, I go back to the words of what a professor at ISB once told me “It is better to succeed late than to fail early”! This has been an important and consistent life lesson for me.