2.4 million Indians die of treatable conditions every year states a study published in the medical journal, The Lancet. And the major cause of these deaths is insufficient healthcare instead of poor quality healthcare. About 1.6 million Indians died in 2016 due to poor quality care which is nearly twice the 838,000 deaths due to non-utilisation of healthcare services.
“If you look at numbers, more people die in the absence of quality healthcare than access. So, we are trying to address this gap by not just making healthcare accessible but also ensuring that it is quality healthcare,” says Bhavjot Kaur, co-founder of Bengaluru-based startup Clinikk. Conceived by friends Kaur and Dr. Suraj Baliga in 2017, Clinikk is an app which provides quality healthcare services to blue collar workers.
Currently, Clinkk’s health services are being availed by 200,000 subscribers across the country.
Clinikk—Helping People Access Primary Healthcare
Ram Jeevan Rai works as a driver for a leading cab aggregation platform in Delhi. The 38-year-old lives in a home in Goladeri village near Dwarka with his wife and four school-going children. With Ram being the only bread earner of the family, health expenses can be a burden on the family budget.
However, since the past one and a half years, his and his family’s primary health care needs are being efficiently addressed at low costs.
“Now, everytime anyone in the family falls sick, all I need to do is call on the Clinikk app. They assign a doctor to me. Once we consult with the doctor, they tell us about our disease and prescribes medicines,” says Ram.
Ram pays about Rs. 500 every month for the primary health care services that he can avail as many times as he wants in a month. Additionally, he says that he gets a discount of at least 20 per cent on the medicines he buys through Clinikk’s app.
Clinikk — Services and Scope
Clinikk provides primary healthcare services along with financial risk protection (health insurance). They have about 100+ healthcare providers on the platform which include general practitioners and specialists who provide round the clock consultations.
The app offers 11 languages to subscribers to choose from. A subscriber gets a health assistant assigned on the basis of their preferred language. Once an individual has signed up for the services, the medical history of the subscriber is carefully collected and profiled for future references. Not only that, the profile of the subscriber’s family also gets created as in the case of Ram Jeevan Rai.
“The whole idea behind collecting this information is to provide efficient, personalised care because in a serious health crisis., we should know how to proceed,” says 32-year-old Bhavjot.
Clinikk services range from Rs. 100 to Rs. 500 per month with healthcare consultation services being unlimited in the month. Once they are Clinikk subscribers, families can also opt for health insurance cover. Based on the cover they choose, prices may vary.
This health insurance cover can be availed by subscribers across 6,000 hospitals in India.
“We feel that healthcare can be a difficult and complicated subject to navigate through. Therefore, we provide the services in such a way that there is a considerable amount of handholding so that the subscribers do not get overwhelmed by the whole process,” explains Bhavjot.
The Founders and their Journey into Healthcare
Bhavjot has a degree in Geological Technology from IIT Roorkee. After college, she worked as a Geoscientist with Royal Dutch Shell for four years. While she was working with them, she was responsible for handling the Operations and Production processes.
Suraj, 32, on the other hand, is an Orthopedic surgeon. He completed his MBBS from Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal and went on to finish his post-graduation from Bangalore Medical College.
Suraj has worked as a medical practitioner in both government and private hospitals. It wasn’t long before he became aware that patients belonging to the lower-middle class of the society had to struggle to access quality primary health care in the country.
This was a major reason that pushed him toward founding the startup.
For Bhavjot, the reason was more personal. She grew up in Assam where her father ran a timber business. At the age of 52, her father was diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. Lack of proper care and timely check ups led to renal complications later.
“Because of diabetes, my father developed renal failure and had to get a kidney transplant. At the time, we were living in Nagaon in Assam. We then had to travel all the way to Chennai for his treatment,” says Bhavjot.
Yet, the travel, stay and medical expenses took a toll on the family. Ultimately, in the absence of health insurance, Bhavjot lost her father.
It was this personal understanding of challenges in healthcare that pushed Bhavjot to found this startup
The Founding of Clinikk
The co-founders first met in Bengaluru in 2014 during the election campaign where Suraj was volunteering for voter registrations. On the other hand, Bhavjot was also helping manage the campaign of one of the candidates in the elections.
As friends, they shared their experiences regarding primary healthcare conditions in India and thought of ways to address the issue.
Initially, Clinikk started out as a technology platform for physicians to remotely monitor recuperating patients after surgeries. This helped identify the red flags and complications earlier so that active intervention could take place when it was necessary.
However, in 2018 the duo realised that the problems in healthcare lies in its access. To address these issues, Clinikk pivoted in March 2018.
Challenges, operations and impact
To reach out to blue collar workers, Clinikk got in touch with several companies who put them in touch with their workers and informed them about the services that they can avail. They currently work with major platforms that have gig economy staff on their platforms.
Despite that, there are a few challenges that the startup has encountered since they began their operations. “I think one of the biggest challenges that we encounter is that people don’t prioritise healthcare. A lot of us only choose to be treated medically when conditions are at their worst,” explains Bhavjot.
Another challenge that they encounter is the problem of recurring payments. “Currently, there is no effective digital tool for recurring payments from the customers, especially for the non-credit card holders as the credit card penetration is extremely low,” says Bhavjot.
Sharing about all they have achieved, Bhavjot says, “The most important metric that we have been able to establish over the last one year is that now 95 per cent of our subscribers reach out to us directly for any serious medical requirements that they might have. This is a clear indicator of rising trust that our subscribers have on us.”
Apart from this, Clinikk also has been able to significantly reduce money spent on healthcare by proactive early intervention. This helps in ensuring that the subscriber’s medical condition is detected and prevented early before it turns into something serious, while keeping the portfolio sustainable and low cost.
For her work in the field of healthcare, Bhavjot has received the ‘Women Entrepreneurship Quest Award’ by AnitaB.Org and Govt. of India.
So, what does Clinikk strive to achieve in the future?
Bhavjot informs that the startup is working on developing AI based services with the help of the medical history they have on every subscriber. The doctor would then examine the patient and order necessary tests which an algorithm suggests.
Once a clear diagnosis is reached, which the machine would aid by taking into account all the past history, previous episodes of illness and response to treatment, a treatment plan is prepared. This treatment plan is suggested using AI and is based on the standard of care and what works best for the patient. The doctor then approves and prescribes the medication.
“At a population level, epidemics could be detected much before they spread widely, superbugs could be avoided based on pooled data of response to treatment,” says Bhavjot.
Clinikk’s main focus is now to reach one million users by December 2020. “‘We are seeing major uptake in our next target industries like Transport and Logistics and manufacturing. We would continue to grow in these industries and perhaps this will help us reach our goal by the end of 2020,” says Bhavjot signing off.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)