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9 months

Trio’s ‘Uber for Healthcare’ Aims to Make Hospital Visits Easier in India

Kerala-based startup ‘Mykare Health’ was founded by Senu Sam, Rahmathulla T M, and Joash Philipose with the aim of building India’s largest affordable healthcare network.

Trio’s ‘Uber for Healthcare’ Aims to Make Hospital Visits Easier in India

When Sunil (name changed) from Thiruvananthapuram was diagnosed with multiple anterior lipomas — fatty lumps that appear on the neck, chest and shoulders, he was told they would need surgical excision. Needless to say, he was worried. He pictured the tough road that lay ahead — contacting a good surgeon, getting his insurance papers ready, and of course, the anxiety that accompanies the above.

Sunil is fine today.

Ask him about his experience, and he recalls it to be one of the most seamless and affordable he has had. He credits a Kerala-based healthcare startup for his calm nerves throughout the procedure and even later.

The cofounder of Mykare Health, Senu Sam is elated when he hears stories like these. He sees it as a culmination of the goals of the startup, which was launched to provide people in South Indian Tier 1 and 2 cities with access to hassle-free services when it comes to planned, non-emergency surgeries.

The startup does this through a unique model that takes care of the patient’s needs from the first to the last touch point, ensuring they are in good hands. Recovery and rest must be the only things on the patient’s mind, they believe.

As The Better India catches up with Senu and the co-founders Rahmathulla T M and Joash Philipose — all in their mid-30s and hailing from Kerala — it is fascinating to note how personal experience intertwined with their tech prowess led them to launch a one-of-a-kind healthcare initiative.

Necessity is the mother of invention

A stint of 13 years in the healthcare space as head of sales, introduced Senu to two things — a blaring need for introducing tech into the sector and two people who shared his mindset. Oblivious that one of them would rise to CTO at Mykare and the other would share his expertise as chief product officer, they became fast friends.

Years later, as they bend their heads together over ideas of scaling Mykare Health, Senu says their expertise is unparalleled.

What sets the initiative apart from other healthcare startups is the hand-holding that patients are assured of, right from getting in touch with the right surgeon to the planning of the surgeries — including orthopaedic and vascular care, urology, proctology, laparoscopic procedures, ophthalmology and cosmetic surgery.

Recalling his hassle when his father was unwell when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Senu says Mykare Health is designed in a way that no patient should have to go through the same.

“My family back in my hometown was worried as my father had to undergo surgery,” he shares. “Though we managed to locate a hospital and a doctor who would do the surgery, I noticed there were so many gaps. There was no way I could check the doctor’s background, see if his expertise lay in the surgery he was about to do on my dad, or even get a clear idea of the pricing of the entire procedure or be assured of the amount that would be reimbursed through insurance.”

This led Senu to draw parallels with how the lower middle class were deprived of basic healthcare features. Having worked in the healthcare space in metropolitan cities, Senu knew the above would be non-negotiable for the urban rich.

“I realised there were so many people who were at the mercy of hospitals and doctors that they had no choice other than to take what they were given,” he notes. An intense desire to create something that would solve these looming problems, coupled with a zeal for entrepreneurship, led Senu to come up with the idea of a healthcare startup.

The months ahead were fraught with research and pinpointing the exact problems that needed attention.

Mykare Health — a patient’s best friend

On his main reason for spearheading Mykare Health, out of all the other sectors he could tap into, Senu says, “I’ve realised that ‘care’ is missing in healthcare for the middle and lower income class in India. Through Mykare Health, I want to bring it back.”

His surveys in the next few months introduced him to the larger issues that he needed to work on to create a dent in the healthcare industry.

“I went to over 50 hospitals in South India to observe how things worked and what patient care looked like. I can say the majority of them are unorganised and unbranded. They lacked visibility. So, the treatment journey is fragmented and filled with a lot of operational inefficiencies. It is not that these hospitals are bad. It is just that they have to uplift the patient care. I understood that if I could build a demand for these small and medium-sized hospitals, and give seamless experience for the patients, I could create opportunity,” he explains.

Joash shares this view. “The current healthcare system creates significant barriers for patients, doctors, and hospitals alike leading to numerous challenges, including reduced quality of care, unnecessary delays, and lack of transparency.”

Mykare Health is attempting to pitch in and do things differently.

Presently, the startup follows a stringent vetting process while onboarding doctors. Their qualifications are reviewed and background checks are conducted. For the selected hospitals too, the procedure is the same. An examination of registration documents and online feedback is reviewed and checked against the set of 30 parameters that Mykare Health has in place. These include the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare (NABH) certificate.

Mykare’s overarching aim is to ease the patient’s journey and build India’s largest healthcare network at an affordable cost. They do this by assuring the patient of saving up to 30 percent on their surgery expenses and postoperative care. The startup’s tie-ups with NBFCs and fintech platforms enable patients to get zero-interest loans too.

Artificial intelligence greatly helps to fine-tune the processing with the auto-updated dashboard and real-time updates.

From the first to last touchpoint

Elaborating on the model, Senu says a patient can select the city and the procedure they are looking for on the Mykare Health platform. “The pre-medical counselling team will then call the patient to understand their requirements and then pass the patient details to the medical counselling team. This team will call the patient to ease them of any worries regarding the surgery.”

Senu came across a report that suggested that 70 percent of patients do not undergo surgery because of the fear of it. “These fears are because of several things. We want to ease them,” Senu emphasises.

Once the patient’s documents and reports are in place, a consultation is arranged with the doctor who will be performing the surgery. Rahmathulla explains that to add a personal touch to the digital platform, they have introduced dedicated care coordinators ‘KareBuddy’ within the Mykare Health ecosystem.

“These individuals become reliable points of contact, offering personalised guidance and support throughout the treatment. Acting as advocates for the patients, they assist with appointment scheduling, clarify medical information, and ensure seamless coordination among healthcare providers.”

On the day of the appointment, one of the care coordinators reaches the patient’s house, picks them up in a cab and takes them to the doctor, who will address all their questions and concerns.

The next step is insurance.

Senu recalls an incident of a delivery agent who was suffering from piles and needed surgery but his insurance was rejected.

“The agent’s long hours on the bike worsened it. But the insurance company wanted to reject his claim as on the day of admission he had not done any deliveries,” he adds.

These are the anomalies in the system.

Mykare has an in-house insurance team that decodes all the fine print of insurance before surgery and conveys the reimbursement the patient can expect. “If someone has a money crunch, we assure them zero cost EMI. There is complete transparency through the process.”

Once everything is in place, the confirmation documents are sent to the patient in their local language. Once again, on the day of the surgery, the patient is picked up and taken to the hospital. Following discharge, the care coordinator drops them back home. A follow-up visit ensues in a month by an in-house doctor.

Until now, Mykare Health has been associated with 250 hospitals in 12 cities in South India and has 75 doctors as part of their team. They have counselled over one lakh patients and seen over 14,000 surgeries.

Hailing from a Tier 3 village in Kerala, having such a lofty vision wasn’t easy. “Entrepreneurship was a distant dream,” shares Senu. But looking at the amazing journey that lies ahead, he smiles with pride at what he has been able to create.

Edited by Pranita Bhat

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