Delhi-based health-tech startup DESH Clinic has opened 100 Digitally Enabled Smart Health (DESH) clinics in rural and semi-urban areas across India in 12 months since starting operations in July 2021. The clinics, located in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Bihar, and Jharkhand, comprise India’s first integrated telehealth service. They use digital technology and IoT-based devices to connect doctors in cities with patients in villages and small towns, helping solve the problem of healthcare access.
Said Dr (Maj) Harshita Surange, Founder & CEO, DESH Clinic: “Teleconsultation is the key to rural healthcare as it is difficult to get qualified medical professionals posted in villages and small towns. With DESH clinics, rural patients can benefit from best medical advice at their doorsteps at affordable prices and do not need to travel to cities to seek treatment. They are equipped with diagnostic equipment and IoT-based PoC devices, and provide audio-video consultation, pathology tests, and medicines. The integrated solution includes tele-consultation, pharmacy, diagnostics, and daycare facilities.”
Said Ajay Sharma, Co-founder & COO, DESH Clinic: “We are on target to open 500 DESH clinics across India by December 2023 through the franchising route. Our next phase of growth will focus on North-East where there is a huge unmet need for healthcare services. We aim to work with partners specialized in pathology, radiology and medicine supply, small hospitals, and ambulance providers to enable rural healthcare. A DESH clinic can be started with an investment of as little as Rs 10,000.”
He added: “With DESH clinics, we have established a proven medico-social model for rural healthcare that has attracted global attention. We showcased this model to prominent international health-focused companies and discovered that it can be ported to other developing countries too. We are working with renowned experts in the field, including Patrick Kelahan from New York, Hilario Itriago from Florida and Carlos Miguel from Peru, to explore opportunities in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. We expect an international roll-out of our unique healthcare delivery model in the next few months.”
DESH Clinic is also working on developing SOPs and protocols for pre-during-post hospitalization management of patients. “Since we need to refer large number of patients to nearby hospitals, we are developing a Clinical Care Management Practice which will provide pre-during-post hospitalization support. We have over 50 network hospitals enrolled with us who are providing services to our patients at a discounted rate. We have established set protocols for rural patients to get loans for treatment and support in claim management to enable them to get good quality care.”
Most patients coming to DESH clinics for teleconsultation suffer from conditions like chest pain, trauma, skin-related issues, fever, arthritis, stroke, general weakness, malnutrition, and gastro-intestinal disorders. “We have several general practitioners on our payrolls. The rest, including GPs and specialists, are empaneled from metro cities and tier 2 and 3 towns near to the location of our clinics. Robust quality parameters are applied before empaneling doctors. For serious diseases, the GP at a DESH clinic who does the first consultation refers the patient to city-based specialists. Based on their recommendations, the patient is referred to the nearest network hospital, if required. DESH Clinic will remain focused on tele-consultation for early detection of diseases and triaging to classify cases which can be managed on-line and those that need acute referral to a hospital.”
DESH Clinic offers an ‘assisted tele-consultation’ model in which a trained paramedic stationed at each clinic assists the city-based doctor remotely examine patients and measure vital parameters. Assisted tele-consultation is an important step towards safety and efficacy of the tele-medicine business to scale healthcare to the remotest patient in India.
The DESH clinics are physical-digital hybrid clinics with the required physical infrastructure and support systems, combined with smart, connected diagnostic devices and an app to support video / audio consultation with doctors who may be located hundreds of miles away. The company has created a customized solution with PoC devices that can perform almost all the basic tests required on a patient.
DESH Clinic, a venture of My Family First, is a brainchild of Dr (Major) Harshita Surange (Founder/CEO/Clinical Head); Dr (Major) Pankaj N. Surange (Founder/Academic Head); and Ajay Sharma (Co-founder/COO).