Delhi-based health-tech startup My Family First intends to open 500 Digitally Enabled Smart Health (DESH) clinics in rural areas across the country in the next two years to connect patients in remote villages and towns with medical specialists in metro cites. The company, that began operations in mid-2021, has already opened 30 DESH clinics across Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Madya Pradesh through the franchising route.
The DESH Clinics comprise India’s first integrated telehealth service. These use digital technology and IoT-based devices to directly connect doctors in cities with patients in the rural hinterland, solving the problem of scarcity of qualified doctors in villages and semi-urban regions. Patients can benefit from best medical advice right at their doorsteps at affordable prices and do not need to travel to cities.
Said Dr. (Maj) Harshita Surange, Founder & CEO, DESH Clinics: “Teleconsultation is the key to rural healthcare. DESH clinics are equipped with diagnostic equipment and IoT-based PoC devices. They are specially designed to provide audio-video consultation, conduct pathology tests, and dispense medicines. These offer an integrated solution that includes tele-consultation, pharmacy, diagnostics, and daycare facilities. The clinics connect patients with specialists in areas like ENT, fertility, skin diseases, heart diseases, back pain, chronic pain, and cancer. Child specialists, gynecologists and obstetricians are also available for tele-consultation.”
She added: “Rural areas are unable to harness the best of doctors through the telemedicine facilities currently available. The conventional telemedicine model requires a tweak. DESH clinics go a step ahead and offer an ‘assisted tele-consultation’ model. A trained paramedic stationed at each clinic assists the city-based doctor remotely examine patients and measure their 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. DESH clinics also allow networking with existing hospitals to support tertiary-level care, allowing them to manage hospitalization needs of their patients.”
Said Ajay Sharma, Co-founder and COO, DESH Clinics: “We are on an aggressive growth path and have chosen the franchise model for rapid expansion. We would be opening 500 DESH clinics by the end of 2023 at the rate of 15-20 new clinics each month. Anyone with qualifications in pharmacy, medical lab technology, GNM, ANM, and trained health workers can own and run a DESH clinic with an investment of only Rs 2 lakhs. We have also launched a starter pack for new entrepreneurs. Anyone having a suitable space for consultation and a smartphone can start DESH Sahyogi clinics with an investment of only Rs 5,000. They can upgrade to a higher level of clinic infrastructure later.”
He added: “The DESH Clinics model would create opportunities for small-town entrepreneurs and youth and provide them a steady source of income. Talks are also on with some angel investors and the CSR wing of corporates who are willing to come onboard for the cause of extending healthcare access for rural population. In addition, we are beginning an entrepreneur development program to support trained health workers. With its mission to promote capacity building, DESH clinics will work with existing healthcare training institutes to select a few students who will be trained further to run their own clinics under this model.”
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.
When patients arrive at a DESH clinic, trained para-medic staff collects information about their health condition, enters it into a mobile app and arranges tele-consultation with a doctor located in a city like Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru. The paramedic staff conducts pathology tests, if required, and uploads the report to be analyzed by the doctor. The doctor writes the prescription, which is printed and given to the patient, who can then take medicines from the clinic’s pharmacy or anywhere else.
DESH Clinics, 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).