Indian Tech start up transforms rural health care through the power of technology

Indian Tech start up transforms rural health care through the power of technology

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iKure is a rapidly growing tech start up, providing primary healthcare across rural, semi urban and urban populations in India. The companys business model is composed of a unique combination of health outreach initiatives, skills development and technology-based interventions, promising to empower 5000 health entrepreneurs and deliver affordable health care to 25 million people across 11 Indian States.

Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$10 per day in purchasing power (in 2015 dollars) as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. Over 225 companies, ranging from multinationals to social enterprises, and working in 70 countries, have responded to the BCtA by committing to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions in developing countries through access to markets, financial services, affordable healthcare, water and sanitation, education and other critical services.

Rural health is a global challenge, not only because primary health services are generally not accessible or affordable to rural communities, but also because of the lack of capacity to implement programmes that address rural health care needs in a harmonized and holistic way.

In India, 70 percent of the rural population (or over 840 million people) are served by less than 30 percent of the countrys combined medical force. This means there is one doctor per 19,000 people on average. Many families simply have no access to health care or are forced to rely on unreliable treatment plans and unqualified practitioners. Access to health care in rural communities is further complicated by long distances, lack of infrastructure, lack of education and poverty.

iKure addresses these challenges by operating through a hub-and-spoke clinic model, where a core medical team utilizing modern procedures and equipment are stationed at hub clinic. Trained community health workers, who are selected and trained from each village, then visit peripheral clinics (spokes) on a regular basis and provide reliable access to on-site general medicine, maternal and child health care, eye care, telemedicine services, and pathology services to cater to the demand of specific diseases. After six months in the programme, community health workers become self-sustaining entrepreneurs, who generate income through selling and promoting products from the iKure supply chain.

Technology forms a key part of iKures impact, as it enables patient information to be captured by community health workers on point-of-care devices offline. The information is uploaded to cloud storage when health workers return to web-connected areas. This process facilitates early diagnosis and tertiary linkages otherwise non-existent in Indias remote settings. Equipped with this information, iKure analyzes the root causes of ailments and addresses them holistically through combination of health and hygiene, nutrition and other aspects. By doing this, iKure creates an ecosystem of spokes clinics for diagnosis and minor treatments, hospitals for secondary and tertiary care and research organisations for clinical and technical knowhow of various ailments.

Our holistic approach towards health is supported by community-based interventions that are able to adapt to the different language, culture, diet, political power, literacy rates, ethnicity, employment and health services that exist in each area. This way, we are able to meet local needs as defined by the local community, said ikure CEO Sujay Santra.

iKures model offers a three-layered approach that impacts the health and wellbeing of the individual patient, empowers community members as entrepreneurs and connects stakeholders at a global level to deliver future outcomes in rural health, said Paula Pelaez, Head of Business Call to Action.

About the author

CSR VISION is India's (probably World's) first monthly magazine in print devoted to CSR and Sustainable Development for bringing together all stakeholders of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT at a global and local levels and act as a platform for promoting strategic CSR and sustainable development practices through dissemination of information and knowledge.