This week on startup focus, we present iKure Techsoft, a disruptive player in the Indian rural healthcare market.
This multiple award winning startup is in its own way trying to break the iron-triangle of access vs. quality for rural healthcare. With over 70% of India having a rural base, iKure is currently present in 6 states in India and aiming to expand into other Indian states. They have also got requests from many other developing countries such as Kenya, Philippines, Mexico for expansion but feel their strength would be to consolidate in India for next 2 years before considering venturing internationally.
In my interaction with the CEO and Ashoka Fellow, Dr Sujay Santra, he says “IKure aims in creating an eco-system of transformation in India’s rural villages through curative and preventive healthcare solutions.”
Realizing the dearth of doctors in India’s rural villages, iKure provides community based curative and preventive healthcare services leveraging their technology WHIMS. iKure using technology innovation, skills training and capacity building facilitates disease prevention solutions around sanitation, hygiene and nutritional components, ensuring holistic well being of the rural communities.
Using the power of cloud-computing, iKure developed medical-collaboration platform called Wireless Health Incident Monitoring System-WHIMS. The cloud-based technology platform is designed to be accessed through tablets and smart phones using mobile network (2G/3G). It is supported with basic medical equipment like Sphygmomanometer, ECG, Glucometer, Phonocardiogram etc. for seamless data transfer. The technology requires low bandwidth for data transfer and can work in areas where supply of electricity is erratic and just the right technology for operating in rural areas. The software supports digitizing patients’ records and data, centralizing billing and inventory management, low-cost diagnostic & data analytics and remote healthcare support.
iKure offers doctor consultation & medicine for just Rs. 90 as against Rs. 300 to 400 that the patients have to pay for the same set of services elsewhere. They have treated more than 42,000 patients till date.
iKure has been selected as one of the top 10 innovators in the National Conference for Social Innovation, Pune. They have also won the ‘Global Health Supply Chain Summit Prize’ for Supply Chain Excellence in Global Health in Low and Low‐Middle income countries. The event was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Additionally, their technology has been recognized by Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Sloan Fellows recognized iKure as one of the innovative models for delivering heath care at a Global level
Apart from the many awards and recognitions they have achieved for the credible work; as any startup, they feel their biggest achievement has that the company has moved towards breakeven stage & is moving towards profitability. To them this validates that rural healthcare model if designed in a optimised manner can be made self sustainable.
On Pricing Strategy and Customer Base
Dr Tirumala shares “As our customer base is rural our model is low cost, high volume. During any medical need the mindset of the local people have always been to ignore till the point things gets aggravated. At iKure we are offering an affordable price point which helps the patients to seek doctors at an early stage.”
On Future plans
We have 28 centres of our own. We would like to expand to more than 300 in next 3 years. Besides this we are providing our technology & healthcare delivery solution as a sustainable model to various organisations who are serving rural customers such as TATA Trust , Grama Vidiyal to name a few.
On Startup Advice: Customisation is key
iKure believe that the customer base in rural India will need products and services which can be ultra low cost that can cater to masses. While there have been some models which has emerged in this sector, it is important that the government and other funding bodies support such design for more & more such startups to come about. There is a huge potential for organizations working in this belt. However, the model needs to be designed keeping the Indian customers in mind. Hence the country needs disruptive innovations to cater to this space.