Even in the modern era of science and technology, access to healthcare services remains a dream to many villagers in India. The villagers in India have to travel at least 12 kilometers to the nearest town to get even the most fundamental of medical checkups done (like checking BP, pulse rate, blood sugar etcetera). Chikitsak is a Bengaluru – based medical startup, which has tied up with NGOs to provide medical checkups at the doorstep of Indian villagers. The startup trains its employees to become ‘Chikitsaks’ (care takers in Hindi). “We wanted to make a difference in the rural areas using technology. Our focus area is non-communicable diseases. We have been studying this market for close to 12-18 months”, said Milind Naik, founder of Chikitsak. Read more on Startups
“The major problem is that the closest primary healthcare center is 16-24 km from the place of stay. Their (villagers’) notion is that if I go to a primary healthcare center, I will be spending a day over there and it will cost me around Rs 800”, Milind Naik added. Milind Naik has over two decades of experience in the technical sector. He founded the startup Chikitsak, two years ago along with his wife Mahalakshmi Naik, who is finance professional. Chikitsak uses a camera-bag-like kit, which consists of nine devices, including an android tab, a printer and a simple colored health chart, to diagnose patients. All of the medical checkups done by the device, cost just Rs. 50! The device checks a total of seventeen health parameters including parameters like ECG, anemia, blood pressure, water quality, heart rate (pulse rate), weight, BMI and vision. “We need to understand what is the expertise required by a person to take blood pressure. Not much, he just needs to put a cuff and press a button and say, this is normal or that is not normal. It is the same case with temperature. This is why all our devices have one-click buttons. The data is then automatically transferred to an android tab via Bluetooth. It means that I do not need a trained paramedic to do this”, said Milind Naik.
The ‘Chikitsaks’ are trained for three days. Two days are spent in making them understand various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, stroke and hypertension. The last day is spent in making them familiar with the devices. The Chikitsaks are paid a decent salary of upto Rs. 12,500 per month. “People keep asking me, what is your innovation? There isn’t an innovation, we are not reinventing the wheel .We are optimizing the wheel. We say, why are you even coming to the town (to work), why can’t you be a micro entrepreneur? Be in your village and earn a lot more. Our health workers earn anywhere between Rs 11,000 and Rs 12,500 a month”, said Milind Naik.
The five-member startup has tied up with over 300 NGOs across Karnataka at present. Chikitsak works, based on a revenue share model with its investors. The company has already raised Rs. 70 lakhs through investments from two rounds from its investors and is in talks with them to raise more funding in the near future. “It (Chikitsak) is important for two reasons: First, (due to) the shift in the types of diseases — three to four decades earlier, India was grappling with infectious diseases, but now the shift is towards non-communicable diseases. Second, the rural healthcare system is not capable of providing the level of care to manage these illnesses. We need to have the last-mile healthcare delivery model to detect early and detect at a point of care closer to them (the rural population). It is a significant disruption”, said Dr. Tarun Ramole, digital health consultant and an adviser to Chikitsak. The startup is looking to expand to the northeastern states of India soon and is also working on bringing telemedicine capabilities to its platform.
Even after seventy years since independence, it is shameful that the Indian Government has not setup healthcare facilities at villages. Even in this modern era of science and technology, that is meant to make life easy for man, villagers in India are struggling to get access to even the most fundamental of healthcare checkups. They need to travel at least 12 – 16 kilometers to the nearest town to get even fundamental health checkups done. This consumes a lot of their time and money and deters them from getting health checkups done! Any attempt by the previous Indian governments to better the villages in India had always been politicized for votes and ultimately led to the villages of India being backward in education and healthcare. The Government of India must at least fund and incubate startups like Chikitsak who provide doorstep healthcare checkups for villagers which the Government of India has not been able to do for the past seventy years! The healthcare services provided by Chikitsak are truly ‘need of the hour’ for India. Read more on Startup News