‘Chikitsaks’ goes door to door to in villages for health checkups and screening
Chikitsak, which works on a revenue-share model, has already raised around Rs 70 lakh in two small rounds, and is in talks to raise another round in the near future.
Chikitsak, a Bengaluru-based startup, aims to change this by tying up with NGOs and training their workers to become ‘Chikitsaks’ (caregivers), who can then screen the rural folk right at their doorstep.
"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.
"The major problem is that the closest primary healthcare centre is 16-24 km from the place of stay. Their (villagers’) notion is that if I go to a primary healthcare centre, I will be spending a day over there and it will cost me around Rs 800."
Naik, who has over two decades of experience in leading technology roles, started Chikitsak two years ago with his wife Mahalakshmi Naik, a finance professional. Chikitsak uses a camera-bag-like kit, which consists of nine devices, including an android tab, a printer and a simple coloured health chart, to screen patients.
The whole screening costs just Rs 50 and measures around 17 health parameters including ECG, anaemia, blood pressure, water quality, heart 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. Same with temperature. That is what all our devices are 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 Naik.
The Chikitsaks are trained for three days. Two days are spent in making them get a grasp of various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, stroke and hypertension. The last day is spent in getting them used to the devices. The Chikitsaks, in return, also make decent money.
"People keep asking me, what is your innovation? There isn’t an innovation, we are not reinventing the wheel.We are optimising 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 Naik.
The five-member startup has tied up with over 300 NGOs across Karnataka at present. Chikitsak, which works on a revenue-share model, has already raised around Rs 70 lakh in two small rounds, and is in talks to raise another round 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 significant disruption," said Dr Tarun Ramole, digital health consultant and an adviser to Chikitsak.
The startup is looking to expand to the northeastern states soon and is also working on bringing telemedicine capabilities to its platform.