The increasing use of Artificial intelligence, Big Data and IoT devices are changing the pattern of the healthcare business. Neha Rastogi, co-founder and COO of Agatsa, in an email interview with Zee Business online, talked about various aspects of healthcare business and innovations in this space.
Do you think Budget 2019 was successful in addressing problems faced by startups?
The Budget did address some major areas including simplification of tax compliances and income tax scrutiny. Further, the provision of expanding PMKY by including cutting-edge skills like AI, analytics and 3D printing, etc. are welcome steps. These will not only enhance skill levels among the start-up workforce, but also empower them to become more competent on a global level. Agatsa is also a tech-enabled company and our devices are based on these modern technologies. Hence, there is definitely some promise in the budget for us.
What are the measures needed to provide affordable health care services?
Access to affordable healthcare is something that needs to be addressed urgently in India. First and foremost, we must emphasise on providing universal healthcare services by increasing the budgetary allocation as a percentage of GDP. The establishment of the National Research Foundation is a positive step, but adequate emphasis must also be given on domestic medical device manufacturers and cutting-edge healthcare innovators. The governmental support for domestic innovators like us would bring down the dependency on imported healthcare equipment and also make the services more affordable for the masses.
Support must be given in the form of easy credit flow, promotion of universal health insurance, and towards addressing the lack of tax incentives for hospitals and private healthcare providers keen to increase capacity in existing facilities as well as setting up new ones. The government must also put in place a dedicated infrastructure and innovation fund. The Indian healthcare system is battling a shortage of resources and infrastructure and such steps are the need of the hour.
Tell us about what you do at Agatsa? What are your USPs?
Driven by the gaps in early identification of cardiac issues and affordable and accessible cardiac care in India, Agatsa has focused on creating its first range of products to address the critical area of cardiac disease diagnosis and management.
Using our combined technological expertise in mobile and healthcare devices, we have created a solution that is ideal for preventive cardiac care — portable, affordable, and easy-to-use ECG devices. Our first product was SanketLife 2.0 – the world’s first and smallest 12- LEAD device that is small enough to fit into a car Key chain. Despite the portability and ease of usage, the cutting-edge technology used in SanketLife 2.0 captures complete medical-grade, high quality 12 LEAD ECG data and HRV on the go. SanketLife 2.0 is a complete leadless ECG solution, hence anyone can take ECG anytime and anywhere without the need of sticking electrodes to the body and leads attached to it.
In the year 2018, we came up with SanketLife Pro+, a hybrid of Leadless and Lead-based medical grade 12-LEAD ECG primarily for those medical practitioners who can take the single lead, 6 lead and 12 lead ECGs with or with leads. The leads are especially helpful for patients who are unconscious or very old patients who cannot hold the leadless device stably.
The SanketLife devices simplify the process by letting an individual or a doctor, quickly and accurately measure the ECG at home or clinic by a sensor-based digital device and optionally connect with a doctor and get a doctor-verified analysis within 10 minutes. These devices are clinically proven to have more than 98% accuracy compared to traditional ECG devices and are user friendly. The ECG readings generated are digitally shared via Android or iOS platforms in real-time.
How technology is changing healthcare space?
Artificial intelligence, Big Data and IoT devices have touched every domain in the world and it is gradually now making its presence felt in Healthcare also. With the use of these technologies, a vast change can be brought in healthcare landscape like remote health monitoring, prediction of the possibility of having a disease etc. Connected devices are also being used to connect to a doctor remotely using meaningful health data and helping him diagnose a disease with his intelligence augmented with artificial intelligence.
At Agatsa, we have been harnessing the potential of latest technology to create path-breaking wireless hand-held ECG devices which are IoT in nature and are connected to smartphone app, cloud and doctor’s platform. They provide medical-grade ECG reports anytime, anywhere and get reviewed by real doctor and algorithms within a matter of minutes. In a country where cardiovascular problems are the biggest killers among non-communicable diseases, such technological innovations are critical
What are your expansion plans?
Agatsa is actively selling it’s devices and services through various online mediums in business-to-consumer (B2C) segments. Our devices are present on Amazon, sanketLife.in and Agatsa.com. We are also selling to business-tobusiness (B2B) segments like home healthcare companies, pharma companies and hospital chains. We have recently launched our hybrid ECG model called SanketLife Pro+ which can be used as a Leadless and also as a Lead-based ECG device to take 12-Leads of ECG with our new innovation called ‘SwitchSy’. This is a simple converter to be used on your pocket device and it converts leadless device to a lead-based in seconds.
We have plans to scale up our sales and operations in hospitals and clinics around India with this innovation in small cities and districts and also globally.
Cardiac care is expensive. So, do you have anything for the poor in your plan?
Cardiac care is expensive when it is detected late and a procedure needs to be done. We are focussing on early detection and prevention or timely intervention rather than reactive treatment. Hence, SanketLife is also used for a community screening of underprivileged masses and helps in early detection of disease and reducing the financial burden on such people by timely intervention and proper management of the disease. Sudden cardiac death can impose a great financial burden on the whole family of deceased, SanketLife not only helps in right diagnosis at the right time but also remotely connect such patients to quality healthcare.
We have already deployed our devices in various PHCs of Rajasthan, Delhi and Tripura and we are constantly innovating to create more affordable and multi-utility devices in this sector.
What is India’s role in handling cardiac care? Compare the situation with global scenario.
According to estimates, about half of all fatalities happen due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India. Between 2005 and 2017, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVDs) grew at a CAGR of 9.2 percent and the conditions impacts 24.8 percent of all 25-to-69-year-olds in the country. Between 2005 to 2015, India lost $236 billion cumulatively due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. On the global scale, CVDs caused 17.9 million deaths in 2016 which is 31% of the total deaths caused by NCDs all over the world.
In India, healthcare is now moving from the curative model to a preventive one. The healthcare industry is also tailoring its offerings according to the demands of the hour. Wearable and portable devices help us keep track of vital statistics including blood pressure, ECG, blood sugar, etc.
Regulating medical devices sector is a ‘priority’ in Health Ministry’s five-year plan. Your views.
Indian medical devices regulations are undergoing drastic changes and for the better. Until now, only a few ‘invasive’ medical devices were only regulated which left innovators like us to have innovated ‘ non invasive’ ‘ diagnostic’ devices, in dark. The need of the hour is to promote innovation and development of devices and technologies that suit the Indian market conditions and are capable of providing affordable universal healthcare in the country.
What are the job opportunities in this industry?
The healthcare and health-tech industry in India presents an immense potential to offer job opportunities. India being a land of innovators and technical experts, opportunities are immense in fields of high-tech medical devices and services. With technology venturing into healthcare field, electronics engineers, software developers, data scientists and bio-medical engineers have great career options in our industry in coming times.
Speaking of businesses that operate co-working spaces in India, New Delhi-based startup Awfis announced today that it has raised $30 million in a new financing round to expand its footprint in the country.
The Series D round for the four-year-old startup was led by ChrysCapital. Existing investors Sequoia Capital India and The Three Sisters Institutional Office also participated in the round, the startup said. Maple Capital Advisors was the sole financial adviser for the deal. Awfis has raised $81 million to date.
Awfis operates in nine cities in India and has 63 centers. It currently has the capacity to accommodate 30,000 people across its centers. In an interview with TechCrunch, Amit Ramani, founder and CEO of Awfis, said the startup will use the capital to add about 340 centers to accommodate 170,000 more people in the next one year and a half.
The startup currently operates two models: It works with landowners to use their workspaces and splits profits with them, and it serves as a management operator where it takes a cut of the revenue as its fee. Ramani did not disclose the financial performance of Awfis, but said the startup is aiming to go public in 2022.
Most of its customers today are either small businesses or corporate clients. Some of its customers include Vodafone, Reliance, Hitachi, Zomato and Practo . It also offers a mobility solution for individuals who want to work from Awfis’ workspaces.
Kshitij Sheth, VP of ChrysCapital, told TechCrunch in an interview that India is finally beginning to see a major boom in the co-working spaces culture. He said his team was impressed by Awfis’ quality services, business model and ratings from customers.
India’s co-working space, still a relatively new business category in the nation, is worth $390 million — a fraction of the $30 billion office and commercial real estate business. Awfis today competes with a number of startups, including GoWork, which announced $53 million in a debt financing round earlier today, 91Springboard, GoHive and the global giant WeWork.
Fast-growing hotel lodging startup Oyo also recently entered the co-working spaces business with the launch of Oyo Workspaces. For the expansion, it acquired local player Innov8 for a sum of about $30 million to immediately establish a presence in 10 cities in India with more than 20 centers.
But the competition does not necessarily worry Ramani, who said the market today remains largely untapped. “Competition is great. It helps educate the market. People have more choices.” Ramani is happy to compete with others on quality and service, he said.
Awfis, which is a Delhi based coo-working space provider, has now secured $30 Million in the funding round of Series D led by the ChrysCapital. While on the other hand, Three Sisters Institutional office and Sequoia Capital India also participated in the round.
The startup will now be going to use the funds to expand its product and services lineup, and even further establish a presence in the new micro-markets in India, while enriching the experience for its community members.
“Our focus is to fortify our base in Tier 1 cities and further enter the newer market with expansion into Tier 2 cities,” Amit Ramani, founder at Awfis, said.
Awfis was founded in the year 2015 by the Amit Ramani. It also has around 30000 seats across the 63 centers in nine cities with a member base of around 25000 customers.
The company is offering its services to more than 1500 clients. Currently, the company has a total real estate portfolio of 2 million square feet across India.
The company is offering its services to over 1500 clients. Currently, the company has a total real estate
Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head, JLL India, said, “We expect more REIT launches in 2019. For institutional players, newer business around coliving, flex-spaces and proptech are opening up, giving much hope and confidence in the India growth story.”
Soon after the San Fransisco-based ride hailing firm Uber launched its initial public offering it is mulling to experiment with its bus service in India to promote mass transit for value conscious riders.
“We are in the process of building the product and refining that. There are pilots that are live in parts of Latin America and Middle East. So they are archetype of markets that would look like India,” Pradeep Parameswaran, Uber India and South Asia head told Moneycontrol in an interaction.
“I am hoping that in India we will be out in the next 12 months or so. Fundamentally we can say that buses play an important part of pubic transport. Every version of a well performing transit solution will require buses,” he added.
Uber officially announced the launch of its first ever bus service in Cairo in October. The service allows users to reserve their seat in an air conditioned bus through the Uber app. When the riders requests a ride, the company, scans for the other passengers traveling in the same direction so that the rider gets to his destination with fewer stops.
Interestingly, the app-based bus services is not an alien concept in the Indian market. Domestic rival Ola had a short run with this service. It launched its bus service, Ola Shuttle in 2015 and wrapped up the business in 2018 after scaling it across multiple cities.
According to Ola, it wanted to focus on emerging categories such as auto, share and electric vehicles.
Uber on the other hand is counting bus service as among the key areas that will help the company gain major transaction among the masses.
Over the last 12 months, the company has also stopped describing itself as a car company.
“Uber has not found its product market fit in India yet which means that the number of people who can afford air-conditioned cars on an everyday basis, two times is somewhat a limited market. Now as the economy grows and the per capita income grows, that segment is growing quite fast. On an absolute basis, we are well into kind of tapping that market. But Uber’s mission was not only to serve the top lot. Our ambition is to get reliable transportation to all. And I am very pumped about the work that we have started to do with two wheelers, three wheelers, our global plans around buses, Things that actually make a difference to a much larger group of people,” said Parameswaran.
He, however, declined d to share any further details on the service adding that a lot will depend upon the success of the pilots in the other markets.
Even as Ola has exited the space, whenever Uber launches bus service in India it will lock horns with younger firms such as Shuttl which recently raised Rs 49 crore in a Series B round of funding from Sequoia Capital, SCI Investments and Lightspeed, among others. Overall the company has raised around Rs 300 crore so far.
Currently Shuttl runs on a subscription model and charges customers Rs 1,800-2000 for a monthly pass. The rate depends on the number of rides to be taken by the rider in a month.
Other startups in this space include names like ZipGo which last announced a fund raise of Rs 300 crore led by Essel Green Mobility Ltd in 2018.Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro and gain access to curated markets data, exclusive trading recommendations, independent equity analysis, actionable investment ideas, nuanced takes on macro, corporate and policy actions, practical insights from market gurus and much more.