What was the idea behind Sukoon in Delhi?
The decision to get into the mental health industry was a personal one for me. Back in 2014, I had a very close friend admitted into an establishment complaining about a mental health problem. As luck would have it, I ended up working at the same institution and dived deeper into the world of mental health. The lack of infrastructure, technology, and transparency were enough red flags for me to desire to contribute.
Looking at the governance of this sub-sect of healthcare, I was certain that by offering a suitable ecosystem with integrated mental health services, quality care, clinical excellence, immaculate infrastructure, transparency and trust, we can bridge this gap. This thought led me to my partner, Kanishk in late 2017 and we both discussed the idea and vision for our company. The more we got serious about the opportunity, the better we could understand the legalities behind establishing a mental health facility and the numerous challenges attached to it, from bureaucratic bottlenecks to rejections from landlords. All the pieces fit together in February 2020 when we chose Gurugram as our flagship location and set up Sukoon there.
How is mental health very important especially in a country like India?
According to a report shared by WHO, 0·301 psychiatrists and 0·047 psychologists were available for every 100,000 patients suffering from a mental health disorder in 2011. The increasing gap between demand and availability of mental healthcare services is increasing with each passing day. Also, the psychological impact of the global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has put a lot of pressure on the healthcare industry to provide immediate solutions. Increasing cases of stress, anxiety, depression, frustration, uncertainty has made mental healthcare delivery the need of the hour.
Please explain the business model of Sukoon Health and the services that you provide?
We are India’s first super speciality hospital offering both, inpatient and outpatient treatments for concerns surrounding psychiatry, mental health, and de-addiction. With the help of a professionally equipped team of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, counsellors, and art-based therapists, we provide personalized care as we believe each patient is different. The treatments provided at Sukoon are created keeping in mind our patients’ condition, emotions, and needs. We offer a host of mental healthcare services such as 24*7 access to resident doctors; 24*7 access to psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses; and a specialized care a plan including an art-based therapist, nutritionists, physiotherapists, and yoga instructor for full recovery.
What are the challenges faced during the initial days and what are the current challenges?
As much as there are opportunities in the mental health industry of India, there are several latent and visible challenges too. One of our biggest concerns was to destigmatize mental health and help patients willing to share their psychological problems with us. Lack of certified clinical psychologists and psychiatrists is another roadblock in setting up an institution in this industry. With the increasing demand for mental healthcare, one cannot imagine a service that cannot handle multiple queries at once. Hence, we had to struggle a lot to find registered doctors for our team. One of our competitions is customized self-help mobile applications that may seem to do the work but are yet unable to give the personal touch to therapy. Mental healthcare is a subjective section of the healthcare system that is influenced by thoughts, feelings and opinions and cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach for a solution. It is not easy for a mental healthcare startup to establish its name in India’s healthcare ecosystem, however, with the right doctors and approaches, it can be done.
Please share your insights on the future of health-tech industry?
Future of health-tech industry is largely going to be influenced by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning offering non-invasive digital solutions for diagnosis and treatments. It will have health gadgets measure health analysis that could be directly shared with the treating doctor; augmented reality playing a major role in mental health and rehabilitation; and blockchain to decentralize patient data, provide access to medical data and secured payment gateways. However, the mental healthcare industry cannot be run solely on technology and requires a careful balance between personalized and non-invasive therapy.