In the last few years, the healthcare industry in India has witnessed some path-breaking innovations, taking us one step closer to affordable and accessible services for all. Several startups in the health-tech space are doing ground-breaking work, and interestingly, are helmed by women leaders. Breaking gender stereotypes, these women are raising the bar for quality healthcare in the country. They are tapping unserved niches in the diagnostic and enterprise areas, providing efficient delivery solutions for all - so much so that women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine) is not a rarity any more.
Here are some women who are redefining healthcare in India with the help of advanced technology:
Due to low oncologist-to-patient ratio, lack of proper treatment facilities, and absence of right information, India has had a high death rate among Cancer patients. Bangalore-based Onco.com enables Cancer patients to consult world-class oncologists in the US and India.
Founder Rashie Jain, an IIT-ian who graduated with MBA from The Wharton School in the US, has earlier worked with several companies in that space. She met Dr. Amit Jotwani, a seasoned oncologist, at that time, and the duo co-founded Onco.com in 2017.
The duo has also started Onco Connect Services, wherein they provide personalised recommendations on the right oncologists and even connect patients with doctors.
Anu Acharya, MapMyGenome
It was in 2013 that Anu Acharya started MapMyGenome to spread awareness about people’s genetic makeup, and in the bargain, help them in preventing diseases. The startup works on building the genetic profile and build of an individual. This information helps them to understand how prone they are to different diseases, and eventually helps in taking the right action.
Anu, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, had worked with Tata Unisys before she moved to the US to work in telecom software sector.
MapMyGenome was founded both as a B2C and B2B company that offers molecular diagnostics kits that specialise in tuberculosis. A product from MapMyGenome - Genomepatri - helps to analyse diseases, risks that could occur from diet and lifestyle factors, and drug responses, based on an individual’s genetic data. It had started with about 30 to 40 conditions; today, it covers about 100 conditions, traits, and drug correlations.
Geetha Manjunath & Nidhi Mathur
Over the last few years, breast cancer has become alarmingly prevalent in India. According to surveys, one woman is diagnosed every four minutes– and one out of every two women diagnosed with breast cancer in India does not survive. While the number of cases have risen over the years, the ways of detecting the problem remain unchanged.
This grave reality led Geetha Manjunath and Nidhi Mathur to start Niramai, a healthtech startup that utilises emerging technologies, including AI to detect cancer in the early stage. Its revolutionary product, Thermalytix, is a portable, non-invasive, radiation-free, and non-contact solution that measures the temperature of the chest region, which in turn, gives a breast health score. If the score is high, then a follow up test is mandatory.
The process is simple and barely takes 10-15 minutes, after which the report is generated.
Geetha, who was previously with Xerox and HP, holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence (AI) from IISc Bangalore, and Nidhi is an IIM-B alumnus and serial entrepreneur. The duo has grown Niramai to over 30 installations at hospitals and diagnostic centres across India now. Their startup is the only Indian company that has made it to the ‘AI 100 Startups in the World 2019’ by global business data intelligence platform CB Insights.
OncoSTEM, based out of Bengaluru, aims to provide personalised cancer treatment and care. Founded by Dr. Manjiri Bakre, who decided to establish her startup after two young relatives passed away due to breast cancer, has a PhD in Cell Biology from IISc. She had worked in Singapore for five years, before returning to India in 2007.
In the west, breast cancer patients in their early stages are either categorised as low or high risk for cancer recurrence. Following the same principle, OncoSTEM predicts the recurrence of cancer based on the molecular fingerprint of a tumor using Proteomics, and Genomics-based platforms.
The startup is working towards developing an array of tests for different types of cancer.
Romita Ghosh, Admirus & MedSamaan
It was at the tender age of 13 that Romita Ghosh was diagnosed with blood cancer. Her trauma, coupled with her childhood dream of becoming an entrepreneur, led Romita to mark her foray into healthcare.
She has a double majors in biotechnology and biochemistry, and followed them up with an MBA in biotech management.
Her entrepreneurial journey began in 2009 with D’lights, a LED and CFL importing and manufacturing company. In about two years, she founded a big data analytics startup, Admirus. During this time, she discovered several unresolved challenges in the medical device sector that led her to start MedSamaan.
The platform is embedded with an AI-enabled chatbot that guides patients to make the right decisions. MedSamaan is currently piloting in five cities, and has its attention on disposables, consumables, wound care, ortho support aids, infection management, and various point-of-care medical devices and supplies.
Sunita Maheshwari - Teleradiology Solutions
A paediatric cardiologist, Sunita Maheshwari did her MBBS from Osmania University, and then finished her post-graduation in gynaecology at AIIMS. Later, went to pursue Pediatric Cardiology at Yale University in the US. She returned to India in 1999, and that’s when it struck her that while there were several call centres in operation, there was nothing around teleradiology in the country. Sunita and her husband decided to set up their company, Teleradiology Solutions (TRS), and ran it from home. Today, the startup is one of the largest companies in the space of teleradiology.
Soon after its inception, the Singapore Health Ministry got in touch with TRS, and in the next three years, they helped set up Singapore’s first teleradiology centre. Outside US and India, they serve in Africa and the Middle East too.
Sunita has also incubated other startups in the telehealth space, including Healtheminds, a tele counselling initiative.
(Edited by Athira Nair)