Healthcare Comes Home

By: | Updated: September 29, 2015 8:47 AM

When Lalit’s father survived his bypass surgery, the family heaved a sigh of relief. But not for long. From diet regulations to unforeseen complications, he needed constant monitoring and everyday healthcare services.

When Lalit’s father survived his bypass surgery, the family heaved a sigh of relief. But not for long. From diet regulations to unforeseen complications, he needed constant monitoring and everyday healthcare services. It had been a couple of years since his mother had passed away and both Lalit and his wife were working in private firms with ungodly working hours. It was not enough to have an ayah. He was in constant fear if anything would happen to his father while he was away. What Lalit needed was a complete home healthcare package for his father, a service which he could trust and depend upon.

Lalit is not alone. The practice of professional post-operative care, monitoring and everyday healthcare services are largely missing in India. With India having the second largest geriatric population in the world[1], the country needs a structural change in the healthcare system to accommodate the rising number of people needing regular health services. However, in the last couple of years, there has been a steady rise of providers of healthcare services at home which is fast filling this gap. It is estimated that 70% of an average person’s ailments can be treated at home and 65% of hospital visits in India involve healthcare that can be provided in the home. With home healthcare services costing up to 20% less than a hospital visit, this trend is fast catching up with the Indian population whose life expectancy is growing even as the number of people being affected with chronic and lifestyle-related diseases is on the rise.

A report by Pacific Bridge Medical pegs the Indian home health care market at around $2.3 billion and growing at more than 18% per annum. What was earlier an unorganized and fragmented sector, has now evolved into an organized, technology-led industry with standards and protocols which is fast catching the attention of entrepreneurs and investors. Health service at home is no longer limited to a home healthcare nurse, from home physiotherapy services to antibiotic therapy, companies like Healthcare at Home are providing all at the doorstep in minimal time.

One of the major players in this home healthcare market is Healthcare at Home (HCAH), a Delhi-based company with a strong presence in North India, who is creating a revolution in the specialty homecare services market. While credibility and accountability have emerged as vital concerns in this sector, HCAH’s strong management, critical medical oversight, specially trained nurses and evidence-based treatment protocols have given it the reputation of a trustworthy home healthcare service provider. The firm has catered to 4,000 patients since its inception in 2013, has provided 500 chemotherapies, and has a staff strength of 500, informed Vivek Srivastava, Founder Member & CEO, HCAH India.

HCAH India is the fruit of a partnership between the Burman Family, promoters of Dabur India, with their 125 years of experience in Indian well-being and HCAH, UK, a 25-year old firm. It owes its consistency in quality and continuum in care to the advances of communication and medical technology that now allow interventions at home which were only possible in hospital settings earlier. While their biggest challenge was to replicate hospital “process”—from the time of admission, to regular doctor rounds, change in treatment plans (if and when necessary), up until the patient gets discharged—they tackled it by using technology and going paperless. Use of tablets across all caregivers allowed doctors to receive an automated home visit report at the desired frequency and hence to stay in control of the patient situation. Thus, the family, even if sitting miles away, could now be at ease knowing that everything is in safe hands and in control.

Dr. Gaurav Thukral, one of the Founder Members, HCAH India, shares, “During my work at various hospitals, we used to get regular requests from patients’ relatives for home care. From chronic disease patients to relatives wanting their beloved on the ventilator to breathe their last at home. However, we could never provide these services. We used to have the best of facilities at our hospitals, but once the patient stepped out; there was a serious dip in this quality. People available for home care were hardly qualified healthcare professionals. Only after this sub-standard care, when the patient’s condition used to get worse, we would get informed. This gap was something that we wanted to fill in.”

The founders were clear on their priorities right from the start. “We had two aims in mind while conceptualizing HCAH India. First, find the right people and train them right; second, build accountability (even in a home care setup), just like hospitals have rigorous accountability processes,” says Dr. Gareth Jones, Founder, Health Care at Home UK & Chairman Health Care at Home India. At present, HCAH offers home oncology services (from home oncologist visits to chemotherapy at home), post-surgical care, critical care services, home pulmonology, home cardiac care, physiotherapy and most importantly ICU at home which includes bed sore care, care of bedridden, care of IV lines, enteral feeding, infusions and even setting up of the ICU infrastructure at home. These services allow the patients to recuperate within the comforts of home in the company of family and friends. HCAH provides these highly specialized intensive care services along with high-end infrastructural support and constant medical attention, all at a lower cost than hospitals.

However, public awareness on home care is still relatively low in India, although it has picked up in the last few months, opine care providers. With the limited number of ICU beds and medical ventilators in private hospitals, people suffering from chronic ailments who need frequent hospitalization prefer treatment at home since it is comparatively inexpensive and hassle-free. Indians need to embrace home-based healthcare services, especially for patients who are ill enough to need additional long-term care, but stable enough to not have to be hospitalized. It is not only about convenience and quality, it is also about the value of keeping the loved ones closer to the family.

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[1] UN Population Fund report says the number of people aged over 60 will increase from 100 million in 2011 to 300 milion by 2050 with 1 in 5 Indians being above the age of 60.

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