For anyone who has taken care of a chronically ill relative at home, there is no end to the things one has to take care of. From ensuring that all medicines are available on hand to hiring a full-time attendant to purchasing medical equipment that makes life a little easier for both, it is a time-consuming and back-breaking labour of love. While professional home healthcare services in India has matured in recent years, unavailability of quality equipment makes it an uphill ride. While hospitals do refer you to medical equipment stores, these are far and few, and expensive to boot. Enter online medical equipment stores which cater to individual patients instead of only medical professionals and take them through the myriad steps of identifying the right device, hands-on training on how to use the equipment and even installing them in the patient’s home. Bengaluru-based Rehamo is one such life-saver for the bed-ridden patient, the disabled and even the special kid.
A one-stop destination for all rehabilitation and mobility products, services, and home healthcare solutions, the start-up founded in May 2018, offers a range of lifestyle and diagnostic devices for patients recuperating at home, aids for assisted living for the elderly and patients needing palliative care, and special care products for special needs children. The firm also has solutions for sports or lifestyle related injuries. It also helps the patient/caregiver in choosing the right device and teaches them how to use it. Says Deepak Bafna, co-founder of Rehamo, “It is this personalised approach that makes the company unique and helps it stand out.” As Rehamo puts it, the big idea was “Life after a pause”. After a life-altering event, a person may find it difficult to get his or her life back on track. This is where Rehamo came in as it aimed to help customers start life afresh, with renewed hope. Rehamo, which was started by Deepak Bafna and Sunil Bafna, looked for the best home healthcare solutions across the world and combined that with an in-house qualified guidance counsellor and a network of partner medical professionals to come up with this first-of-its-kind experience centre in the space of rehabilitation and mobility in India.
The products available at the store are spread across the following categories—mobility (wheelchairs, walkers, rollators, canes), transfer management, pressure prevention, homecare beds and positioning systems, bath and commode, orthopedics, footcare, phlebology, diabetics, incontinence, special need children, pain management, mother and baby care, orthotics and prosthetics, assisted daily living products, physiotherapy equipment and ergonomics. Girish Krishna, general manager at Rehamo, says that simply referring a healthcare product is not enough, there should be a holistic approach. “If I say that I know some company that sells wheelchairs and refer someone to that, it’s inadequate. What we do is, we listen to the specific problem and pain of the patient and accordingly recommend the best product and solution for the individual.” Rehamo is backed by Prajwal Group, a well-established player in the medical equipment space. Prajwal already supplies medical equipment across Karnataka through its dealer network. Besides selling products from its Bangalore store, Rehamo also delivers products across the country purchased online, though rentals are currently confined to Bengaluru only.
The firm is planning to expand into tier II cities such as Jaipur and Kochi on a franchisee basis, with plans near finalisation for states such as Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal. Bengaluru-based Portea, one of the earliest players in the home healthcare services market, has also ventured into the retail medical equipment hire and purchase space. It offers medical equipment for respiratory care, geriartic and mobility care, sleep therapy, orthopaedic care, cardiac care and mother and baby care on rent and purchase at the customer’s doorstep. “Medical equipment is an integral part of effective home health care, especially for post-operative patients, terminally ill patients or those suffering with orthopedic issues, cancer or respiratory diseases. We acquired Health Mantra, in 2016 to strengthen our product offering and to create pan India service capability,” says Vaibhav Tewari, COO, Portea Medical. The start-up rents and sells medical equipment in 16 locations across the country, including many state capitals and tier 2 cities. “We get steady demand for respiratory devices, home ICU setup and at the same time we’re seeing a good growth in the demand of our diabetes care programme, where we provide a Bluetooth enabled glucometer, strips and nutrition counselling to help patients manage their sugar levels,” says Tewari.
Health and wellness start-ups such as Healthgenie and Zotezo are also active in this space. Going forward, more home healthcare service providers are likely to enter this space given that they cater to the same customer base. As Portea’s Tewari points out, this is a very high potential segment both from patient need as well as innovation perspectives. “With Portea offering healthcare services and equipment as a package, there is tremendous opportunity to innovate and serve patients. We are continuously working on specialty based packages for our patients where equipment is the core and services is the layer around it,” he adds. “We’re investing in devices dealing with sleep apnea, breast cancer examination, and better respiratory and cardiac devices.
In the coming years, we’ll see that the patient and doctors will have real time data on patients via connected devices.” Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar medical equipment retailers Delhi-based Medirent Services and Mumbai-based Collateral Medical (Colmed.in) have also started web platforms to expand their customer base. The home healthcare market is estimated to reach $6.21 billion by 2020 from $3.2 billion in 2016 with a number of start-ups offering varied services. The broader health-tech vertical witnessed a 28% year-on-year growth in 2017, with an estimated total base of 320 start-ups, according to Nasscom’s ‘Indian Start-up Ecosystem’ report. The vertical also garnered a total funding of $160 million in H1-2017, up by 129% since H1-2016.