Doctor at your door


How you wish you could have your doctor come home rather than wade through traffic and wait endlessly at the clinic. Portea, an in-home medical care service across 12 cities in India, offers just that

“All of us are guilty in some way of not being able to take care of elderly parents…but how much can we actually do? This need of the current generation is a big driver for our service," is how Ganesh pins down the primary reason for starting Portea Medical, an in-home medical care service that’s now spread across 12 Indian cities, including Bangalore.

The medical enterprise is the latest from the incubator of Bangalore-based serial entrepreneur couple Ganesh Krishnan and Meena Ganesh, who seem to turn every idea they touch into gold. At their buzzing hive off Old Airport Road, each nook has frantic training sessions on — one, particularly, looks rather interesting. It’s a new service they are planning to launch soon to help young mothers transition — so bath tub, baby doll, nappies, and a whole lot of attentive young nurses are intently training to help a new mom (far away from family and help) figure the ropes.

Ganesh, the chairman of the company, is quick to list the factors that make getting medical assistance at home practical. “It is cruel to subject an elderly patient to pothole-ridden roads, traffic, and parking problems. Moreover it becomes a two-hour visit for a 10-minute consultation.”

Meena, the CEO, adds that even youngsters don’t have that kind of time to spare. “Imagine going for 15 sessions of physiotherapy; you end up waiting 45 minutes for a half-hour session to begin.

And it may not be the same therapist each day. The inconvenience is avoided by delivering the service at home.” The concept was also prompted by the Ganeshs’ personal experience, when Meena’s father was diagnosed with cancer. “Bangalore has excellent tertiary care facilities, the best of doctors and hospitals. That’s why it’s the hub of medical tourism. But where it fails is in the ‘post’ stage of care, where you don’t really need to go to the hospital; 70 per cent of the cases belong to this category,” says Ganesh.

Their service includes home visits by doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, nursing attendants. They also deliver medicines, diagnostic services, and medical equipment to the doorstep. In Bangalore alone, they have 300 employees on board including all categories, and all are trained in-house to maintain a standard of care and service, says Meena. There are four segments that the service caters to, says Meena. The first is elderly patients who’re not actually sick but need regular care, monthly check-ups, medicines, and for whom keeping stable health is a goal.

The second, is for those with chronic diseases that may range from cardiac, to cancer, kidney to multi-pronged problems. The third segment is those people who need post-operative care — dressings, injections, physiotherapy etc. “We have a tie-up with Manipal Hospital where patients are handed over to us post operation. It’s a symbiotic relationship where the hospital and doctor are also happy that a continuum of treatment is maintained.” And the last segment is primary care, where someone who’s sick needs the attention of a general practitioner but isn’t able to go out of the house. “Maybe it’s a young mother who’s alone at the home with a baby and can’t step out, maybe it’s your child who’s had a fall and immediately needs an anti-tetanus injection while you’re stuck in office, or a traveller to the city living in a hotel who has a stomach upset…,” suggests Ganesh. Such cases call for a one-off visit, which they also offer, without any packages or subscription.

Ganesh says many factors drive such a service in cities in India — diseases get discovered earlier, so there is greater longevity, and therefore greater time duration of disease management. “Unfortunately India is huge in chronic diseases — 51 per cent of deaths in India are due to chronic diseases, largely cancer, diabetes, and cardio-vascular problems.” There are regional variations and concentrations, says Ganesh; south Indians are genetically more prone to diabetes while up North liver trouble is big. “Moreover in India it is societally unacceptable to send old people to an old age home, where ideally such care should be provided.”

In the last five months they have been in operation, they’ve had an average of 12,000 visits a month (all-India), of which, nearly half, i.e. 6,000 visits a month have occurred in Bangalore alone. “A huge amount of our customers are people who take annual packages for their parents,” points out Ganesh.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 3:23:58 AM |

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