Health

Health-tech startup 'Together for Her' aims to streamline maternity care in India

Driven by data, Together for Her earns a placement in the prestigious F-LANE accelerator programme by Vodafone Institute in Berlin

With hospitals mushrooming in almost every city neighbourhood across the country, many find themselves picking a maternity hospital or clinic by word-of-mouth or by going through whichever doctor they trust. But what if you’re new to a city and the basic medical Yelp-like e-platforms lose their credibility? It’s safe to say a ‘verified review’ badge doesn’t vouch for much these days.

With everything going mobile, Avegen health-tech startup decided to go deeper with data and they broke the surface with Together for Her (TfH), a maternal health solution for women in India, a sub-sect of Avegen. TfH is enabled by HealthMachine™, Avegen’s care management system and mother companion app. To keep the movement going, TfH has been selected to join the Berlin-based Vodafone Institute’s F-LANE Accelerator. As one of the five ventures chosen from 280 applicants worldwide, and the only Asian winner, TfH will join the seven week-programme in Berlin.

Mothers, not users

Dr Nayan Kalnad is a clinician and has worked in digital health for close to 11 years. He is the CEO of Avegen and has observed the scalable growth of TfH since its inception. At the current stage, TfH is an app for mothers, as well as a health-tracking software for hospitals, but most importantly, it isn’t a replacement for doctors.

When asking him how scalable it currently is, he responds, “Right now, the software is available in Hindi, English and Marathi, but other languages can be added, when needed. The software also allows for localisation in terms of hospital preferences. If, in some areas, certain tests are not available or not needed (i.e. certain vaccinations), the software allows for personalisation with minimal effort. The key requirement is to make hospitals, as well as mothers, aware of the solution. We are now raising capital to expand our footprint in India and internationally. We are currently active in five states in India, have over 30,000 reviews and over 1,000 hospitals reviewed. We are currently expanding our pilot in bundled services from Pune to multiple cities in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which only requires a willingness from the provider to agree to partner with us. There are no additional implementation costs from our side.”

According to 2015 datasets from UNICEF, more than 44,000 women in India die each year from pregnancy-related causes and less than 40% of women in India receive antenatal care. These statistics alone are enough for a patient to feel lost. “In order to prevent the major complications causing maternal death, one of the key requirements is that women have access to healthcare and receive comprehensive, evidence-based, proactive care,” points out Dr Nayan. He adds that this basic requirement is often not met. According to National Family Health Survey 2015-16 data extrapolations, an astounding 60% of women did not go for an antenatal check in their first trimester, and more than three in 10 Indian women did not receive postnatal care within two days of delivery (International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) and ICF, 2015-2016).

He continues to explain that the lower-income bracket of the market is where they’re aiming a good deal of their services all by creating a comprehensive end-to-end experience from laboratory work to antenatal services. Dr Nayan adds, “The care bundle also includes access to relevant knowledge and community support through a vernacular mobile app. Lastly, by offering this bundled care at a transparent price-point that transfers the price benefits of aggregated demand to the mother, and offering the option to spread the costs through monthly payments, the bundles foster affordability. In this way, we take away the four key barriers why women do not access healthcare.” That said, the platform is careful that there isn’t an information overload. In terms of impact, they developed a real-time, reliable, quality-of-care metric, by launching a mother feedback-based review platform, that allows new mothers receiving care in private hospitals registered with us, to provide objective actionable feedback on their delivery experience.

Fast lane?

So what can they look forward to at the F-LANE programme? Dr Nayan explains that the real-time collaboration and development that TfH will undergo will be more tangible, given the platform of the international femtech and social impact industry. He mentions the globalisation opportunities too, “It allows us to step back from our daily operations and focus on mid and long-term strategy. We are also able to learn from the other start-ups that are present from Ghana, Nigeria, UK and Germany. Seeing how other companies tackle similar problems, even though in different markets or industries, will allow for tremendous learning opportunities.”

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Printable version | May 18, 2020 11:56:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/health-tech-startup-together-for-her-aims-to-streamline-maternity-care/article28825445.ece

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