Ikure Techsoft in partnership with Aegle Angles Foundation has come up with an innovative social-entrepreneurship driven architecture. It aims to build ‘readily available’ and ‘reasonable’ systems for tertiary health solutions for low-cost and scalable health products and services. In a tête-à-tête, Sujay Santra, Managing Director, Aegle Angels Foundation and Founder Director Ikure Techsoft (P) Ltd shares his journey so far.
RK: Tell me something about Ikure Techsoft?
SS: Ikure Techsoft is a technology based company in India. Ikure has come up with various innovative products and solutions in the field of healthcare. The area of research is–remote monitoring, teleradiology, Hosted HIS, telepathology, mobile technology in health-care.
RK: Shed some light on the inception of Ikure Techsoft?
SS: Studies show that in India during emergency conditions, a patient can find the nearest hospital at a distance not less than 400 miles away. Thus, Ikure was started in 2009 and partnered with Aegle Angles Foundation in 2010 to setup kiosks in rural parts of India to meet the rising medical demand in rural India. Every ‘health kiosk’ is facilitated with Rural Medical Practitioner (RMP) trained by the specialists using advanced technology. The RMP helps patients suffering for different ailments and take readings of his BP, Blood Sugar, Electrocardiogram (ECG), Weight, Height, Pulse, etc. These readings are wirelessly logged into the system using Ikure’s innovative product called WHIMS (Wireless Health Incident Monitoring System). His analysis and prescription enters into the system and based on the patient’s test results, the RMP can prescribe medicines. In case of complicated cases, the patient may need special medical advice. For this he/she is referred by the RMP to a hospital attached (contracted) to the kiosk. Hence, these special health centres called ‘health kiosks’ guide patients in getting better access to doctors without venturing very far from their home. In case of an emergency these patients are escalated to the hospitals.
RK: How did the idea for health kiosk come about?
SS: The idea of the health kiosk was coined by Prof. Dhrubes Biswas, the chief mentor of the concept. The problem of healthcare sector remains unaddressed for most of the underdeveloped and developing nations on account of its nature and importance in the nation’s economy. Besides, primary care services offered by organisations worldwide, there is an urgent need for initiating Tertiary Healthcare Services stemming from technologically disruptive solutions to cater to the healthcare problems of affordability, accessibility and availability. This has brought the need for these kiosks.
RK: What was the inspiration behind opting for franchise route for expansion?
SS: Having successfully established 15 kiosks in the eastern parts of India, we thought of expanding it pan India. Franchising is the fastest and proven business model for expansion. Therefore, we planned to opt for franchise route to open these health kiosks.
RK: What is the eligibility criterion for selecting the franchisees?
SS: Basically, franchisees with a graduate degree and a mindset to work in the community (remote areas) are preferred. One should have basic knowledge in the healthcare delivery model for rural kiosks.
RK: How much investment is required to take up the franchise business?
SS: The investment required is between Rs 4-5 lakh. This includes the franchise fee, laptop, basic medical equipments, remote monitoring devices, and the software. It does not include the cost of the infrastructure, aesthetics and design.
RK: Did you face any challenges while establishing your business? If yes, what were they and how did you overcome these challenges?
SS: The challenges were many both in terms of technology as well as on deployment. On technology front, the medical devices in the market come in analog & digital format. Moreover, every device needs to be configured for it to enable the automatic digital transmission of data through Zigbee, Wifi or anyother available network. Moreover, in case of reports like ECG it becomes even more difficult to optimise the ECG data so that it can be transmitted wirelessly. So it took almost one year of sleepless nights to develop the WHIMS product reuired for Ikure Technology. Also, the deployment challenges were also many. Right from choosing the right entrepreneur in the community to right locations, operations etc. there are several day-to-day challenges. Ashok and Arunangshu, mentors had a major role in meeting those challenges.
RK: What are the company’s future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
SS: At present we have 15 kiosks in eastern parts of India. The company is targeting 100 kiosks by July 2011 via franchising. We also have plans to expand pan India both by company and franchised model.
RK: Any advice for the young entrepreneurs?
SS: Tough times do not last but tough people do. Believe in your dreams and be passionate about it. You will achieve your mission.