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Home Healthcare 31 Mar 2015

Home Healthcare has immense opportunity: IHHC President

Wellness India gets candid with President of Bangalore based India Home Health Care, Dr Anitha Arockiasamy to understand the current scenario of Home Healthcare services in India and more.

Started functioning in 2009, India Home Health Care (IHHC) is the first institutionalised home healthcare providers in the country. Wellness India got in touch with Dr Anitha Arockiasamy, President of IHHC to learn more about the company and services it offers and to understand how maturely Indian consumer is adopting it. 

India Home Health Care is a dedicated unit providing home healthcare facility. What made you conceptualise this unique way of serving people?

We started in 2009 and were one of the first institutionalized providers in the country. The idea took shape after one of our founders V. Thiagarajan was faced with a need for home care for one of his NRI friend’s mom. They did find a lot of options but none were of quality that they could rely on. They realized that the patient actually faced risks associated with safety, both clinically and non-clinically. When this was an established multibillion dollar industry in the West, we could not find the reason why India did not have organized providers that could assure patients of quality and reliability. This experience sowed the seed for India Home Health Care.

In which cities India Home Health Care is available? How you function across these cities?

Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad

How much seed capital has been invested while establishing this project?

Rs 5 crore

What are the opportunities and challenges Home Healthcare service providers are facing at the moment?

Opportunities are immense. Given that our aging population is increasing at a rapid rate and that chronic diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent, there is an acute need for more and more patients to receive care at their own homes, rather than hospitals (which are becoming acute care facilities). With the general population becoming more aware of the benefits of receiving health care at home ie faster recovery at a lower cost, the demand is only going to exponentially increase.

Finding good, reliable people who are willing to work by the patient’s bedside at their home is a key challenge. Also, creating awareness in the market that home health is not another domestic housekeeping agency and sensitizing the market about the cost of this level of service are some of the other challenges.

As of date, since home health is all private pay, only the higher end of the socioeconomic spectrum is able to afford our services. Extending insurance coverage to home health care will make it more affordable by everyone.

What kind of services your clients/patients demand often and why? How do you successfully deliver the required services?

India Home Health Care specialises in long duration shift based nursing care at home. Majority of our clients are 65 years and above. Some of them just need assistance with daily living activities, while the others need nursing care to recover after hospitalisation which could be for stroke, cancer care, orthopaedic surgeries etc. We take care of an increasing number of patients who are discharged home with tracheostomies and ventilators. We also see an increasing demand for new mother and new born care at home.

Shift based care requires a lot of coordination between the field and the office team. As each patient is unique and each family dynamic is different, the field staff needs to be coached and trained to be able to adapt and adjust to the situation at the homes where they are assigned. This is done through recruiting the right staff, doing two level reference checks, providing initial and on-going skills assessment and training by our Client Care Coordinators.

Every service is initiated with a pre-assessment by our Client Care Coordinator who is a Registered Nurse with more than 5 years of experience in Critical Care. Each patient has a Client Service Manager and a Client Care Coordinator working with him/her. The Coordinator also visits the patient’s home on a weekly basis to understand the progress of the disease condition and also to assess the service quality levels.

Our entire client relationship process is handled by technology developed in-house to reflect the processes we follow. The Client Care Coordinators carry tablets that enable them to update the patient information at the point of care itself. Our clients have access to a portal through which they can view the details related to their service and can share the same with their treating doctors or family members.

India’s healthcare market is still immature to accept and adopt Home healthcare services, which is cheap in comparison with general hospitals. Elaborate on the cost comparison of the services offered by both home healthcare and regular healthcare units.

Patients can reduce their healthcare cost by 85 per cent if they opt for home health services. If the patient is in the hospital only for nursing care and nursing procedures, it is a win-win for all the stakeholders involved. The patient gets personalized nursing care in the comfort and convenience of his home at a fraction of the cost. The hospital is able to free-up the bed for another patient who needs acute care.

What initiative do you take to spread awareness and educate people about the benefits of home healthcare system?

We undertake a lot of PR campaigns. We organise awareness camps at corporates, residential communities and nursing institutions. We also run a blog which is updated weekly with articles on the advantages of home care and how it benefits the patients. Moreover, we have also been part of task forces working with the Government on various initiatives for the geriatric population, including organizing and regulating home health providers.

What is your long term vision with India Home Health Care? Which is your next expansion market across India?

We want to leave a lasting legacy. We are a long term player whose mission is to provide care with compassion, excellence and reliability at the patients’ homes. We are expanding in more cities and also starting more offices locally in the cities from where we can operate easily.

Do you have or planning for merger/acquisition with international healthcare companies? Please share elaborate details.

26 per cent of our equity is already owned by Bayada Home Health Care, which is a 40 year old home health provider in the US, with 23,000 nurses and aides and more than a billion dollar in revenue.

What suggestions do you have for the small and medium upcoming home healthcare companies or aspiring entrepreneurs in the category?

The only suggestion would be to get the basics right. The management needs to understand issues at the ground level, the difficulties to ensure that the right staff turns up at the patient’s house at the right time, day in and day out and providing the care with compassion and excellence. For organisations that are growing and deploying hundreds of staff, basic processes and protocols need to be in place to ensure that this happens. Also, having a right team that is passionate about home care is a critical success factor. It is all about the people!

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