Delivering affordable healthcare to the doorsteps of rural masses, India continues to face enormous challenges. With a population over one billion, rural India comprising of 840 million people are served by only 30 per cent of the country’s combined medical force. (Courtesy: KPMG Health Report). Out of which, three per cent of India’s physicians live in rural areas, and 25 per cent in semi-urban areas (read here). This is disproportionate, and an example of the Pareto Principle – where 20 per cent of the doctors serve 80 per cent of the population. Moreover, the morbidity rate in people reporting the same, in rural areas increased to 70 per cent in 2011 against 64 per cent in 2004. Rural India is critically flawed with inefficient heath care system.They either remain short of medical personnel or untrained officers.According to NRHM report, out of 22,000 primary healthcare centers, eight per cent do not have a doctor, 39% remain unattended without a lab technician and 17.7% without a pharmacist, and this is when, each primary health center is supposed to have at least one medical practitioner.
However, minimizing the existing gap in health care system requires technological support. Globally, use of Information and Communication technologies (ICT) has been identified as one of the major solutions to improve accessibility and affordability of healthcare services to the poor. iKure Techsoft, a technology start-up, has been established to leverage ICT’s strengths to extend healthcare services to India’s rural population.
iKure aims to create a comprehensive health solution that seamlessly reaches patients in rural areas through its innovative ‘Hub & Spoke’ model. The company has developed a software platform called Wireless Health Incident Monitoring System (WHIMS) that enables effective communication, integration and contact between rural medical practitioners (RMPs) and city-based doctor. WHIMS have already received both national and global recognition in the field of healthcare innovation.
Started with a team of 3 ex-Oracle employees, the company has been incubated at IIT Kharagpur with its software development center at Bangalore. Through partnerships with multiple stakeholders like healthcare providers, social development organizations, government agencies, corporate entities etc., iKure Techsoft intends to provide a technology platform that will help the stakeholders achieve their social and commercial objectives. iKure is currently running 20 Rural Centers in three districts of West Bengal & Ganjam District in Orissa in conjunction with CSR partners such as JSW, NGOs, and Govt. bodies & few as its own centers.
iKure healthcare delivery system is enabled with an innovative Hub & Spoke model. The operating system becomes handy in the context of multiple locations sourcing where the central consolidator called ‘Hub’ or the urban clinics provides medical assistance to its patients spread across different remote areas. ‘Spokes’ are the seamless extension of Hub leveraged to provide services across such locations. iKure with this comprehensive, cyclic model provides end-end services to the rural patients. The hospitals and clinics called Hubs receive readings of the patient that are sent for diagnosis by the rurally situated Spokes. Spokes powered by WHIMS are able to send medical records of the critical cases which require immediate intervention by the doctors, thus, minimizing the plight of the patient any further. So far, there are 21 spokes (RHCs) to one hub in the iKure model ensuring quality individual care.
Thus we see that the contributions of Remote Monitoring and Wireless Technologies to health care delivery are 3 fold. Access, especially to under privileged, and to provide better Quality at reduced Cost.