Rajinish Menon, founder, and CEO at Sukino Healthcare tells us about long-term healthcare management.
First, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rajinish Menon: This pandemic has taught me and my family some great lessons by putting us through a very challenging and perplexing time. While the pandemic’s effects were severe and widespread, I think Covid-19 has taught families the importance of maintaining a work-life balance. I have been blessed with a family who fought the pandemic tooth and nail. Initially, we grappled with the uncertainty, but soon enough the new normal started to sync in and we became more patient and resilient, as time passed. And things are only getting better.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Sukino Healthcare?
Rajinish Menon: We had seen our loved ones grapple with illnesses and suffer due to an inconsistent and ill-equipped healthcare system. In my case, my mother went through frequent periods of hospitalization. Sometimes it was for surgery (till date she has had nine surgeries) whilst at other times, it was to manage her pre-existing CVD and Neuro conditions. Each time, it was a period filled with uncertainty. While we always held onto our faith, there were certain times when we just did not know what to do and could see the system failing.
Here in India, we have piecemeal working systems, and it is left to the patient’s family to sew it together and one can imagine how sewing feels when a loved one is in such a hard-hitting situation. And in my case, my mother’s condition was fast going down to an ‘acute intervention state’ at times. This is when I thought of the CRM processes that enterprises have and how such systems enable one to call and get a specially customized warm welcome and a solution. A case in point being the American Express card division. They seem to know it all and that is exactly what I wanted in healthcare too. Someone who understood my mom’s case and provided continual and consistent specialized advice, and actively participated in the recovery process, with their expertise.
This was the pain point I had discussed with my founding friends. We sensed there was an intrinsic need to bridge the gap between post-hospital discharge and optimal recovery for patients, especially for those in need of transitory care. This urged us to explore further and we worked ceaselessly towards formulating a comprehensive healthcare module. We wanted to offer the finest quality of continuum care services using a combination of clinical expertise, skilled manpower, and advanced technology to alleviate the physical and emotional pain in patients. Thus, Sukino was born.
How does Sukino Healthcare innovate?
Rajinish Menon: We are in the core healthcare services sector and for the same, we must understand the new age developments and innovation in various fields of chronic ailments. Of course, this is needed from a perspective of keeping our patrons updated on the latest available treatment procedures and protocols. We follow the treatment plans of the primary consultant, and unless there is an emergency, we never do anything contrary to what the primary consultant would have advised. Hence, keeping abreast of the advancements and helping patients and their families understand every aspect of our specialized care is in the very DNA that we do. Our knowledge advancement is primarily through the daily interactions we have, with almost all the specialist consultants of our patients. These experts are based both within India and abroad. Interacting with such a diaspora gives us a good information flow.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Rajinish Menon: The pandemic has not affected us in any way because our vision, mission, and all focus is geared at taking care of patients who need extended care. As a matter of fact, times like these are when patient families need us more than ever when the need is to be a trusted partner, a dependable partner, and an economically viable partner.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Rajinish Menon: No we didn’t go through any attrition of sorts and we didn’t have to let go of any staff. As I wrote before our kind of model and care was acutely felt and we are happy all our staff members partnered with us during these trying times and am sure not only would they have felt good but they would have also learned many things both in their career and life!
How did your patient relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Rajinish Menon: Any patient that requires out-of-hospital care can access our services. Specifically speaking, our services are the most relevant for patients who suffer from chronic illnesses like Neurological impairments, kidney diseases, cardiac disorders, cancer, respiratory distress, and postoperative clinical care.
We started with the homecare segment as we believed that through this channel, we could initiate conversations with medical consultants to break through the healthcare segment. We could also understand the nuances of patient needs post which we initiated to evangelize the model of continuum care amongst physicians and patient families. Once we had established ourselves in this segment, we ventured out to open continuum care centers and onboard patients.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Rajinish Menon: We started Sukino with a small investment of fewer than $15,000. Our vision, right from our inception was to start from the ground up, understand the market trends and needs and go on to perfect our initial revenue models, post which we proceeded to invest for growth. Post our investment, we have raised $1.5 million cumulatively from marquee HNIs who have invested in their personal capacity and few others through their family offices like Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-Founder, Infosys who has invested through his family office, Pratithi Investment Trust.
Your final thoughts?
Rajinish Menon: We are very happy to share that we have helped more than 5000 patients to date, to get better in their journey of recuperation and rehabilitation. Even in the case of providing palliation, the number of gratitude letters we get from our patrons runs into a good sizeable three-digit number. For us, this kind of positive feedback is a huge validation of our model, something we are immensely proud of. Setting up 200 plus beds across five centers proves the acceptance of our model and now we are in the process of expansion so that more patients can benefit. When specialist consultants seek you out, it means you are doing something right!
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