We talked to Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram, founder of Sehat Kahani, about affordable healthcare access and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram: COVID-19 has had an impact on countless lives globally, and I have witnessed it firsthand. However, receiving adequate support from both personal and professional family enabled me to manage my team remotely during the pandemic and be effective.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Sehat Kahani.
Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram: In Pakistan majority of our medical workforce is female but unfortunately, only 1 out of 4 female doctors ever get into formal practice due to social-cultural pressures & end up becoming doctor brides. In the same country, 50% and more of our population never get to see a doctor in their lifetime. On this very principle, Sehat Kahani’s foundation was laid connecting these 2 gaps together through the bridge of technology.
How does Sehat Kahani innovate?
Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram: We connect an all-female health provider network to patients who need healthcare using a telemedicine-based solution. In low-income communities where people don’t have access to smartphones & internet is not readily available we create nurse-led telemedicine clinics where patients walk in and nurse connects them to online doctors. In urban areas, we also have a mobile application and helpline through which patients can connect independently & talk to a doctor 24/7 in less than 3 clicks in less than 60 seconds.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram: At the end of 2019, as the world was massively hit by the COVID-19 pandemic triggering a global health and economic crisis, the demand for telemedicine and virtual access to doctors increased exponentially. Pakistan, a country where around 50% of the population of 200 million has no access to quality health care, saw a rapid uptake of telemedicine-based initiatives to mitigate the massive doctor-patient gap, given that the nation was under a major lockdown. During the time COVID-19 was at its peak in Pakistan, the provincial and federal government-endorsed Sehat Kahani as their official telemedicine partner and we were able to provide 130,000 free online consultations to the masses using our telemedicine solutions, further catering to over 5000+ COVID-19 patients. Sehat Kahani also partnered with around 50+ corporations and pharmaceutical companies to provide 24/7 specialized clinical care for their employees through its corporate mobile application. Furthermore, with the banking sector taking up on digital health initiatives, we also became the first telemedicine platform to be integrated with 2 leading banking apps in Pakistan, HBL and Al Falah. In totality we were able to increase our impact to 3.5 million beneficiaries, providing a total of 350,000 consultations to patients across the nations, emerging as the go-to telemedicine solution during the pandemic.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram: Sehat Kahani works across multiple verticals in the telemedicine domain, having physical presence as well as virtual, hence our competitors are brick and mortar clinics as well as other telemedicine-based organizations working in the same regions as us. However, we believe in bringing innovation to the field of telemedicine by introducing ideas specific to the need of the hour, democratizing healthcare for the masses of Pakistan.
The technology that Sehat Kahani has developed utilizes web standards and features HIPAA-compliant privacy controls and sharing preferences for each user while collecting and integrating data. We are also the data aggregators striving to streamline true health data in relation to primary health outcomes that have been underreported in Pakistan, further competing against gender-based socio-cultural barriers to delivering authentic and reliable healthcare services to the masses. Sehat Kahani has been in the field for the last 4 years, having the first movers advantage, piloting and iterating revenue streams, treating actual paying customers.
Our competitors usually focus on beneficiaries belonging to specific markets whereas our solution caters to deliver primary health services to all income markets with a special focus on women belonging to hard-to-reach communities. Our B2B solutions enable corporate businesses to use this app as a tool to meet the primary health needs of their employees through annual subscription plans based on service/employee cap, while our B2B2C solution is a sell-the-seller module where our application is integrated within third-party applications/models to provide telemedicine-based services to their consumers on a subscription-based model, giving us the opportunity to make the business sustainable through multiple business models.
In addition, unlike our competitors, we are delivering a holistic solution that comprises virtual appointments, SMS reminders, e-pharmacy, e-labs, and referrals. Our vision is to contribute to the country’s economy by social and financial empowerment of females by creating jobs for the unemployed female healthcare professional, building their capacity to extensively meet the overwhelming demands of the current pandemic, while ensuring healthcare is accessible to all in need.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram: If there is something we have learned from the pandemic/COVID is, it is absolutely integral to be resilient and organizations should be quick to adapt to the latest trends & changes. Customer satisfaction & retention should be every organization’s goal, in the process, it is imperative to provide quality services, and this is the model that Sehat Kahani follows. It’s doubtful anyone can stop you from growing into a large business irrespective of whether it is a pandemic or not if your heart is in the right place.
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