Even as the service standards of hospitals have improved tremendously, post-hospitalisation healthcare continues to be fledgling and unorganised. People looking for care at home have to go from pillar to post in their search for a dependable nurse or service provider for medical procedures.
It isn’t just patients recovering from surgeries, even the elderly needs long-term clinical support at home, as do patients on regular peritoneal dialysis and diabetes treatment. After spending decades in large technology companies and successfully launching online tutoring company TutorVista, which she co-founded with her husband K Ganesh, Meena Ganesh was quick enough the address this gap through her health-tech start-up Portea Medical. The couple had also made early bets in successful e-commerce platforms such as BigBasket, FreshMenu and BlueStone to mention a few, through venture builder platform GrowthStory.
Ganesh, an IIM-Calcutta alumnus, believes that a business model like Portea has a long way to go. Speaking to Hello Vizag Meena Ganesh, CEO & MD of Portea Medical, said “fifty per cent of healthcare spend happens outside of the hospital and that is an area that has received little focus. It is a very, very large space with huge disruption potential,”. One key learning was from the hassles she herself faced, having to take care of her ailing parents. “…it was really harrowing to even get a nurse to do some basic things for somebody needing post-operative care.” Ganesh added.
In 2013, having just exited Tutor Vista, her earlier e-learning venture which was sold to global education major Pearson, Ganesh along with her serial entrepreneur husband began looking for new opportunities. The duo created Growth Story, a firm that would incubate and support multiple businesses, and one of the first firms launched from the stable was Portea Medical.
What’s on offer
Cut to six years later, Portea has established itself as a leader in home healthcare, having completed 2.5 million home visits for various services. With an on-roll staff of 4,000, including doctors and care givers, Portea today covers 16 cities with its range of services which include physiotherapy, nursing, attendant/home health aide, doctor visit, lab tests, and mother care.
Portea’s home care solutions are designed for a number of categories. Critical care for someone suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes or kidney malfunction and needing regular dialysis at home; ‘elderly care’ for aged people needing constant monitoring; ‘nursing services’ for post-operative or post-pregnancy care. It also supports one-off engagements like physiotherapy and vaccination.
“There are patients who might have suffered from a stroke recently, or someone who’s suffering from cancer. People sometimes prefer to receive care at home. We manage that end-to-end,” says Ganesh.
For this, the company has built its own teams of doctors and care-givers. It owns and manages clinical equipment, including ventilators, semi-fowler beds and oxygen concentrator, according to Ganesh. The firm also has its own technology platform to help its healthcare providers adhere to standard operating procedures, get access to diagnostic tools, share information, and manage records for each patient. The fact that all equipment and staff are in-house, this gives Portea a solid handle over the quality of healthcare it is able to provide.
In terms of business model, Portea has partnerships with some 50 leading hospitals in the country, which refer patients to the company. This forms 50 per cent of the company’s users while the other half come organically to the platform.
In November 2017, Portea raised $26 million in a Series C funding round led by Sabre Partners and Manipal Group’s MEMG CDC fund. Earlier it got $37.5 million in Series B funding and $9 million in Series A funding led by Accel partners. Other investors include International Finance Corporation and Qualcomm Ventures, VenturEast, IFC Venture Capital Group.
Within home-care, elderly care is an important focus area for Portea. “Look at demographics. The cohort of people is the 60s is growing much faster than the younger people. If you see 80 plus bracket, that is growing the faster. They are living longer with a lot of diseases. So who is going to take care of them?” Having built a solid base, Portea is now on a firm footing to address the home Care space which is estimated to be a $5-billion opportunity in the country.