healthi, a fast growing digital preventive health startup has grown 9x in the first two years of its operations. Rekuram Varadharaj, Co-Founder and COO, healthi talks about the company’s vison, its business model, various initiatives, tie ups with Government of India and more, in an interaction with Prathiba Raju
How did the concept of healthi evolve?
I used to opt for preventive health checkups as a personal choice but I realised that the results were not that clear. Similarly, another person from Stanford (US), after his annual health checkup was unable to completely understand, how to correlate the test results with his health status. All these tests gave gave common solutions like diet and exercise but there was no complete, individual, analysis. We wanted to make a module to come out with easy-to-understand reports, so that one can easily seek expert help and guidance from specialists after understanding their health status. Our main focus was to demystify health and make it simple. At the same time, we wanted to answer three simple questions – ‘How healthy am 1?’ ‘What do I need to continue or change in order to stay or get healthy?’ ‘Who can help?’. So, this was the genesis of healthi which started its operations in May 2014.
Before we started off, for almost a year we had to work on predictive analysis. Our team consists of data scientist, bio statistician and population health experts. They can understand health data and come up with scientifically valid models which can predict chronic disease. healthi offers a personalised health check package which is tailor-made for individuals based on their unique needs from millions of potential options. In partnership with leading healthcare brands, we deliver these programmes across the country. Right now, we are present in 130 countries and 600-plus locations across the country.
What efforts did you put in to promote disease prevention and wellness?
Anywhere between 40 to 60 million Indians, mostly from the organised workforce, go through annual health check-ups. 60 per cent of them are facilitated by companies and 40 per cent go on their own. Preventive healthcare sector is the fastest growing sector. Post health checkup, healthi’s comprehensive and simple reports enable users to understand their health status with ease. Our customer satisfaction scores are 94 per cent. Out of every 100 employees who participate via the corporate programme, nearly 50 people come back to us and do check-ups for their family members. We don’t just list out how their health is but also quantify the long term impact of those factors and make it clear to them that it couldn’t be ignored.
Be it the habit of smoking, poor diet, less exercise or high stress, combined with an individual’s genetic predisposition, they mean that he/ she had a high risk of diabetes and heart disease. We create a plan and connect them with appropriate doctors and other specialists so that they get on the path towards better health. Our packages start from Rs 300 and can go up to thousands as per an individual’s needs. We are working with e-commerce, insurance, retail, financial services and IT/ ITeS corporate sector to easily roll out their preventive health programmes as well.
Can you elaborate more on the partnership with Government of India and others?
We have a unique research partnership with Government of India and are working on bringing efficacy in chronic disease prediction models. In three years of attending to users from the length and breath of the country, we are seeing certain trends and patterns in non communicable diseases (NCDs). For example, 80 per cent-plus women inform that health is a priority for them, however, a lot of them are anaemic, deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 and have high levels of TSH.
Apart from it, cancer detection and prevention is another blind spot. The two most prevalent cancers are breast cancer and cervical cancer. Nearly one in every three Indians are detected with cervical cancer, globally. So, we have thousands of people calling us from across the country. Data is collected seamlessly as every user adds to the global archive of knowledge.
At the moment, we have a large repository of longitudinal preventive healthcare data. We capture biometrics and lifestyle data to give them insights on their health. Without disclosing any personal data, healthi will come out with a study on the health landscape of India which will showcase how healthy we are as a country. The Ministry of Science and Biotechnology, Government of India, is interested in doing population-level health trends. We are bringing efficacy in chronic disease prediction in India. We have a primary research agreement but are yet to finalise the model. In addition to this, we have partnered with Mayo Clinic as it helps us to deliver personalised, clinically validated and relevant preventive health content to users.
Tell us more about the USP of healthi?
We are a healthcare technology and analytic company and our whole idea of healthcare in the digital context needs to be smart and personalised. It should be one size fit one, and not one size fit all. We measure our people’s aptitude towards health like how many of them are considering health as a priority and willing to change. healthi helps those who are willing to change to quickly access those changes. While for those who don’t, we educate them. It itself showcases in the name healthi — ‘i’ denotes intelligent and personalised. Health has a unique context, it was very important for us to have on board a team of advisers who are comfortable, both in healthcare and technology.
What is your user base now and how much do you want to achieve by the next fiscal?
We measure ourselves by the number of lives we touch. Last year, we had 150,000 plus users. Growing on an average of 9X, our ambition is to reach up to 1.6 million people by 2018. We are well set to touch the target.