Healing At Your Doorsteps
Portea Medical brings world-class healthcare standards to home-based medical care.By Rajalakshmy R
For Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO of Portea Medical, India’s largest and fastest-growing home healthcare company, it was an incident in her personal life that led to the setting up of the company. “There was a crucial period in my life wherein my parents faced severe health issues between 2008 and 2010,” she says. “The in-hospital care that they received was undoubtedly excellent. However, they required medical support after being discharged from the hospital as well. Their treatment and rehabilitation were in question for about two weeks as I scoured for at-home nurses and caregivers. These experiences made me realize the critical gap in the area of home healthcare in India.”
Embarking on its journey in 2013, Portea faced several challenges, some of which are still a constant struggle for the company, like the recruitment of skilled nurses and other allied professionals, along with upskilling hospital employees. “Despite that, we have been able to employ over 10,000 people across India, including skilled clinicians, nurses, and attendants,” says Ganesh. “We also came up with innovative recruitment strategies by partnering with the National Skill Development Council (NSCS) to mobilize youth from underprivileged rural areas, train them, and offer them a livelihood as patient caregivers.” On the other hand, the challenges that Portea continues to face include the lack of insurance coverage and lack of government expenditure on home healthcare. The latter, says Ganesh, is in fact among the lowest, especially when compared to countries like the USA and China. “We will continue to focus on strengthening our offerings until a time comes when policies and standards are created to regularise the home healthcare industry in India,” she affirms.
Portea provides a range of home-healthcare services ranging from physiotherapy, nursing, attendant/home health aides, elder care, doctor visits, and lab tests, to newborn care, as well as care for new mothers. Of the long list of services, the most challenging one to set up was elderly care, says Ganesh; the reasons were many, including the tremendous mood swings, depression, and feelings of neglect that the elderly face. “Critical care ICU set-ups were initially challenging in terms of persuading patients and their families,” says Ganesh, when asked about the challenges faced while setting up healthcare services at home. “But as people realized the high-quality of services and cost-effectiveness, they not only gave their stamp of approval, but their word-of-mouth recommendations also led to more traction.” All processes under Portea are medically supervised.
Doctor supervision, which is the most crucial part of providing critical care at home, is provided after creating a treatment plan for the patient; this is done jointly by Portea and the treating consultant. “With doctors who deploy highly sophisticated devices along with well-trained nurses, we replicate the hospital-quality care at home for the patients,” says Ganesh. The factor that makes Portea stand out and deserving of applause is the fact that it provides quality healthcare facilities at affordable prices without compromising on quality. Portea offers cost-effectiveness because when compared with in-hospital services, such services at home cost nearly five times less. “In addition, we respect the fact that the modern consumer is not only knowledgeable but also demanding of the best services available,” says Ganesh. “Therefore, we ensure that all our employees, infrastructure, and equipment are straight from the top drawer.” Apart from at-home healthcare services, Portea takes a proactive approach to corporate social responsibility.
In collaboration with InnoVen Capital, it conducted 26 health checkup camps for the elderly at old-age homes and NGOs across four cities. The camps included lab packages and doctor consultations; the camps helped 770 senior citizens in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. The initiative, which was well-received, offered cardiac, liver, kidney, bone, diabetes, thyroid, and blood checkups. Portea intends to continue such initiatives with the motive of creating a difference and addressing the healthcare needs of the underprivileged. Portea won Startup of the Year in the health-tech category by NDTV Unicorn Awards and Emerging Health Brand of the Year at the Indian Health Summit & Awards in 2016, besides winning the ET Startup Awards the same year. Porter’s future plans include tie-ups with NGOs and event agencies to create workshops and events for enrolled members of its new service line, Portea Health Prime, which looks at providing care for the elderly. The startup, which has a presence in some of India’s major cities such as Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Indore, and the Delhi NCR region, plans to extend its services across more cities in the coming year.
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