Mumbai resident Rekha Desai is a successful senior HR professional who loves to don many hats – wife, daughter, corporate leader and recently, a mother. In 2016, she stepped into the wonderful new world of motherhood with her twin babies and 5 months down the line realized that she needs professional help with managing the kids if she ever intends to go back to work. A search on the internet led her to Care24 – a Mumbai based startup that was incepted 4 years ago, with the simple thought of offering quality care to people at home, in their own comfort zones.
“I was looking for a nanny for the kids so I spoke to them at length, I liked their training process, interviewed some nannies and found someone who has been with me for more than a year now,” she says.
Rekha’s biggest concern was the safety factor and she was fearful of letting a stranger into her home for long hours and more so to handle her kids. But over the last one year, her experience with Care24 has been nothing but positive.
“What I like about Care24 is that they have highly trained and reliable professionals, their background check is very thorough and in case caregivers go on leave, the company is usually quick to find a replacement. Even if one has to pay a premium for their services, I’d say they’re worth it.”
Since then Rekha has gone on to hire two more 12-hour daily attendants from Care24 for her aged father-in-law and strongly recommends the company’s services to everyone she meets.
Care24 – The beginning
A chance meeting at an Alumni event of IIT Kanpur had Garima Tripathi and Vipin Pathak talking about the lack of quality in-home patient care services in India, particularly for the elderly. Tripathi had faced this difficulty personally while she pursued her education at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and looked for a caregiver for her family back home when someone fell ill. She saw a clear need gap that could be filled.
Between them, Tripathi and Pathak had rich and successful corporate experiences at some of the best known global names like PwC, Deloitte and EY. The two began brainstorming about offering quality medical care to patients at their doorstep and were soon headed towards their entrepreneurial journey and the inception of Care24.
“We started in 2014 with a small simple idea on how do we help the elderly at home and from there it has been a great journey. Today, we serve more than 1,000 people every single day in Mumbai and Delhi. Care24 is one of India’s first few venture backed start-ups in the home healthcare space which offers personal healthcare assistance within the comforts of one’s home” says Pathak.
Care24’s gamut of services
Care24 offers a plethora of services – from nurses, attendants and caregivers at home to physiotherapy, pregnancy, post-partum and infant care, neuro-rehabilitation and cancer care, bedridden care, geriatric care, assisted daily living to even palliative care.
Tripathi says, “We facilitate continuity of care at home right from prescription to complete recovery. The demand for home-based healthcare services is accelerating in India. The investment in healthcare in India remains promising with over $4 Billion invested in traditional business and new age health-tech, homecare, condition management companies. The market opportunity is huge.”
It’s still early days for the organized home health care segment in India and Pathak welcomes competition in the category saying “Care24 ensures 24/7 availability, transparent pricing and speedy services to provide the right care at the right time. This sums up our USP. Competition is tough but what makes me happy is that all we home care service providers are striving to provide quality care to our patients and their families. We all as a unit, as a system are working towards building a healthier and safer nation.”
The best healing happens at home
While Care24 offers services to various groups of patients like pregnant women, infants, senior citizens, cancer patients etc., its philosophy in giving care remains constant.
“All these users irrespective of their age are more in the need of care and compassion to heal at home. They are more of the dependent users. Based on their medical condition, our approach does change but the basic rule to serve them is the same that is, we emphasize on the mantra that these patients will heal better at home with more care and compassion”, says Pathak.
Despite catering to all age groups and various illnesses, Care24’s special focus remains on senior citizens.
Tripathi says, “By 2050, 1 out of every 5 Indians would be over 65 years old and the health of these senior citizens needs to be a collective concern and India as a nation needs to be prepared to take care of them.”
Beating the challenges
Perhaps the biggest concern of a user of home healthcare services is the security of the home and loved ones and the qualifications of the staff being hired. To allay these fears, Care24 has put in place a robust security and background verification process that involves submission of a government identification proof, local address proof and verification of court and criminal records of a caregiver before s/he is on-boarded. The company also has an active team of retired police officers in Delhi and Mumbai that helps with background checks and contributes towards training these caregivers.
“As a healthcare system, we are still lacking in areas of education, awareness and technology. Also, there are cracks in the users’ approach which needs to be changed. People are still skeptical over taking homecare services to look after their elder members of the family due to societal pressure and stagnant mentality. Caregiver motivation and change in home healthcare management is the need of the hour,” says Pathak.
300% growth in the last year
A business that began with a seed funding of INR 2.2 Crores by India Quotient was further enabled by a Series A round of USD 4 Million by SAIF Partners that allowed Care24 to enhance its technology, strengthen teams, invest in world-class training processes, deepen customer reach and establish standardized care as well as quality assurance. The net result – a 300% growth from the last year!
Growing the Business
Garima’s compassion and zest to innovate in the healthcare space coupled with Vipin’s keen understanding of technology as well as numbers has helped Care24 to scale up and touch more and more lives. As of now the company operates only in Mumbai and Delhi but plans to increase its footprint to other large metros over the next 18 months. Having served over 40,000 patients and trained over 5,000 caregivers in the last 4 years, Care24 has carved a niche for itself in the home healthcare space and now plans to invest heavily in training every caregiver who comes aboard.
Pathak believes that rapidly transforming medical technology together with the changing practice patterns of doctors has completely revolutionized the way health care is being delivered today.
“We have leveraged technology in systems and processes which helps in getting stringent feedback, monitoring of treatment and reaching the customer 24/7. The use of tech in this highly un-fragmented industry can be game changing which is the approach of Care24,” he says.
On the marketing and advertising fronts as well, Care24 is using cost effective channels that aid the brand’s organic growth. “We have synced online and offline mediums. Our strategy is to grow through performance and we will let customer satisfaction build our goodwill rather than just playing around with fancy advertisements,” says Pathak.
The Big Dream
As Care24 navigates its way through the tumultuous sea that’s the Indian healthcare system, it is strongly anchored in its core philosophy of offering world class services at home.
“Our mission is to make home-healthcare reliable, accessible and affordable. Our long term vision is to be the largest platform for delivering healthcare to home. We are aiming at a flawless delivery module of medical expertise in our chosen markets,” says Tripathi. On the mantra for the success so far, Pathak quips, “An individual must have these three qualities to achieve success – s/he must be a leader, should be caring and focused. Also, experimenting is the key, unless you don’t ‘try’ you’ll be stuck with the ‘whys!”