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Patient navigator service, courtesy XLRI boy

From doctor appointment to insurance claim, start-up to do it all

Swapneswar Sahu

Jamshedpur: In a couple of months from now, the steel city can look forward to a patient navigator service, a concept popular in first world nations that promises to make availing healthcare facilities a breeze for elderly people living alone or those suffering from terminal illnesses.

Ayurveda practitioner from Balangir, Odisha, Swapneswar Sahu, who is about to complete his postgraduate programme for certificate in entrepreneurship management from XLRI, has decided to launch his start-up, Disha Health Navigation Service, in the city this June. The registration is scheduled for April 18.

"We aim to provide trained patient navigators on hire for 360-degree co-ordination of a patient's medical journey," the 37-year-old told this correspondent during a tête-à-tête on Friday.

Right from scheduling medical appointments, accompanying patients to doctors, noting down advice and conveying the same to patients to staying with the patient after admission, informing relatives about clinical developments, reminding patients of drug dosage, following up with doctors, liaising with insurance providers and maintaining medical records - the navigator will do it all.

Sahu, a bachelor of Ayurvedic medicine and surgery from Gopabandhu Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya in Puri (Odisha) and a healthcare management graduate from IIM-Calcutta, said he had already got in touch with more than 10 auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) for clinical help and graduate volunteers for non-clinical assistance.

"We shall start training the first batch once our start-up is registered this month. The plan is to have around 50 ANMs and volunteers before we launch the patient navigation service in June," said Sahu who has had stints with Camomile Healthcare in Chennai and the world's largest emergency service provider, GVK EMRI in Calcutta, where he trained over 3,000 emergency technicians and over 5,000 first aid providers.

Start-up Disha will boast a website, a mobile app and a telephone number for total convenience.

"People will be able to access our service both offline and online. We plan to design a website and an app. We shall also have a unique easy-to-remember telephone number. Payment can be made through cash or Internet banking on our website and app," said Sahu, a life member of the Indian Society for Trauma and Acute Care and an emergency care trainer certified by the American Heart Association.

On the genesis of his brilliant start-up, Sahu said the idea struck him while talking to unaccompanied patients. "I have personally faced the problem too. My parents, who are senior citizens, require frequent hospital visits. In Jamshedpur and elsewhere, children often find it difficult to accompany elderly parents owing to geographical limits or busy schedules. Seniors face problems in understanding complex hospital rules and procedures, let alone the tedious medical claim process. This is where we step in."

The management graduate also sees future market opportunities.

"After Jamshedpur, we plan to introduce the service in Hyderabad and Delhi. There is a huge market for patient navigators in India, with 8.1 per cent of the nearly 29.4 per cent urban population being elderly people. The percentage of seniors staying alone is nearly 5.2 and that of elderly people suffering from chronic diseases is 45.5. The market size is Rs 2.9 billion," Sahu summed up.

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