The trying times of Covid-19 have opened immense opportunities in the healthcare sector. Only few winners have been able to make the most of these testing times, when the world economy is shaking. Fortunately, Karma Primary Healthcare was amongst these go-getters and this offered me an opportunity to work for a healthcare start up, something which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Owing to my background, I had always been immensely interested in the healthcare sector, in particular and was on a look out for a first-hand start up experience. Karma Primary Healthcare, a start-up that is bridging the existing healthcare divide in the Indian healthcare system between the urban and rural areas, digitally, provides patients in remote areas with a resource which becomes more important in these times.

Quality healthcare as a market opportunity

Karma, which runs on an innovative nurse-assisted clinics model, backed by a well-developed software has several ongoing projects, few of which I was given the opportunity to be a part of. During my brief stint, I worked on a variety of external and internal projects. I started off working with a pilot project with the Bombay Municipal Corporation, Tata Bridgital and Arogya Setu – Swasth. All of these were great projects, which showed the kind of scale at which Covid related projects had picked up. All of these were based on Karma’s Doctor as a Service model.

This was followed by other external projects such as the one with Innovators in Health, India (IIH), where Karma offered its highly developed Software as a Service, Covid related data project with IIM Udaipur and several internal projects such as Feedback process, Prescription Audits and Telemedicine training of Doctors. All of these gave me in depth insight into the currently transforming healthcare sector and allowed me to closely observe this process.

The future of healthcare

The Indian healthcare industry is one of the biggest in the world. With the government laying down formal telemedicine guidelines and in times like a pandemic, services such as Telemedicine have become much more relevant. In India, a concept that did not exist a decade ago, In the last six years, the relentless work done by several groups of committed champions of telemedicine, has facilitated the developments made during Covid-19 to support modern healthcare delivery.

Karma Primary Healthcare is one such organization, where I got to deep dive into the various aspects and advancements in the current healthcare system and how these are now accessible to rural parts of the country. Acceptance of this modality remains a problem by the patients as well as specialists and the government, in addition to several other challenges like, designing cost-effective software and treatment units, patient data confidentiality, training of staff, nurses, doctors as well as beneficiaries to adopt this model, payment through a remote model, getting grants, subsidies, waivers to introduce this model, amongst others. Slowly, but the challenge of acceptance is being overcome through awareness campaigns and outreach programmes.

Primary healthcare is being made more affordable and accessible through the nurse-assisted e-doctor clinics, teleconsultation and tele-counseling over audio and video calls, delivery of medicines at home, record keeping and follow up through feedback, ensuring a seamless end to end healthcare delivery. During the course of my internship, I learnt about the on ground as well as the up-end challenges that a start up in the healthcare space faces in the day to day scenarios and how processes are designed to overcome them, one at a time.

Even though the units in the suburban parts of the country are progressing aggressively with faster adoption and improved results, outcomes may not always be uniform throughout. And yet, with continued focus and innovation at each step, a broad view and comprehensive perspective can take primary healthcare a long way.

The Internship Experience

Karma healthcare has a team aligned behind a vision. The Karma team ensured that the internship was seamless. Everybody that I worked with during the remote internship was as dedicated and committed to the vision of Karma as a social enterprise demands and was always available on call. This was the first opportunity for me to be managing people, which helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses and as an individual, I feel better equipped to be working with teams of various kinds as well as external stakeholders.

The variety of pieces helped me understand more about my hard and soft skills. The Karma team ensured that we were well connected with the everyone as well as with the vision of Karma and organized Zoom call events such as the CEO Stand up and a very insightful work shop by Dr. Arvind for all employees. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Jagdeep, for being a mentor, a coach, someone who is always easily approachable as well as someone who always pushes his employees to exceed expectations, perform well and broaden their knowledge. I have had a lot to learn from his way of working, the way he runs the company and the passion and the vision that he has for primary healthcare.

Personally, I had a wonderful time with the environment that I was provided, working across the cross functional Karma teams. I enjoyed the interactive sessions conducted for team building and the regular WhatsApp interactions across teams. The overall experience of this internship has been extremely enriching in terms of industry knowledge, work ethics, ownership of tasks, decision making, team work, dealing with external stakeholders, all of which really aided to my professional and personal growth.