“Technology can pull a fractured healthcare system together”

Mentioned Kiran Kalakuntla, Founder and CEO of ekincare in an exclusive interaction with BioVoice where he shared details about the company's initiatives to improve healthcare services for corporates during COVID19, his views on the role of health technology besides his company's current operations, its vision, and the future. Read on:

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In the current internet age, people are still relying on a phone call to keep a tab on their parents’ health, but merely asking them daily about how they were doing over the phone does not serve the purpose. Hyderabad based corporate health benefits startup, eKincare was envisioned on the basis of similar personal experiences of its Founder, Kiran Kalakuntla who found out the needs of many NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) who were not able to contribute towards the healthcare of their families back home.
While Kiran was in Seattle in the USA, his parents were in Hyderabad, India. Kiran’s frustration further aggravated when his father went through a surgery and none of the family members located in Hyderabad could explain the root cause and why the surgery was recommended. It was with this idea in mind that Kiran ventured out to start ekincare – which means e (electronic) -Kin (one’s family) – care.
In an exclusive interaction with BioVoice, Kiran Kalakuntla, CEO of ekincare, shared details about the company’s current operations, its vision, and the future. Kiran believes that health technology has a greater role to play in correcting the gaps in the healthcare system. Here he also sheds light on the initiatives launched by his company to improve healthcare services for corporates during the COVID-19.

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What is the motivation and vision behind the startup? Any targets set for the next five years?
Kiran: The reason we decided to venture into healthcare was because of the complexity of the problem statement. Healthcare is a must-have, but the technology used in it, especially in India is completely outdated. The future of medicine is going to be predictive and preventive and we want to be a global platform for that. At ekincare, we want to optimize an individual’s as well as a group’s health risks using data and technology.
ekincare’s vision is to create a preventive, predictive and highly personalized healthcare journey for individuals to help them adopt a healthier lifestyle and empower the corporates with data and technology to reduce the overall health risks.
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What have been key challenges before the company and how have you tackled it?
Kiran: ekincare is now in the 6th year of its successful journey and the major challenge has been to ensure that the product resonates the best with the beat of the problem statement. The company started as a B2C product but it didn’t take too long for the founders to understand that the best way to approach HealthTech in a country like India wasn’t necessarily the individual beneficiaries. An enterprise model was figured-out real quick post the revelation. India, where Health becomes a priority only when there is a pressing discomfort; has a steep way to go before preventive healthcare takes the first foot. The company’s decision to enter the enterprise model and figure out solutions of health benefits for organizations is paying off and creating an impact.
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What are the areas company deals with currently?
Kiran: ekincare gives access to a single platform that provides services to employees and their dependents, even when working from home. Through deep learning, they are helping individuals and organizations identify health risks before their onset, resulting in preventive, predictive, and personalized healthcare initiatives to reduce overall healthcare costs. Covering physical health, mental wellness (EAP services), Fitness and gyms and nutrition, ekincare is a single app-based platform that an organization would need to provide health to their employees. With a partner network of 3000+ diagnostic centres and hospitals, 6000+ fitness centres and vision and dental service providers, ekincare is present pan India across 1000+ cities!
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What kind of ‘need of the hour’ services you are providing to organizations for dealing with COVID-19?
Kiran: In order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, ekincare has built a symptom checker for self-assessment, temperature tracking into the platform which enables employees and their dependents to check themselves for the coronavirus symptoms, and seek doctor consultation if at risk.
We have also made operational the COVID Helpline, a single number for all employees to get any help around coronavirus, any health query, or test. We are also providing COVID testing (RT-PCR and antibody). Get COVID rapid testing and antibody testing (IgG and IgG/IgM) from ICMR approved diagnostic centers and hospitals, pan India, either through the home collection, at centers, or on-premises.
With ‘Back to Work’, we ensure complete sanitization of office space, with medical personnel onsite to help with temperature monitoring and emergencies. With an in-built symptom checker and regular awareness sessions, ensure the well-being of your employees.
Under COVID Insurance, get exclusive insurance cover for COVID-19 through our insurance partners without impacting the group claims and future premiums.
The ‘Home Isolation Services’ enable the right care for employees in case of home isolation. A 14-day program covering doctor follow-ups and diet and counselor services for mild or asymptomatic COVID cases, where home isolation is advised. ekincare also provides home isolation kit which includes – Protective Gear For Home Isolation, Monitoring Equipment To Track Body Vitals, Supplements & Medicines To Boost Immunity, and Online Medical Services(Chat/Call With Doctor).
We have 24×7 doctors and counselors to help avoid any stress, anxiety, or panic among employees with instant expert guidance from our experts. Qualified experts are online 24×7 to help your employees.

Ekincare Founding Team: Noel Coutinho, Chief Business Officer; Kiran Kalakuntla, CEO and Srikant Samudrala, CTO.

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How has been the journey of the company so far? Any milestones achieved?
Kiran: The core of ekincare’s early success was extensive testing of all their products with a sample group and taking feedback from the group and working on the products for continuous improvements. Today, ekincare is admired and known for being the fastest-growing health benefits platform in India. Some of the top fortune 500 companies have trusted ekincare and use this platform. ekincare is today the Health Benefits partner for global giants like Unilever, Barclays, Optum Global, FedEx, and Disney.
ekincare has been growing 50% QoQ in terms of revenues. The company has a strong set of industry backers who are invested in life sciences, paired with a strong advisory team vested across technology, data, and insurance. Within 2 years, ekincare has demonstrated an exceptional growth in the number of clients and number of employees.
Using a tech and product approach to a traditional services industry has helped ekincare get a significant edge over the competitors, which is a very big gap to cover. With our deep analytics combined with the data collected over the last 4 years, we have been able to build a strong AI model at the backend to enable corporates to track and manage corporate wellness.
Working with various key stakeholders in the ecosystem including insurance and insurance brokers has helped ekincare become the choice of health benefits partner for multiple organizations. With many industry firsts, including family doctor online, spending accounts, flexible policy engine, our tech along with a strong network of service providers will help us keep the momentum going.
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What is the long term target of the company?
Kiran: To be India’s leading employee health benefits platform with a view to making access and outcomes easy for enterprises to offer to their employees. The focus will be on being an innovative and comprehensive platform that will make quality and efficiency hygiene factors for health care delivery.
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What is your outlook for the future in terms of new plans, revenue and growth?
Kiran: There is potential to grow 5x times each year for the next few years given the way services are currently delivered and the lack of technology where ekincare is bridging the gap. Innovative products are being offered making it easy on the pockets of enterprises and beneficiaries and fulfilling the unmet needs in healthcare.
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The pandemic has accelerated the role of technology in healthcare delivery. What is your opinion on the current and opportunities in the health-tech domain?
Kiran: ekincare was conceptualized as a health-tech company. While the pandemic has been an unfortunate event, it has been an opportunity for ekincare to show proof of the pudding with the way in which services were delivered from day 1 of the crisis. Being a B2B only company with all the bells and whistles for data security, scalability and comprehensive delivery of services the opportunities came in as a rush through the doors, but were managed without a flutter with seamless onboarding and activation. The future is bright for HealthTech as it has opened up people to experiences and shown success.
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 What is your imagination of a post-COVID-19 world? Is the healthcare sector slated for a paradigm shift in terms of infrastructure, delivery, and overall growth?
Kiran: Yes, and 5+ months have shown people how to access health care more conveniently and effectively for most of their common needs. Hopefully, this will also be an opportunity to finally agree that the healthcare system need not be a fractured one, but technology can pull it all together. ekincare was a lone player when it came to deep integration across various health facilities and services and if some more will be convinced to put in the effort it will be a major boost for the healthcare industry in India and the citizens.