On a wintry December morning, Santosh Patnaik walks into CureBay e-clinic in Jahangirabad, 10 km away from Salepur town in Cuttack district, Odisha. The 74-year-old retired private sector employee has a skin ailment but cannot travel to the city and exert himself. But he can’t ignore his skin lesion either. At the e-clinic, a trained nurse points an HD ultra-portable device (NABL-approved) fitted with a diagnosis camera at the infected area.
Within seconds, a hi-resolution digital image appears on the LCD screen. In less than 30 seconds, a top dermatologist from Puri appears on the screen. He asks Patnaik a few pertinent questions about his infection and sends a digital prescription to the nurse. By noon, Patnaik receives his medication. “Patnaik is one of our happy case studies at CureBay,” says Priyadarshi Mohapatra, former Microsoft techie, and the Founder-CEO of CureBay.
Launched in November 2021, CureBay is an Odisha-based hybrid healthcare model that marries digital medtech with physical walk-ins, or phygital, in startup parlance. Mohapatra was moved by the plight of villagers spending three days to a week for basic medical treatments in cities. Without proper support systems, their sickness becomes worse; the cost of the stay is prohibitive and causes an unaffordable loss of livelihood. “While we cannot do anything for a patient who needs emergency treatment after a cardiac arrest, CureBay e-clinics can handle 60 percent of non-emergency treatments,” he says.
While the current healthcare apps connect patients via a WhatsApp call, CureBay promises to have at least two people at the clinic to help patients meet the necessary doctors as per their ailments. “Our research has proven that rural Indians use smartphones for three things—entertainment videos, cricket updates and WhatsApp calls. The percentage of people who download healthcare apps and also use them is abysmal,” he elaborates on the motive behind setting up the platform.
CureBay uses a hub and spoke model along with AI and IoT to get healthcare to reach rural areas. A hub and spoke network is a centralised, integrated logistics system designed to keep costs down. These distribution centres receive medicines from different places which are consolidated and sent directly to their destinations.
The ongoing pilot project is limited to Odisha, but by 2021, Mohapatra hopes to expand to at least 15 states. Right now, there are five CureBay centres. “The Rs 100 consultation fee per patient makes us the most affordable place for medical treatment,” suggests the medi-entrepreneur.
In the pipeline
The bigger plan is to open one CureBay e-clinic as a satellite centre every 10 km in Odisha which will have two medical staff, with consultations by accredited doctors. Their devices currently allow nearly 3,000-plus medical tests at the clinics. For the treatment part, CureBay has a concierge desk that handholds patients (fee varies depending on the treatment) and pre-book them at hospitals and have a physical person receiving them at the entrance and walking them to the bed/surgery theatre.
✥ Kundhei Chhaka in Kakatpur taluk, Puri district
✥ Bamanala in Nimapada taluk, Puri district
✥ Ganeshwarpur in Gop taluk, Puri district
✥ Rajghat in Basta taluk in Balasore district
✥ Jahangirabad in Salepur taluk, Cuttack district