Fellow Technology founder and CEO, Dharma Teja Nukarapu recently embarked on an incredible all-India expedition, aiming to make healthcare accessible and personalized for everyone across the Indian subcontinent. Starting in April 2022, the journey covered 29 States, 2 Union Territories, 31 Cities, and 12,441 kilometers in 20 Days.
Fellow Technology was founded in 2016, in Raleigh, North Carolina, with the goal of bridging the gap between patients and their providers and improving the healthcare industry through simple yet powerful technology.
“With Indian medical service consumers becoming more conscious towards their healthcare upkeep, India is full of opportunities and has become one of the leading destinations for high-end diagnostic services,'' says Mr. Dharma.
Fellow Technology’s digital healthcare and wearable technology promise to seamlessly integrate into every person’s life, thereby empowering the people to be more self-administrable with their healthcare.
During this journey, Fellow Technology enrolled 1,000+ members across India onto their health coverage plans, offering 3 lakhs worth of hospital coverage, 2 diagnostics, 6 consultations per year, and up to 40% off on prescriptions.
“The hospital industry in India is forecast to increase to Rs. 8.6 trillion (US$ 132.84 billion) by FY22 from Rs. 4 trillion (US$ 61.79 billion) in FY17 at a CAGR of 16-17% For a diverse nation with unique problems related to every region, it was important for Fellow to better understand the key health and insurance needs of every state and devise a personalized healthcare package.”, says Mr. Dharma.
Unlike all other market players, Fellow Technology is the only health care provider that enables connected health. Fellow Technology’s smart ecosystem allows people to track their health, prescriptions, consumption, vitals, activity, and nutrition. Fellow Technology even provides a health coach for better nutrition.
With unlimited access to healthcare networks and healthcare professionals, Fellow Technology is offering 24/7 unlimited consultations, case-less prescriptions with express pick-up/drop-off, up to 100% coverage of OPD expenses, and up to 50% off on prescriptions.
“I strongly believe that when we start to look at impossibilities as speed bumps rather than walls, we give ourselves time to slow down and think, rather than giving up. For me this journey was about serving a greater purpose, that is, to reduce the huge gap in our health system with respect to access and affordability”, says Mr. Dharma
Sharing an interesting and inspiring incident from the journey, Mr. Dharma shared, “One of the biggest challenges on our journey was when we visited the land of Blue Hills and Red River – Assam, right at the beginning of the storm. It was a humbling experience as we came face to face with the problems of the people in such extenuating circumstances. I take pride that we were able to help the people and enroll them into our coverage and we’re already processing their claims as we speak.”
Traveling and interacting with so many individuals will help Fellow to personalize healthcare for such a massive population and identify key metrics to better understand the shortcomings related to every state.
Fellow Technology identified the metrics related to the availability of healthcare per state, which includes the number of PHCs (primary health care centers), number of multi-specialty hospitals, and number of super-specialty hospitals, private centers, and government centers. Additionally, the team researched and gathered data related to the health insurance coverage available in every state and identified the complexities the people of India are facing with their current providers.
“A key thing I’d like to mention here is how the needs of the patients are impacted with the various health cards causing significant payment delays, making claims processing one of the most gruesome experiences for a patient.” mentions Mr. Dharma.
The team at Fellow Technology uses state-level data to categorize the population by age group, occupation, financials, and prominent health conditions to ensure healthcare is accessible to everyone.
“I experienced a range of emotions during this incredible journey and seeing the lack of awareness and accessibility towards healthcare in India, It has made my conviction even stronger to pursue this ambition with greater zeal. One such emotional experience was in Delhi, where a group of senior citizens shared how they feel ignored in a time of need. It is extremely sad that the age group that deserves the maximum attention is feeling ignored and has such great difficulty with their health claims and accessibility.” recalls Mr. Dharma.
In another conversation with salaried individuals earning between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 1 lakh, Mr. Dharma discovered how hidden costs in their health policy impact their claims processing, forcing them to pay 50% of the treatment cost out of pocket.
Fellow Technology is planning to launch 10 to 15 vehicles in every state from next quarter to touch every corner to identify access and affordability problems and build digital solutions in collaboration with major insurance providers and other healthcare organizations to provide instant custom solutions and digitally track the outcomes.
Speaking about Fellow Technology’s future plans, Mr. Dharma mentioned “Fellow Technology believes that healthcare access and affordability is a universal problem. Most of the non-compliance and adherence issues are caused by access and affordability. We will start a similar campaign in the USA to cover all 50 states in collaboration with major providers to bring access and affordability to patients.