Vishal Bali (left) and Ferzaan Engineer, co-founders and co-chairmen of Medwell Ventures, believe home health care is a societal need
Image: Selvaprakash Lakshmanan for Forbes India
Medwell Ventures has raised $21 million in its series B, or second major round, of funding from Mahindra Partners and existing investors Eight Roads, giving the Bengaluru-based home-health startup the wherewithal to expand its services and deepen its technological capabilities.
The funding, which takes the total raised by Medwell to about $35 million over the last three years, will help Medwell build out its model of providing a “care continuum”, CEO Lalit Pai told reporters. Care continuum refers to the more long-term aspects of monitoring a person’s health parameters and intervening with specific care as needed.
The combination of advances in medical technologies, especially in making many devices much more portable and digital, and the rise of smartphones and cloud computing is helping new-age home-health providers attempt increasingly customised care. Medwell has built a strong logistical backend that involves centralised hubs in the various “micro markets” it operates in, providing both long-term monitoring of its customers’ health parameters and care as needed. A city or even a part of a city could be a micro-market, from Medwell’s perspective.
Medwell has also built strong IT systems that underpin its operations. Doctors and other specialists, such as physiotherapists, can tap into these systems to keep track of their work, the people they’ve been treating and so on. For the consumers, they get to maintain electronic health records, use a smartphone app to get important notifications — such as the timing of the next dose of a drug, for instance — seek emergency help, and otherwise manage the services they are buying.
“The intention is to provide clinical services. We have proven that the quality of care provided at home can be much better,” said Lalit Pai, chief executive of the company. “The way that we can use technology to serve our patients is quite dramatic from what it was five-seven years ago.” Medwell today provides 25,000 unique instances of services a month to its customers, who are mostly subscribers, while the company also has ad-hoc buyers of specific services — say, picking up of a blood sample from home.
“Our partners in this round will further augment our focus on technology,” Engineer said. The Boston arm of Eight Roads, the proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International Limited, is very well connected to the relevant ecosystem, and Mahindra Group is also very technology focussed, he said.
Medwell started its home-health business by acquiring it from Nightingales Home Health Services, a Bengaluru-based service in April 2014. The venture retains the brand and has now expanded to four branches each in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai and one more in Pune.
“Now we are adequately funded and we’re looking at NCR, Chennai and eastern India and everywhere we will go down the branch model,” Vishal Bali, co-founder and chairman of the company, said. From about 30 people in 2014, Medwell now has 1,000 full-time employees, who are in-house staff and the company has built a strong training programme as well.
Two of the venture’s centres are profitable and two regions, with multiple centres in each, will soon become profitable, Ferzaan Engineer, co-founder and joint chairman of Medwell said.
In the coming quarters and years, the growth of medical insurance will also help Medwell add customers, Bali said, making it easier for people to pay for their services.