A casual conversation with a pharmacist-led me to research startling facts about one of the most deadly diseases known to mankind. The figures are disturbing – India is home to 72 million diabetic patients. What is even scarier is that the rate at which the epidemic is growing, India could potentially be the world leader in diabetes by 2030.
Leading innovation in fighting the ‘sugar-coated’ monster is Dr. Pramod Tripathi, founder of freedomfromdiabetes.org. Initiated in 2013, the organization uses technology extensively on the belief that diabetes can be reversed. From 226 participants in 2014, the company now has over 24,782 participants as of 2016.
With an aim to make patients ‘insulinfree’, the organization uses a mix of diet and exercise to inspire diabetics to change their lifestyle. “We offer 7 different programs ranging from 2 hour duration to 1year follow-up. Conventional treatment focuses on giving medicines or insulin. We want to rid our patients of such dependency.”
A Healthy Chat
Technology has been a boon not for the organization, but also for its patients. Dr Tripathi created an app out of his passion, to get patients to report their daily status. Patients can report their sugar levels through a customized App. This everyday support helps them to reduce their anxiety of daily adjusting their dose of insulin or tablets.
Due to constant monitoring, almost 50 per cent patients are free of insulin and tablets. Rather than meeting the patient once a month or once in three months, the doctor can monitor his/her schedule on a daily basis. The App also offers a chat platform, wherein diabetic patients can interact with one another and discuss their recovery. “This platform helps diabetics to talk about their habits related to diet, exercise, stress and positivity. Patients get to interact with each other on a daily basis to see what is working for them, what is not working.”
Need for Innovation in Healthcare
The idea to create an App also emerged from the lack of innovation in healthcare and the dependency on conventional treatment.
“We have a team of doctors, nutritionists and mentors who work together to educate, inspire and adjust the program as per the patient’s need.” For the organization, catering to the huge demand and constant upgradation has been a key challenge. Talking of start-ups in the health sector, Dr Tripathi said they need to think beyond the past methods of treating patients.
“Patients are getting tired of regular methods of treatment and are seeking deeper solutions. The future is for those who can think out of the box and solve the deeper problems rather than treating the surface symptoms. Startups need to be clear, passionate and have integrity.”
The company is looking at franchising in the next three to four months. It has two centres at the moment and one main clinic in Pune. Apart from that, Dr Tripathi has also setup satellite clinics where 10 doctors are assisting diabetics. The company plans to open up in two more states and another four by the end of 2017.
“The ultimate goal for us to rid over 9 crore people of diabetes. I want to see the current prediction that there will be 10 crore diabetics in this country by 2030 fall flat. The number in 2030 should be less than 1 crore.”
A sweet dose of positivity, indeed!
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (June 2016 Issue).