Making Health More Personal

Ayu Health currently works with 20 hospital chains spread across Bengaluru and Chandigarh

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After selling their used furniture e-commerce platform to online classifieds firm Quikr three years ago, the founders of Zefo have now brought in a unique healthtech offering to help digitize private hospitals and manage their operations.

Ayu Health

Ayu Health, founded by Himesh Joshi, Arijit Gupta, and Karan Gupta in 2019, currently works with 20 hospital chains spread across Bengaluru and Chandigarh. The company started its journey with five-six hospitals in Chandigarh to aggressively test out its offering and expanded to another fifteen hospitals around the second wave of COVID-19 in April-May 2021.

The company now wants to expand its services to six cities by the end of 2022. These cities include Delhi-NCR, Chennai, Hyderabad and more, Ayu Health’s co-founder Joshi told Entrepreneur India in an interview.

The Bengaluru-based healthtech startup Ayu Health has bagged $6.5 million to turn this dream into reality. The Series A round, announced in September 2021, was led by Singapore-based Vertex Ventures and Stellaris Venture Partners. Serial entrepreneur Ashish Gupta, Mamaearth’s co-founder Varun Alagh, EyeQ founder Rajat Goel also participated in the round.

The latest fundraise will help Ayu Health expand its hospital network to incorporate 5,000 beds compared to the existing 1,200, Joshi told Entrepreneur India.

A part of the funding will also be used to upscale the company’s existing product suite such as insurance processing, procurement of products and clinical quality management at network hospitals.

Joshi claimed that Ayu Health’s partner hospitals use its technology platform to improve clinical quality, procure medicines and consumables, and process insurance claims. This results in better clinical outcomes, a smooth in-hospital experience and transparent pricing for patients.

The company has also digitized the entire consultation, medicine prescription and payments procedure to offer better experience to customers and avoid hospital visits. It helps its partner hospitals create a more asset-light network, where Ayu Health manages end-to-end administrative operations and the faculty looks into the clinical treatments, the company claimed.

He believes that India's healthcare space is still fragmented and the patients aren't always unsure about where to go and the quality of clinical services.

“We felt very strongly whether there was a need to create a branded hospital that could solve for three pain points, transparency and pricing consistently good clinical outcomes and high-quality experience,” he shared.

“Hospital chains have traditionally been built differently - hospitals are either fully owned or at least fully managed by the parent chain. This makes scalability difficult and a lot of attempts have failed to scale beyond 5-10 branches. We are taking a completely different approach here - we trust our partner doctors who have a strong pedigree and have set up excellent hospitals, and are focused on enabling them to do better and better. Technology, we feel, is a strong enabler for improving patient experience, clinical quality and a hospital's operational costs while allowing all of this to be managed centrally.  Our belief has been justified so far as we have managed to scale to more than 20 hospitals and are on track to hit over 100 within the next year,” Joshi mentioned.

Acceptance of technology and its ability to drive change was a bit of a bottleneck at the beginning. However, COVID has accelerated the shift and there's a lot more acceptance across the board, according to Joshi.

The platform is said to be well-capitalized currently and focused on enhancing its technology offering for its partners. They are also expanding around their core markets of Chandigarh and Bengaluru. They already have branches in Ludhiana and Patiala, and are in talks with a few other areas as well.

According to the Human Development Report 2020, India has only five hospital beds for 10,000 people. The lack of healthcare facilities and the onset of COVID-19 was one of the factors why India decided to introduce Telemedicine guidelines and the National Digital Health Mission in 2020.

More digitized solutions in healthcare can help companies like India tackle the lack of healthcare services and also strengthen the existing healthcare system. According to the Weforum report, the four digital themes in healthcare would include smart care, care anywhere, empowered care, and intelligent healthcare enterprise.

“We want to become the largest hospital chain in the country in the next 2 years. We will be expanding into 4-5 new cities next year, and more than 10 in 2023. We are also extending our product portfolio to cover services for insurance, procurement, and other services for our partners,” the founder further explained.