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This Edtech Startup Came Up With the A-ha! Moment In Healthcare Space According to the startup, it is working to close the gap between industry demand and the skills of the workforce in the healthcare segment

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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India has a 1.3 billion-strong population. But do we have enough skilled healthcare professionals to address present and future needs?

The coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on the importance of quality healthcare to promote and maintain good health, prevent and manage diseases, reduce disability and premature death and achieve health equity.

But India still has miles to go when it comes to healthcare.

Over the last 10 years, public spending on healthcare has been a meager 1 per cent of GDP, way lower than the average for OECD countries (8.8 per cent in 2018). The country has a poor ratio of healthcare professionals: one doctor for every 1,404 people and one nurse for every 675 people. This is far lower than WHO's prescribed norm of one doctor and three nurses per 1,000 people.

Edtech and e-health startups are on an acquisition spree as stronger companies attempt to fill gaps in portfolios or try to gain scale amid a surge in demand for remote learning and treatment options.

Year to date, there have been 13 buyouts and funding rounds worth $954 million in edtech startups, compared to nine buyouts and investments of $520 million in 2019, according to data sourced from researcher Tracxn Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Healthtech saw four acquisitions and funding rounds totaling $300 million, in the year to date period, according to Tracxn data.

Mergers and acquisitions are expected to continue in edtech and e-health startups as investors expect the covid-19 crisis will create a permanent change in how people access healthcare and education.

With the world almost at a standstill during this "new normal,' medical startups have reinvigorated the discussion around how modern-day health solutions should look.

Apart from exposing gaps and vulnerabilities, the pandemic has also presented opportunities for health tech startups to jump to the forefront and showcase what they can do when the right mix of desire, innovation, and transformation comes knocking at the door.

The gaps in healthcare education led to the birth of Gurugram-based startup Virohan, Founded in 2018 by Kunaal Dudeja, Nalin Saluja, and Archit Jayaswal, the health education startup is aimed at providing trained allied healthcare practitioners (AHPs) such as OT technicians, medical lab technicians, and X-ray technicians, among others.

According to the startup, it is working to close the gap between industry demand and the skills of the workforce in the healthcare segment.

Virohan uses technology and talent to fix this socio-economic problem so that industry demand and skilled workforce are in perfect equilibrium.

Virohan chief executive officer and co-founder Kunaal Dudeja told Entrepreneur India, "the main idea behind Virohan was to bridge the gap between what the Indian Healthcare industry demands in terms of allied health care professionals and what we currently have. For India, we need at least 50 million health care professionals to be working today and there are less than 10 million workings in the sector. Approximately, 90 per cent of these 10 million are also currently untrained and uncertified. So, the motive was to essentially bridge the market gap and become an organization that provides quality training to make sure that the workforce is ready when they enter the industry. Another reason behind starting Virohan was that the traditional education system in India is completely flawed. There are 2 large areas of failure, there's a training failure, and there the scale failure. So, we started Virohan with an idea to convert and fix the training failure, fix the scale failure, make the education system demand-driven, completely scalable, standardized, and make sure that the outcomes are standardized. So, people coming out of the training system are actually employable because of what is being trained on our demand-driven training modules."

The company uses a range of technologies to build a scalable architecture for multi-tenancy, low latency, maintainability, and testability of the architecture in a complex and evolving environment. In order to achieve this, they have a core monolithic architecture with autoloading balancers and a relational database service running inside a virtual private cloud on Amazon Web Services. They have then built microservices on top of this monolithic core to be able to service client requests in a fast and ever-changing dynamic environment.

The company has raised debt from Yunus Social Business and National Skill Development Corporation in 2020 for roughly $450,000. And then, a total of $3 million across Seed and Series A, recently. The Series A round of funding was from elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization, Rebright Partners, and the Singh Family Trusts advised by Artha Impact.

In the past 2 years, the scenario of education has completely taken a roundabout turn. Learning that was earlier aligned with a classroom setup has now shifted to a totally online learning module.

At Virohan, they have developed a training pedagogy that is delivered by their tech platform to deliver a standardized and engaging learning experience to youth across the country.

When the pandemic started, the company claims to have taken the spirit of their pedagogy completely online, with video and text chat-based doubt support, live classes, and remote mentorship sessions that focus on student motivation. This led to building a leading omnichannel training platform that can switch between training online and in-classroom seamlessly with their NPS ratings jumping to over 60 per cent, drop outs to below 7 per cent and 90 per cent placement rates, and 40 per cent referral rates.

One of the biggest challenges in India is that education has been supply-driven, completely disconnected from the industry demand. As a result, the country has been ranked one of the lowest in workforce readiness when you look at the global standards.

Dudeja believes that, what needs to be done is that education needs to be demand-driven. It needs to be given from the perspective of the employer and how these people are going to be working in the industry. For that, three things needs to be solved: there needs to be technical training, practical training and training for soft skills and grooming so that these people are ready when they enter the workforce to be able to fully contribute to the workforce in a productive manner. They have solved that challenge using their pedagogy and product. Because of that, they have experienced over 250 per cent growth during the pandemic.

The future plan is to expand our operations to over 160 centres across 35 cities in India and to train at least 1 million students by the end of 2025, he shared.

Dudeja further remarks, "We are looking at a $78 billion market in India for health care over the next 10 years. The future plan is to be one of the largest, quality-conscious, and demand-driven companies in India. We are currently working as partners with the UNICEF YUWAAH! program, GE program, and the Indian Medical Association. The more such partnerships we bring, the more acceptance of the program in the market, the more aspirational it becomes for the youth and the more demand-driven because these companies operate on the demand side, and therefore the training that we deliver is completely from a demand perspective of how these people are going to be working in the industry."

Prabhjeet Bhatla

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