Sehat Kahani - Health for all
Leverage innovative care delivery through telemedicine whilst providing employment opportunities for female doctors through mobile solutions
Dr. Iffat Zafar is the Co-Founder and COO for Sehat Kahani, a telemedicine startup in Pakistan. She studied medicine from Ziauddin Medical University and currently She is a Commonwealth scholar for her ongoing Masters in Global E-Health from University of Edinburgh. She is a Good Fund Fellow 2017-18, MIT for the Entrepreneurship Development Program (2016). She was recently featured by Microsoft4Africa for the women led success stories in South Asia. Dr. Iffat Zafar has been a part of global accelerators and has won notable awards which include GSMA Accelerator, SPRING Accelerator within Sehat Kahani as well as, Engro I am Change Awards 2016, KITE-OSLO Local Competition, MIT Enterprise Forum Pakistan (2015), Seedstars Regional Event (2015), Winner of “The best in Healthcare” at GISTTech I Event held United Nations Head-Quarters (2015) for her previous work in telemedicine. She has also been a part of a well-known accelerator in Pakistan; Invest2Innovate previously.
Sehat Kahani- Health for all
Leverage innovative care delivery through telemedicine whilst providing employment opportunities for female doctors through mobile solutions
Sehat Kahani on the supply end caters to women needs by providing a platform of employment to female health care providers who lack the facility to out-stand social taboos and join the healthcare workforce. On the supply end, the organization also sustains the need for females to have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Furthermore Pakistan has around 180,000 beds for a population of over 200 million, and looking at worldwide trends, the country is headed towards a peak in COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks. To address these market failures, Sehat Kahani provides access to a wider population at low cost that is helpful in delivering health care interventions, especially in areas with lesser health resources using ICT based solutions. Our project utilizes an inclusive and integrated approach to promote employment opportunities for other female doctors whilst advancing services for quality healthcare in Pakistan.
Sehat Kahani addresses the following market failures and challenges:
(1)Pakistan, a population of 207 million still struggles to provide basic healthcare to more than 50% of its total population. Around 78 million people live below the poverty line and lack access to good health and well-being. This results in poor health indicators such as high infant mortality (62/1000 live births) and maternal mortality (178/100,000 live births) rates and by the fact that every 3rd child has to suffer from stunting as a consequence.
(2) 90 million inhabitants live near quality health infrastructure but lack the time and convenience in visiting tertiary centers and waiting in long queues. In addition due to recent pandemic, OPDs are closed down due to nationwide lockdown and tertiary facilities are overwhelmed by increasing numbers of COVID cases.
(3) In Pakistan the density of doctors is 0.8 per 1000 patients and the density of nurses is 3.8 per 10,000 patients. According to Pakistan Medical and Dental College, 60% of the students graduating from medical college are female, yet 77% of them disappear from the workforce within the upcoming years due to social cultural barriers resulting in gender inequality
Sehat Kahani is a health tech impact business that aims to democratise health care for all using a network of qualified and previously untapped network of female doctors using telemedicine. We have created a network of e-Hubs (walk-in clinics) that connects users to qualified female doctors online, while qualified nurses or health workers act as intermediaries. We have also launched a telemedicine based mobileapp that allows a patient to record their health history, chat andconduct an audio/video consultation with an available network of qualified doctors and obtain a prescription as well as the facility of at home pharmacy delivery and lab tests (through partner organisations) to increase convenience for people from the more urban markets. In addition, we have deployed a preventive health portfolio to improve health education and awareness in untapped communities. We have a 24/7 helpline for our beneficiaries to avail health information or a consult from our network of doctors for COVID suspects. The helpline is currently also functioning as a self-screening and referral tool for users who are suspected for COVID-19. Sehat Kahani has been able to make revenue over the net, create key collaborations and partnerships across all service lines with a female majority team.
Sehat Kahani has created a unique solution enabling beneficiaries to access quality authentic healthcare. Using an integrated innovation model, we have been successful in establishing 27 e-health clinics across Pakistan that have served 165,000+ beneficiaries through active consultations while more than a million lives have been impacted through preventive health campaigns. Through our mobile application we have catered to 90,000 +active users. We have created a network for 1,500 female doctors and 110 nurses while providing them access to online health Education programmes and training for their capacity building as well as employment opportunities. Our project empowers the patients and beneficiaries to seek telemedicine services for primary care services. They experience an increased convenience in accessing medical services by choosing the service model they prefer based on their own unique characteristics as beneficiaries. Furthermore, out of the workforce female doctors and healthcare workers also benefit from the improved work-life balance due to flexible practice and hours within the vicinity of their homes, in addition to substantial earnings. By facilitating information collection and making it transparent, the proposed model has the potential to protect and empower end users/ beneficiaries as well as contribute to the socio-economic development of health professionals.
Elevating opportunities for all people, especially those who are traditionally left behind
Sehat Kahani is empowering female doctors to rejoin the workforce by providing them with opportunities to use IT enabled solutions to deliver quality healthcare to patients located far away. Additionally we are also raising awareness for women to make informed health choices through our outreach health education campaigns while providing them safe spaces to avail health services virtually. Given the current pandemic our solution has been instrumental in providing access to healthcare virtually as health needs have been unfulfilled by an overwhelmed healthcare system while providing a safe platform for practitioners to deliver services without the risk of COVID exposure.
Sehat Kahani was co-founded by two female doctors, Dr. Sara Khurram and Dr Iffat Zafar who had each faced the socio-cultural barriers of not being able to have a supportive environment to fulfil their career ambitions in their personal capacity. At a previous workplace; Dr. Iffat met Dr. Sara who was working on this concept with another ex-partner and fell in love with the concept. We felt that it was about time that a solution be evolved to address the increasing health and work inequalities so that female doctors are able to prioritize both their family and careers and serve humanity without the criticism of their male peers and family members. In addition, the poor health conditions of people living in low income communities and lack of feasible innovative health solution for middle to upper income beneficiaries encouraged us to explore options of telemedicine commonly used in developed countries. Thus with the support of several mentors, Sehat Kahani was established to bring about such services in Pakistan so that it can facilitate both the patients and the human resource issues related to healthcare.
In Pakistan, 48.1 percent of the female population lacks participation in decisions regarding their healthcare. Pakistan ranks third-worst country in the world if numbers of maternal deaths are taken into account. Women are at times not even allowed by other women to undergo medical treatment or visit a doctor resulting in being undiagnosed of medical complications and later on suffer for the remainder of their lives. There are many factors responsible for such problems. However, more important is the lack of resources even for those who wish to seek treatment. We realized that we live in a patriarchal society where women from all backgrounds are endured with several obstacles that prevent them from being able to work while looking after their family. However, the backlash faced by female doctors in prioritizing their families over their career is disheartening due to the additional guilt of not being able to help improve the health status of the community. The need for a supportive environment and to elevate health conditions for women was something we felt was essential in order to bring female doctors back into the health workforce and into the economy to reduce gender inequality and promote women empowerment.
Belonging to a medical background I have faced the socio-cultural barriers of not being able to have a supportive environment to fulfil my career ambitions of serving my Hippocratic oath of serving my patients while realizing the dearth of health resources. I along with my team are well equipped to design, develop and deploy telemedicine and mobile health solutions that are cost effective and easy-to-use, thereby creating convenient, accessible and remote health care options for our beneficiaries. I have represented Sehat Kahani at numerous platforms such as World Bank Human Capital Summit 2020 (Islamabad), Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019, TEDxZiauddin (2018), and Gender Smart Impacting Summit London 2018, to name a few to gain user traction, promote our services and explore avenues for funding for my organisation’s growth and expansion. I have built our organization resources and expanded our services by being grant recipients for GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund, USAID Challenge Fund, Amplify change and Spring Accelerator. I am a highly dedicated professional working round the clock to bring about the desired outcomes and results expected from my organisation. I have a democratic leadership style in the organization that allows for constant feedback and flow of ideas among team members that further improves the likelihood of project success. For 5+ years I have been successfully leading a multidisciplinary team with diverse backgrounds that assesses our beneficiaries’ needs to see what their barriers to care may be and helps to address them by implementing and continually improving our services.
Last year two of our lead female members had to take a sabbatical from work. We utilised this opportunity to empower our next line of team members to step up and take additional responsibilities. We conducted open group meetings and took joint decisions that benefited the team as well as their individual growth in the company. After extensive training and constant support, these team members not only felt motivated but also thrived in their new positions. We were able to build our team from scratch and were able to handle local and internationally funded projects that included frontier innovations, GSMA and Rolex enterprises. We also rebuilt our research team to analyse real time data of our users. Due to our market analysis and validation we also launched our own m-health app after a successful pilot while continuing to expand our e-clinics across Pakistan. Presently due to COVID our operations were halted; again we reconvened as a team to develop standard procedures to work and perform efficiently from home while having virtual meetings to streamline our work process. Eventually we were able to launch a virtual clinic for low income communities while increasing the user traction of our mobile application
My leadership is greatly driven by my collective strong value belief system and my sincere commitment to the betterment of the community. My leadership has required integrity, effort and commitment. Each step from the first launch of e-clinic to the expansion of our operations while sustaining organisation growth was challenging. However, I along with my co-founder realized that it was necessary to create an all-inclusive platform where women felt empowered to practice medicine as well as women in the communities felt safe to access affordable quality health service. We faced societal pressures of being a mother and a housewife while trying to launch a solution that was both innovative and much needed. Being resilient through time and again enabled us to co-create Sehat Kahani that literally translates into a story of health. With the help of community stakeholders, partners and our team we were able to launch a platform that gave women opportunities to voice out their health needs. Today I along with my co-founder lead a team of more than 120+ members, overseeing a network of 1500 doctors utilising our solutions and impacting more than 1.5 million lives collectively by making quality healthcare accessible, affordable and achievable for them.
I have been working with Sehat Kahani for 3 years
For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
Sehat Kahani uses secure technology that utilizes web standards and features HIPAA-compliant privacy controls and sharing preferences for each user while collecting and integrating data. We are data aggregators striving to streamline true health data in relation to primary health outcomes that have been underreported in Pakistan. Sehat Kahani competes against gender based socio-cultural barriers to deliver authentic and reliable healthcare services. We have the first movers advantage of being in the field for more than 4 years, piloting and iterating revenue streams, treating actual paying customers. Our competitors usually focus on beneficiaries belonging to specific markets whereas our solution caters to deliver primary health services to all income markets with a special focus on women belonging in hard to reach communities. In addition, unlike our competitors we are delivering a holistic solution that comprises virtual appointments, SMS reminders, e-pharmacy, e-labs and referrals. Powered by convenience, ease, and affordability of Sehat Kahani telehealth mechanism, providers and patients alike could no longer be burdened by the longstanding paradigm that patients bear the responsibility of physically traveling to the care they require. We are contributing to the country’s economy by social and financial empowerment of females by creating jobs of unemployed female health professionals and frontline female workers and building their capacity to extensively meet the overwhelming demands of the current pandemic. We pride ourselves for rebuilding an extensive network of female doctors, specialists and nurses by empowering them to reach their patients remotely, while saving valuable clinical time.
Our theory of change is as follows:
Current number of beneficiaries
After one year, number of beneficiaries
After five years, number of beneficiaries
Sehat Kahani; like all the other Global Players in the telemedicine market, intends to grow its current business by expanding their Telemedicine Platform through the e-clinics and mobile application and not only become a market leader in Digital Health in Pakistan but also become a global player. With the current COVID scenario; the inertia towards telemedicine has already been broken and the acceptability of seeking a doctor’s opinion over a video call through a smartphone while being able to maintain social distancing and reducing the risk of exposure by not going to a hospital has grown tremendously. Sehat Kahani has already build a strong network of corporates and industry magnets (Including Banks, Telecoms and Pharmaceuticals as the key giant players) as early adopters to champion Sehat Kahani’s vision and impact during the current COVID Pandemic where they are availing their services for their employees. In the next five years, we aim to be able to lock over 50 million active users availing e-health services through the E-Health clinics and our mobile application, shifting the trend from physical health towards virtual OPD consultations and other digital diagnostic services and become the next ‘Uber for Healthcare’ in Pakistan. Sehat Kahani is also in the process of creating strong Public Private Partnerships ensuring Primary Healthcare access is taken up by the government and creates potential impact.
The following challenges and consequences are anticipated for adapting, integrating, and scaling our innovation.
We plan to mitigate the above mentioned barriers by using the following strategies:
Our strategic partnerships and collaborators include: (1) Engro Fertilizers- utilization of Sehat kahani telemedicine model to deliver health services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (2) Aga Khan University, Saaya Health, Taskeen and IRD for COVID-19 Pakistan Mental Health Response. (3) With Yaran-e-watan (a Governmental initiative to tackle COVID) we are providing a telemedicine platform through our mobile application to medical professionals in diaspora to deliver healthcare services in Pakistan. (4) Collaborated with Digital Pakistan to expand Sehat Kahani users for mobile application through awareness and marketing activities. (5) Partnership with 10 pearls for the development of mobile health application for Sehat Kahani smartphone users. (6) Partnership with digital care and medical city online for electronic medical systems. (7) Microsoft 4Afrika for our Sehat Kahani server application support. (8) Our telecommunication operators such as Jazz and Zong who are involved in subsidised SMS bundles, SMS notifications, 24/7 helpline and education/awareness messaging. (9) Our development partners include UNICEF, UNDP, GSMA, World Bank, DFID, Australian Aid, Amplify, USAID, SPRING and Engro Foundation (10) To improve access to mental health services across low-income communities in Pakistan, we have collaborated with British Asian Trust, Taskeen Health Initiative, Karwan-e-Hayat, Legal Aid Office and IRD Pakistan. (11) To provide access to virtual consultations through our mobile application to corporate employees we have partnered with several corporations including 10 Pearls, Avery Dennison, Novo Nordisk, ICI, Roche, Samaa, Philip Morris Pakistan, GEO TV, Dawn, Jazz, Jazz Cash, Careem, Abbott, CCL, Adamjee Life, Smart Choice, Daraaz and Coke
Sehat Kahani has a sustainable revenue sharing model that offers services focused on all market segments via: (a) E-Health Hubs and Health Education: At Sehat Kahani E- Health Hubs a front line worker is trained to act as an intermediary for our beneficiaries who are charged $0.5 to $3 to connect with qualified home based female physicians or a specialists virtually. Sehat Kahani also conducts preventive health care drives to bring out a long term behavioural change in communities capped at 20% net revenue profit. (b) Mobile health Application: Through this application, users can obtain quick consultations with general and specialist female doctors along with keeping track of their health history and obtaining digital prescriptions. Our target users include: (i) B2B solutions enable corporate businesses to use this app as a tool to meet the primary health needs of their employees. (ii) B2B2C solution is for corporations with a larger consumer base, such as banks, insurance companies and telecom firms who are able to provide app services to their clients. For our corporate models we charge a per user annual subscription fee of $5-$20 for GP only, $10-$30 for GP+specialist and $15-$50 for GP+specialist+mental health expert (iii) B2C solution is for retail users targeting more than 74 Million of smartphone users with subscription charges $10/user/year or per consultation charges ranging from $2-$15 per user.
For our long term financial sustainability plan, Sehat Kahani in the next five years envisions establishing 101 E-Health Clinics Nationwide and aims to train a Network of 5000 doctors, health providers and mobilizers developing independent micro entrepreneurs or consultants on the Sehat Kahani Panel. This would result in a cumulative impact of approx. 15 million lives both directly as well as indirectly through the E-Health Clinic and Health Education services which Sehat Kahani provides creating a Gross Revenue of around 8.8 Million USD with an anticipated Net Revenue of around 2.7 Million USD. Additionally Sehat Kahani through its E-Health application, will be able to lock over 30 million active users availing e-health services through the E-Health application, shifting the trend from physical towards virtual OPD consultations and other digital diagnostic services in Pakistan.
Since Inception Sehat Kahani has raised $804,446 in funding, breakup of which is as follows:
Sehat Kahani has earned $23,1370 in revenue, sources for Year 2019-2020 is as follows:
Sehat Kahani aims to raise 1 million dollars in the Pre- Series A funding round. This round will last for around 18 months. 33% of the funding will be used for HR Expansion ($330,000)by focusing on hiring a few C- level employees and technical team that will add value in scaling the business in the next 18 months. This will include the addition of a full time CFO, CTO, HR lead, Marketing Lead, Business Development Lead, developers, solution architects and Q/A managers. Along with hiring funds will also be used for content development for training and capacity building. 25% of the funding will be dedicated for technology enhancement ($250,000) by integrating AI and machine learning along with other technical upgrades in our existing technology. 30% of funding ($30,000) will be utilized for marketing of the mobile application by conducting an extensive digital and non-digital marketing campaign. 12% of funding ($120,000) will be allocated to expand our telemedicine platform through clinical networks.
We estimate an expense of $428,681 for 2020. Breakup of our expenses are as follows:
We have a four year track record of creating e-health and m-health solutions that has been utilized by over a million beneficiaries. With the current pandemic implications we aspire to expand our solution that is accessible to a wider, eventually global, audience. With the Elevate prize, we want to empower and create employment opportunities for the female health workforce to utilize remote solutions in order to improve health outcomes in Pakistan. We feel that the Prize can help us emerge as better leaders for our company as well as support our collective vision of strengthening primary healthcare of Pakistan by integrating e-health and m-health solutions. To reach this global vision of health for all, we require partners, mentors and advisors. We want to reflect on our experiences and share our knowledge to cross learn and grow. In addition, receiving mentorship from experts will enable us to expand our solution sustainably while improving utilization uptake of our beneficiaries. The resources from the prize will also enable us to integrate necessary technological upgradations such as AI integration, chatbots and automated algorithms that will enable us to predict health patterns of our target beneficiaries which is extremely pivotal for us to understand and analyze especially healthcare needs of our users. The funds will be used to expand our operations while continuing to build the skills and capacity of health practitioners to utilize and integrate our services and products in their practices.
Our partnership goals are focused on:
(1) Scale Up – We aspire to build consortiums at National and international level to build synergies for sustainable development. We are looking for partners who can match their resources with ours to scale our solution, gain new active users and maximize utilization of our services to a greater number of beneficiaries that may be beyond our reach at the moment.
(2) Strategic Development: We are actively seeking support to improvise the business development strategies.
(3) Technological Support: We are looking for synergies that help us integrate machine learning and AI in our existing technology while improving our interface for better user experience and engagement.
(4) Human Resource management – We are looking for a network of doctors and specialists across the globe that will be interested to utilize our solution to continue their medical practice.
Sehat Kahani aims to develop partnerships with MIT to connect with mentors, experts and advisors to build and expand our solution by integrating AI into our existing solution thereby gaining consumer insights, integrating predictive algorithms and supporting our research processes.
We also aspire to expand our partnerships with mobile operators across Pakistan such as Ufone, Telenor and Mobilink to broaden its reach by gaining low cost customer acquisition and market insights, access to mass communication channels including API access for SMS and IVR, access to mass payment channels for easy payment collection processes, access to retail customer touchpoints, access to technical and commercial support and gain visibility and credibility
In addition we aspire to build partnerships with tech giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook to access cloud computing, Telemonitoring through wearables, customer data acquisition and artificial intelligence resources,
We are also actively seeking large organisations and corporations such as Philip, GE healthcare, Nestle and Samsung to adapt our solution either for their employees directly or utilise it for their clients as a white label solution. This will enable us to expand our reach and customer base.