The healthcare market anticipated a somewhat shorter disruption in critical health services. Still, as the Covid-19 pandemic is ensuing longer than expected, it is negatively influencing the treatment of various diseases, and limiting its side effects on patients is increasingly becoming a major challenge.
It has brought the focus back on the continuum care model. There has always been a growing demand for rehabilitation services. Every patient, especially those who have had a severe episode or surgery for a chronic illness, needs rehabilitation after being released from the hospital.
It is imperative in these Covid times since the number of Covid patients is increasing in many parts of the country. We spoke to Rajinish Menon, CEO and Founder Sukino Healthcare, to understand the nuances of the field and how healthcare was evolving and the catalytic effect of Covid-19 on the sector.
Sukino Healthcare has pioneered the concept of Continuum Care in India to revolutionize post-hospital discharge care for patients not in a position to go back home directly as well as senior citizens. Often, these patients need medical care and rehabilitation that is difficult to get with home care. Some of them need continuous monitoring and non-invasive clinical intervention supervised by a doctor.
Incepted in 2015, Sukino Healthcare is the First in India to provide managed home care, rehabilitative care, palliative care, end of life care, knee replacement rehabilitation, neurorehabilitation, physiotherapy rehabilitation, hip replacement rehabilitation and stroke rehabilitation across the life-cycle of patients, once they are out of the hospital.
The services are focused on patients with chronic ailments, including complications from Kidney Disease, Neurological Impairments, Cardiac Disease, Cancer, Tumor and Post-Operative Disabilities. Sukino Healthcare aims to be the best long-term health care provider, including home care and transitional care across India.
The current strength of employees stands at 300 highly competent and experienced team of multidisciplinary approach well-qualified Doctors, Nurses, Physiotherapists and Counsellors currently provide services to over 1000 patients in six centers in South at any given time and have treated more than 5000 patients till date. They have a tie-up with key hospitals in the region, with Narayana Hrudalaya being one of them.
What is the growth perspective in the field of healthcare in terms of home care?
Whether it’s long-term chronic disease treatment or post-acute disease recovery, the treatment is delivered in the continuum of treatment or at the patient’s home.
Furthermore, around 3 lakh cardiac surgeries are performed in India each year, prompting rehabilitative care for these people. While they are in the hospital for a short amount of time, ongoing care must be provided to the patient after release for a longer time.
For some patients, spending more than INR 20,000/- a day in the hospital becomes exceedingly challenging. Several independent rehabilitation programs are springing up throughout the country to make rehabilitative treatment affordable, economical, and patient-friendly.
Seeing the absence of a robust healthcare system in the country, we understood that while assistance was accessible, individuals did not have consistent treatment. Hence, we established a healthcare firm approximately two decades ago, sensing an inherent need to bridge the gap between post-hospital discharge and optimal patient recovery, particularly those in need of transitory care.
However, the challenges observed then continue to exist today and are set to only rise, given the existing toll on the health care sector. Our strategy is to fill this gap by providing the highest quality continuum care services possible by combining clinical expertise, skilled labor, and cutting-edge technology to relieve patients’ physical and emotional pain.
Currently, you have branches in Bengaluru and Kochi. Many hospital chains provide similar services in these cities. How do you place yourself in this regard?
Sukino Healthcare distinguishes itself by providing a full spectrum of services under one roof, including preventative care, critical intervention, prompt and suitable rehabilitative treatment, and sensitive palliative care for terminally ill people. We have worked hard to establish a standard by taking a comprehensive and holistic approach towards easing the transition.
While doing so, there is a strong emphasis on the importance of care, comfort, and discussion throughout treatment, and it’s made certain that all patients are treated as family members. The physicians, nurses, and caretakers go above and beyond the stated technical protocol to put a smile on the patients’ faces and keep them engaged during their stay and treatment.
Sukino’s first significant growth began in 2018, and by the end of the year, the firm had five centers—four in Bengaluru and one in Kochi—with a total of 180 beds. The aim is to increase this by another 200 beds this fiscal year and another 250 beds the next year. The plan for the next 15 months will witness about 500 beds in Bengaluru alone. We also intend to service Chennai, Vijayawada, Hyderabad, and other places in Kerala.
How are people benefiting from your services?
Continuum of care is a relatively new idea in India even though it is widely understood and implemented in other developed countries. This strategic treatment seeks to improve the effectiveness of clinical therapies performed in the hospital by extending the patient’s care after release. Effective continuum care is a blend of recuperative and rehabilitative care that conforms to the same treatment protocols as the primary doctor recommends.
Currently, after major surgeries, the patients are released with a list of dos and don’ts and are expected to be extra cautious while refraining from engaging in any physical activity since it may jeopardize their recovery process. In contrast, it would be appropriate for the patient to undertake adequate rehabilitation following the surgery to withstand good physical activity and receive advice on better ways to enhance the recovery process. This is where one benefits from effective rehabilitation given as part of the continuum care program.
The Continuum care system is gaining traction as a must-have component of treatment regimens. Hospitals and consultants see the benefits in the way the rehabilitation is being transformed. Acceptance and adoption of such much-needed health care models will only accelerate in the coming future. There are already a few players in the market, even as many practitioners and the general public are unaware of all the benefits. Hence the need is also to establish the marketplace, and once it is fully grown, India will accelerate in reaping the many benefits of this treatment process.
What are your expansion plans and how do you plan to expand in regions where such services are untapped?
Given the growing use of our services and care modules, we want to expand our business in terms of offerings and geography. We want to continue putting in solid efforts in establishing a prominent presence in Bangalore, Kochi, and the surrounding cities of southern India.
At the moment, our particular focus is on those regions with a sizable senior population, where we can avail services of individuals with advanced knowledge of healthcare and those areas where an understanding of the idea of continuum care is already prevalent.
We have already mapped out a strategy to bring our services to certain locations in South India, beginning with Kerala and expanding to Chennai, Hyderabad, and Vijayawada, all of which are on our radar. A prestigious investment group also backs us, and we are confident that they will always provide the necessary assistance. We have always believed in a solid debt-equity combination, and our fundraising strategy will follow suit too.
What challenges did you face in terms of home care during the pandemic?
We have faced some challenges, no doubt, during the first phase of the pandemic. One of our major challenges during the pandemic was to convince our staff and patients regarding safety and care, even when the news around us was that this was an extremely contagious disease. While we met their needs, we also went above and beyond to earn their trust by providing services concierge. We established confidence in this way, and our transition into healthcare went easily.
The significant learning that Covid has taught is that investment in healthcare should not cease and that there should be a cooperative and collaborative mindset. There is a need to look closely at the expenditure frameworks and determine that operational savings are implemented.
Finally, there has never been a better moment to use technology, and as an example, regular beds may now be turned into HDU beds using technology. Sukino is a hospital-agnostic organization, and doctors or patients refer the majority of patients. Furthermore, they are teaching people further through our numerous offline and online activities.
In challenging times like these, patient families want such services even more now. The requirement is to be a reliable, trustworthy, and economically sustainable companion. With the present overburden on the existing medical system and individuals becoming more conscious of their conditions, the demand for continuum care has already been established. The medical community has begun to adopt this notion of treatment to improve the patients’ overall health.
Would you please elaborate on your ‘Respiratory Distress’ initiative?
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the topic of respiratory rehabilitation to the forefront of patient management. With the ambiguity surrounding Covid-19, the after-effects remain ambiguous too. The extent and severity of the long-term respiratory complications of covid-19 infection remain to be seen.
It is reported that post the initial illness, a majority of people had persistent lung abnormalities. While most are managed on general wards, a sizeable proportion requires intensive care support even after discharge. Enter, Sukino Healthcare.
Once the patient is admitted to their program and facility, our doctors conduct a detailed assessment to formulate the therapy. Next, the patient is assessed by our certified and experienced Respiratory therapists to map out the therapy sessions and fine-tune the treatment plan. Depending upon the condition and the assessment, a goal-oriented treatment plan is created. Weekly inspections are carried out using the Borg Dyspnea scale, 6 min walk test, 12 min walk test, TUG scale, Cough sputum score.
Our Respiratory distress initiative takes care of respiratory disorders like COPD, Asthma, Bronchitis, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, and Sleep Apnea. Extra care is required since such situations are life-threatening lung injuries that cause difficulty breathing while obstructing the flow of oxygen in the body.
Our respiratory distress rehab program has benefited 30 percent of the 5000 patients we have treated so far.
With our unique and multidimensional approach, patients show remarkable progress within a short period. The pandemic has not affected us in any way because our vision, mission, and all focus are geared at taking care of patients who need extended care. Times like these are when patient families need us more than ever when the need is to be a trusted partner, a dependable partner, and an economically viable partner.
Would you mind talking with data about the demand for your services and their performance?
What distinguishes Continuum care is the full spectrum of treatments provided under one roof, including preventative care, critical intervention, timely and appropriate rehabilitative care, and sensitive palliative care for terminally ill individuals.
The healthcare market anticipated a somewhat shorter disruption in critical health services, but this pandemic ensues longer than expected. This has negatively influenced the treatment of various diseases, and limiting its side effects on patients is increasingly becoming a major challenge.
Non – communicable disease prevention and treatment have equally been impacted. The demand for continuum care has sporadically increased even as the severity of the pandemic remains the same and continues to create obstacles for the health experts.
We established a comprehensive post-covid-19 respiratory distress rehabilitative treatment for patients who have recovered but still suffer from Covid-19 side effects. Our care module combines comprehensive recuperative, rehabilitative, and palliative therapies to relieve patients’ physical and mental discomfort.
What are some of your current focus areas?
This year, the world’s attention is entirely focused on the healthcare business. The Government of India has made a significant stride toward healthcare innovation by combining numerous fragmented health plans under the world’s largest medical umbrella, Ayushman Bharat.
In addition to the National Health Mission, pragmatic initiatives such as an INR 64,180 crore investment over the next six years would considerably improve basic, secondary, and tertiary healthcare infrastructure in the country. Given the country’s difficult economic circumstances, the number of free COVID -19 cases treated is genuinely extraordinary.
Our focus is the development of healthcare infrastructure and we are excited to be a part of this sector. With the growing number of emergency departments and hospital blocks, we are optimistic that this will aid in the expansion of the local health care sector and position India as a vital player in the international marketplace.