Portea’s healthcare workers will use AMI’s B.O.L.T. health monitoring device—roughly the size of an iPhone—to collect health statistics from blood pressure to temperature from its patients. The data will then be used to personalize treatment plans and proactively intervene on a need basis.
The agreement between Portea and AMI is the first such partnership in the Indian home healthcare market, which is valued at $2-4 billion a year and growing at about 20% annually, according to the Bengaluru-based company backed by Ventureast, Accel Partners and Qualcomm Ventures.
Portea’s doctors will use the device to remotely monitor their patients’ health statistics on a real-time basis through an app. The device, which can currently collect data on blood pressure, pulse, blood oxygen levels and temperature, will be able to monitor patients’ cholesterol, glucose and anaemia levels in coming months.
“This data can help doctors and our staff to be alert and intervene when necessary, to avoid health complications. It would also be useful to offer personalized care. So far, such devices were not used by patients at home and were only available at hospitals or healthcare centres," said Meena Ganesh, co-founder and chief executive of Portea Medical. “While this is our first such agreement, going forward we would invest a lot more in ramping up technology usage."
The company has also started piloting the use of wearable technology and other medical devices to monitor diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.
“Once we have established convincing results, we will introduce it to patients," Ganesh said.
Portea, founded in 2012, claims to be the largest home healthcare provider with a patient base of around 35,000 in 24 cities. “Every month we tap around 50,000 visits and we see it growing four-five times in a year," she said.
The home healthcare segment has been rapidly growing in India in the past three years. But what distinguishes Portea Medical from competitors in India and similar providers in China is the use of technology in field force management and better health outcomes, said a Forbes report. Portea uses smartphones and Bluetooth-enabled machines, the data from which is stored on a cloud system to be accessible to clinicians.
Meena Ganesh and her husband Krishnan Ganesh acquired the company in 2013 after selling their previous venture Tutorvista Global Pvt. Ltd to Pearson Education. In 2013, Portea raised its initial round of $9 million funding from Accel Partners, Ventureast and Qualcomm Ventures.
“We will raise the series-B round in 2015 and most of the funds will be deployed towards integrating technology in our services and also to enter new verticals of disease care," Ganesh said.
Right now, Portea offers home care in areas such as general primary health, post-hospitalization, chronic disease management, motherhood and palliative care. The next area of disease care it may enter is neurology.
AMI’s Indian arm will manufacture the device in the country and sell it at around ₹ 12,750 per device. Portea will get the device at a cheaper price tag of ₹ 10,000 due to the partnership. AMI is also in talks with Apollo Hospitals, Nightingale Home healthcare among others.
Globally, patient monitoring devices are pegged to be growing at 5.5%. The growth is backed by a growing population of the elderly, lifestyle-related diseases and penetration of home care and remote monitoring.
“We have been working with hospital chains in India and felt there was dearth of machines for affordable home healthcare. This is a device that could be used in the rural areas as well, where electricity is an issue. It is also mobile integrated, which offers ease of access to doctors who are away from patients," said Sridharan Mani, director and chief executive, AMI.
According to a 2013 report by the Centre for Technology Innovation at Brookings Institution, around three-quarters of medical expenditures is towards a small number of chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma. Mobile technology can come to the rescue by lowering costs and increasing efficiencies as patients could be connected virtually.