A surge in healthtech innovations, especially in the post-Covid period, promises to revolutionise the Indian healthcare sector like never before. However, these medical advancements largely benefit only those living in the bigger cities, even as millions in rural areas struggle to access even basic healthcare. 

To address this critical gap, healthtech start-up CureBay seeks to harness technology to upgrade primary healthcare in remote areas. It uses a hybrid model combining physical infrastructure with digital capability to deliver quality and affordable healthcare in underserved regions. 

At its core, the model involves using a technology platform to aggregate a spectrum of healthcare services. This includes doctors, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, and medtech devices, among others. Complementing this virtual network is a physical network of e-clinics — medical centres set up in remote areas lacking healthcare facilities. 

The e-clinics act as hubs for assisted healthcare at affordable cost. 

Affordability no bar

Challenging the view that healthcare services in rural areas cannot be sustained financially owing to insufficient revenues, Priyadarshi Mohapatra, founder and CEO of CureBay, stresses that rural patients are more than willing to pay for quality services. 

CureBay combines physical infrastructure with digital capability to deliver healthcare in underserved regions

CureBay combines physical infrastructure with digital capability to deliver healthcare in underserved regions

Elaborating on the company’s affordable pricing strategy, he says, “Now, how are we able to make it affordable? For instance, we charge ₹100 for the first consultation, cutting the travel cost [needed to seek treatment in a city hospital], and we sell branded ethical medicines at discounted rates.” 

Additionally an annual membership programme, priced ₹399, gives patients access to free consultations with doctors, diagnostic tests, and discounts on medicines, besides ambulance and other services. 

The platform currently has on board 50 hospitals and about 100 doctors.

Within six months, the programme has garnered more than 15,000 members, underscoring the demand for accessible and affordable healthcare in remote areas. 

Healthy spread

As to the choice of location for the e-clinics, Mohapatra says the first criteria is the catchment area, namely any site that has at least 50-100 underserved villages within a 10-km radius. 

The start-up recently raised ₹62 crore in a Series A1 funding round, taking its overall funding to over ₹120 crore across three rounds. 

Currently operational in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the start-up has so far established 92 e-clinics and plans to add more. “We continue to expand within the same markets and plan to have 150 clinics in each of the two states, after which we will enter a new market, Jharkhand,” Mohapatra says.