How has the demand for home healthcare changed during the pandemic? Has there been an increase?
The demand for home healthcare has definitely seen a considerable rise during the pandemic. Owing to people being confined to their homes, unable to frequently venture out, and being worried about visiting clinics/hospitals, taking medical services at home such as Nursing, Physiotherapy, Speech therapy, etc. was the preferable and logical option. Demand for Doctor tele-consultations have increased exponentially, and we have successfully catered to the rising curve.
This pandemic also helped people realize that most services/procedures they may need, that they previously thought the hospital/clinic was the only place for, can actually be carried out in the comfort of their own homes, very safely with the equivalent level of clinical quality and protocol adherence.
What are some of the changes that had to be made to home healthcare services due to the pandemic?
Due to the pandemic, we not only had to quickly adapt to the changing scenario and modify existing services, but also launch new ones. Many of our existing services were brought online so that we could continue providing services to our existing customers as well as to new customers. All our staff adopted strict safety protocols at each step of the service.
Physiotherapy was conducted online, via video sessions, using a specialised app which helped people with an exercise plan and assistance. Our physicians conducted tele-consultations with the patients. Speech therapy sessions were taken online. Our documentation, already being on EMR (Electronic Medical Records), aided in quick and efficient service delivery. For any long term deployment, attendants and nurses were placed after a negative Covid report.
Has Nightingales started any new services to cater to the needs of people during the pandemic?
Starting new services was definitely needed to cater to the changing scenario. Nightingales initiated Video Tele-consultations by Physicians, Physiotherapists and Speech therapists. Other services that were availed by a large number of people were Home Quarantine Program for Covid, Membership programs (which gave access to unlimited Doctor Tele-consultations and a host of other benefits & discounts), Adult Vaccinations at home including Flu vaccinations, Oncocare at home, Intensive Care at Home with 24 x 7 remote monitoring and ICU experienced clinicians, Post-Covid rehab to help people get fit quickly after Covid and holistic Post-Covid Management program to help patients deal with effects of Long Covid.
There was a significant demand from corporates for the safety of their employees and office/factory sites. For this, we developed a Workplace Health Safety Program, which addresses this concern. Multiple small, medium and large corporates availed these services from us.
Role of technology in home healthcare and how did it help to overcome the challenges during the pandemic?
As in any other industry, technology is playing a significant role in the delivery of healthcare services too, especially at home and offices.
Remote service delivery via tele-consultations was the need of the hour. Our Doctors conducted tele-consultations via an integrated platform for audio/video consultations and generation of digitized prescriptions. Similarly, Physiotherapy tele-sessions were conducted seamlessly via robust tech solutions. With intensive care at home set up and 24 x 7 remote monitoring by senior intensivists, healthtech has come a long way in home healthcare. All nursing notes have gone digital along with complete data capture and escalations tracking. For various programs, we had online trackers, real-time dashboards and digitised documentation.
What are some of the trends in home healthcare services that you noticed in the last one year?
People are very conscious about their health now, especially regarding preventive wellness. Whether it’s about taking the supplements, or taking a session for back pain, or doing doctor tele-consultations for which they would have taken home remedies earlier and missed the diagnosis – people are realising that early help is the key to tackling any health issue.
Secondly, with technology taking over so many aspects of our life, people are now comfortable with tech tools for remote consultations. There are issues which definitely need physical examination, but there are many issues which can be well tackled via tele-consultation too. With people becoming comfortable in using various technologies, remote health is gaining acceptance widely.
Another positive trend that we observed was that the importance of clinical quality for home services has been the topmost priority for people lately. While earlier, few of our customers were price conscious but now since they understand the expertise that our clinicians come with, the customers have stopped negotiating on price aspects. Many of our customers specifically enquired regarding our quality and training aspects. This is something that we have always been very particular about at Nightingales, and I’m very glad that patients and their families now realize how important it is to deliver quality service, consistently!
What are your expansion plans?
We are India’s only Home Healthcare brand with a market leading position in two major countries, India and South Africa. Both geographies present significant opportunities for the growth and expansion of our business.
In India, we are focusing on greater clinical focus and specialisation across our medical, nursing and rehab/physiotherapy verticals. Our collaboration with Cloudphysician Healthcare to launch Intensive Care at Home services is an example. Similarly, we specialize in Orthopaedic rehab, rehab for elderly, Stroke rehab and physiotherapy for neurological disorders. We have been delivering excellent outcomes in Speech & language therapy for communication disorders like stammering/stuttering, development disorders, aphasia due to stroke and voice disorders.
In South Africa, Medwell SA serves multiple senior living communities and plans to sign up several more this year. This service model creates long term annuity for our business and a natural growth path as new senior living communities get populated over time.