From an early age, Nazim Mahmud would accompany his mother to healthcare facilities for regular check-ups.
"As my father lives abroad, I have had to take care of my mother's health over the years and I was never satisfied with the way our local healthcare institutions operate. I always found the process of availing healthcare services very stressful," said Nazim during an interview with The Business Standard.
Nazim's desire to ensure quality treatment for his mother led to the inception of Health in Action (HIA)—a one-stop platform providing healthcare solutions.
Since its launch, HIA has been developing methods to smoothen a patient's healthcare journey from scratch. The start-up was first launched in 2015 under the name "PlexusD" and was rebranded as HIA this year.
Initially, the health-tech start-up offered six basic services - smart appointment, e-prescription, digital billing, online report, medicine reminder, cloud back-up, and follow-up reminder.
With time, HIA kept adapting to the fast-moving world of Industry 4.0; by using innovation and technology. The start-up ensures better quality treatment while reducing an individual's healthcare expense by 30-40 percent, according to Nazim, founder and CEO of HIA.
How? Nazim explained, "Many people usually end up spending more than what is required to avail regular medical services, and it largely happens due to lack of relevant information. Many patients often undergo unnecessary diagnostic tests without consulting the right physician. With our services, we are bridging the gap by providing patients with relevant information."
HIA is helping people identify the right physician, institution, and treatment in their neighborhood hospitals. It is also digitising hospitals to provide quality treatment in an affordable and data-driven way. The platform operates like an ecosystem where users can book appointments with doctors at medical institutions being facilitated by the health-tech start-up and powered by its software as well.
"Once you pay a visit to our partner hospitals and find that there is no mismanagement, and the doctor is allocating enough time to provide data-driven consultation, you will realise that the quality of treatment has improved," said Nazim.
So far, HIA has partnered with three hospitals and diagnostic centres offering 360-degree healthcare solutions using the start-up's mobile application and website.
How Does HIA Screen The Facilities?
The HIA team screens healthcare institutions based on several factors—quantity of beds, categories of available consultants, efficiency in patient management, laboratory quality, operation theater-quality, and so on.
"We also have an unofficial strategy—never partner with a hospital where we are unlikely to take our family members for treatment," added Nazim.
So how does HIA ensure the best doctors for its patients? When asked, Nazim said, "There is no such thing as 'best' doctor. We can say 'popular' doctor but how many popular doctors do we have in the country? Since we are trying to ensure quality treatment, we want our doctors to communicate effectively with their patients and I believe we do not specifically need popular doctors for that."
In Bangladesh, a doctor usually consults a patient for 49-50 seconds, which is not a good practice. But do we know why they do it?
"There are around 100,000 registered doctors in Bangladesh and out of them, around 25,000 specialise in dentistry. In a county of over 160 million population, 75,000 doctors are not enough," said Nazim.
According to Nazim, the direly low doctor-patient ratio in Bangladesh leads physicians to see many patients every day. This is why most doctors end up spending less time on each patient.
Professionally, doctors work for long hours and have one of the highest stress jobs. With the help of technology, they can use their time more efficiently and hence, consult patients for longer.
How Is HIA's Technology Helping Doctors?
HIA has developed an application specifically for doctors that aids them in analysing patients' medical data beforehand and be prepared to provide consultation.
When you go to a doctor, you can carry all your medical reports and records on its app. This health-tech start-up allows users to upload their medical documents on its portal which only the doctors can access with the patients' permission.
"Our technology can help empower all stakeholders of the healthcare industry, be it the doctors, their assistants, receptionists, nurses, hospital, and patients," said Nazim.
He believes if stakeholders can be familiarised with the proper use of this technology, they will eventually adapt to it.
Is HIA Fitting Into The Healthcare Industry?
Around 100 users are signing up every day on the platform and Nazim believes this number will increase tenfold within the next six months.
HIA is currently working with three hospitals and diagnostic centers on a pilot basis and aims to onboard 120 hospitals on its platform by 2023.
When asked about the challenges they are facing to mobilise the healthcare industry, Nazim said, "We have digitised almost every aspect of our lives – we can pay utility bills and make other payment online, avail a lot of online services from anywhere, but digitalisation is yet to have its impact on the healthcare industry."
Working in the healthcare industry for half a decade has made Nazim and his team realise that Bangladesh's healthcare sector has an extremely low adaptation rate of technology compared to any other industry.
According to Nazim, there are many reasons behind this since Bangladesh's healthcare industry is not well-structured.
"People are not aware of the implementation of technology; most stakeholders still prefer working manually. In the era of digital revolution, if we keep working on pen and paper, we cannot increase our efficiency level," expressed Nazim.
To increase technology adaptation, HIA has been raising awareness among stakeholders, educating them about the prospects of digitalisation in the sector.
So, How Is HIA Being Benefitted?
Every time a patient goes to a doctor's chamber or hospital via its website of application, they have to fill up a form at the counter and pay Tk 50. HIA gets Tk 30 from that fee. This is the only source of income for the start-up.
To know more about HIA, download the app: Hia.care/app