--By Gaurav Aryal
Health at Home is not just a responsible business venture. It is a journey of a cardiac surgeon who dropped out of university. Dr Bishal Dhakal, Founder of Health at Home was pursuing his Doctor of Medicine (MD) at King Edward Medical University, Lahore, Pakistan when he identified his dream to do something new in the medical field.
Dhakal, who considers himself a free-spirited person, had ideas kicking in his mind to do something creative. He packed his bags in the middle of his five years course and left for Nepal. “I thanked my professor for their contributions and returned home,” Dhakal recalls, “I had ideas and a desire to do something new.”
As a trained doctor, he had identified the challenges and gaps in the medical field. “Had I completed my studies, I would have earned just a certificate. But as an entrepreneur, I am recognised for my ideas and effort,” Dhakal brags on his success as an entrepreneur.
Origin of idea
Having completed his MBBS from Saint Petersburg Medical Academy in Russia, he returned to Nepal and practiced medicine for four years as a trainee doctor. As a doctor, he witnessed every day the end of medical services right at the door of the hospital where he worked. A person who has undergone a major surgery needs prolonged care and it would be a painful journey to visit hospitals frequently. There, Dhakal saw prospects for an enterprise – a home-based care service that would eliminate the need for patients to physically travel to hospitals. This was a path-breaking concept when medicine was considered a service rather than a business.
Dhakal kept pondering over the idea of homecare services to patients and came to a conclusion that it is a valid proposition as it would be easier for patients and would make a great business idea too. When he actually started the service, he claims he was the first in South Asia to provide a service of its kind.
Taking baby steps
Dhakal, a first generation entrepreneur in his family, had little experience of running a business. “In the beginning, we made each and everyone from a family our member, but later I realised it was taking us nowhere,” he shares of his initial days. Meanwhile, Dhakal and his team encountered a demand for nursing care at home for an elderly woman who lived by herself and to whom family members and relatives would come only to receive blessings during Dashain. She was not only a client but also an inspiration for him to re-model his business to provide on-demand services.
Starting the business in 2009, within three years, Health at Home has acquired 20 to 25 patients in care. Dhakal is content with the pace of his company is progressing. “The service was started as a theme but now it has picked up as an enterprise,” he says.
Taste of success
Dhakal’s business model has already received recognition with the coveted Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award 2012. He was awarded for institutionalising professional health care services to be delivered to people who are recuperating or who require frequent health attention at home.
This award means a lot to Dhakal. “The Asha Award is like a certificate for me. This recognition is more valuable to me than being a cardiac surgeon who I would have become if I had not dropped my studies,” he says. “It has given me my own niche. I created my own school, designed my own curriculum and graduated within the same time as when I was supposed to complete my MD – in 2012. It (the award) is like a university degree for me,” he shares.
The company is serving around two dozen clients at present and Dhakal expects to have up to 100 clients in care soon. The company does not have any flashy promotional campaigns and he says that the only promotion the company has is by word of mouth. Dhakal believes that healthcare does not work with publicity but with credibility. So far, the company has worked with 500 families and its clients include high profile personalities such as former Prime Ministers, industrialists and even refugees.
Health at Home has been employing around 60 people including eight administrative staff and 50 healthcare professionals. The company has three doctors, 40 nurses, five physiotherapists and five lab technicians on pool at anytime. Also, the company is managed as any other corporate house with the hierarchy of a management team including a Chief Executive Officer, a Chief Operating Officer, a Care Coordinator, a Finance Officer, line managers and the like.
Health at Home also plans to standardise its services and service procedures. The company is training 18 women (who are destitute and single mothers with some education) on elderly care assistance. The training is provided free of cost. Upon completion of the course, students can perform check-up tasks like measuring blood pressure. Dhakal further says that they will be the first elderly care professionals trained in Nepal for providing services to senior Nepali citizens.
The company has recently launched membership-based services where only members are provided with consultations and healthcare services including doctor visits. Anyone can subscribe for a life-time membership paying only Rs 1000. The charge for membership of five people in a family is Rs 2500. So far, the company has 100 households members who have subscribed to the service and targets to increase it to anywhere between 1000 to 2000 households by the end of 2013.
Dr Bishal Dhakal, Founder, Health at Home treating a victim of Siraha fire under the Doctor for Disaster initiative
Doctor for disaster
The company also has a separate initiative to assist victims of natural calamities. The Doctor for Disaster initiative was launched in May 2012 to assist victims of the Siraha fire where 3000 houses and sheds were burnt down. Dhakal was not satisfied with the delayed response of the state emergency rescue team, so he started a campaign to receive financial support from global Nepali companies like F1Soft International and the Global Bank, and contributed from his own pocket too. Medicines were provided by Dr Bharat Rawat of Norvic International Hospital and the Rotary Club at Dillibazar. The campaign resulted in a team of four doctors going to the location giving voluntary service.
Dhakal’s initiative possesses the rare ability to grow as well as contribute to society. He says that if the Red Cross needs help at times of emergency, his initiative is ready to offer doctors and necessary services. These activities are self satisfying to Dhakal as he considers himself a socially active animal.
Services provided by Health at Home
- Nursing care
- Pharmacy service
- Medical equipment buy/sell/ rent
- Nursing aid or paramedical placement services
- Doctor managed nursing services
- Physiotherapy services
- Blood draw and laboratory services
- Travel support and medical escort services
- Membership based services
- On Call services
- Physician on call
- Lab on call
- Travel support for sick clients
- Nurse on call
- Physiotherapy on call
- Psychologist, psychotherapist and counsellor on call
- Dietician on call
Disease specific programmes
- Round-the-clock nursing care
- Nursing aids/medical aids
- Physiotherapy evaluation and support programme
- Wound care and dressings
- Post surgery recovery support programme
- Antenatal checkups and pregnancy support programme
- Diabetics monitoring and care programme
- Cancer care programme
- Palliative care programme
- Lever failure support programme
- COPD and Asthma care
- Kidney failure and dialysis support programme
- Oxygen monitoring and supply management
- Cardiac care
- Paediatric care programme
- Nutritional support programme
- Geriatric care
- Pharmacy delivery
Health at Home can be reached at 977-1-4116024 and www.healthathome.com.np