Savitha Kuttan had returned to India in 2009 after spending about 11 years as a healthcare consultant in the US and Europe. She was here to set up a strategy for a multinational pharmaceutical company. That was when she realised how the medical education scenario in India was strikingly different from that in the West. Continuous medical education (CME) is a mandatory requirement enforced by medical councils to ensure that the doctors are on par with the latest advancements in the field. But to earn the CME credits and to upgrade themselves with the latest knowledge and skillsets, doctors in India had only two ways. They could either attend the long conferences conducted by the Medical Council of India, or rely on information from pharma companies. The conferences took away a large chunk of time from their busy schedules and in return provided miniscule portions of relevant information, whereas information that pharma companies provided was perceived to be biased. The inefficient and non-targeted means of education left a gaping hole for an independent medical education enterprise.
In June 2016 along with Priyank Jain, who was then running a start-up named EnCashea, Kuttan incorporated Omnicuris and in November, launched its digital platform. This portal produces specialised video-based content on the latest advancements in the medical field, thus providing doctors with continuous medical education. “In India, grave medical errors and negligence occur frequently, and part of the problem is the serious shortcomings in knowledge and skillsets. To address that problem, we provide smaller pieces of content as well as complete packages of courses, which could help the doctors keep themselves updated and plug the gaps related to key skills in a specific area,” she explains.
Omnicuris collaborates with various stakeholders such as medical institutes and experts to create video-based content. For the provision of CME credits, it works with medical councils and government bodies. To offer the content free of cost to doctors, Omnicuris seeks the help of pharma companies and device manufacturers who then become the company’s independent educational sponsors and for whom it acts as a digital marketing platform. “We identify partners specialising in a particular category and then we work with them for the funding and sponsorship of our programmes,” Kuttan notes. A few paid courses on special subjects bring in additional revenue.
The start-up, which presently has around 10-12 partners including the likes of Fortis and Tata Memorial hospitals, is working with more collaborators to add even more specialties. Over 200 hours of video content is currently offered including lectures by experts, quizzes, assignments and assessments across five specialities namely gynaecology, endocrinology, oncology, cardiology and internal medicine. The 12-member team is working towards adding more videos from five more specialty areas over the course of the next three to six months.
To scale up Kuttan and her team plans to add more specialty areas to reach out to more doctors. “We are also looking at offering the platform for private as well as government doctors, because 70% of India resides in the rural area, which constantly struggles for availability of well-informed and knowledgeable doctors,” Kuttan notes. The start-up claims to be receiving partnership requests from West Asia, South East Asia and Africa.
After raising an initial investment of 1 crore from an undisclosed angel investor, the team is now looking at targeted revenue of 15-20 crore by FY19. Kuttan admits that it might require a lot of behavioural change at the user end for the idea to gain popularity, but is determined to do it. She says, “Our aim is to move the needles of the pharma companies from the conventional ways to the digital side, as well as to encourage doctors to continue the culture of keeping themselves updated.”