By N Krishna (M.Sc Theoretical Computer Science, 2018-2023)
Mr. Sridharan Sivan, founder of S10 Healthcare Solutions Pvt Ltd. and an alumnus of the institution (B.E EEE, 1985-1989) has been a highly motivated entrepreneur till date. He has set up and managed 5 successful businesses in the past and is currently on to his 6th and the most exciting venture till date, which he spoke to us about on the sidelines of E-Next 2020.
Q. How much of a role does an organization like S10 Healthcare play in the prevention of diseases?
Today, 60% percent of diseases that exist are non-communicable, such as cancer, heart diseases, strokes, etc and quite naturally, billions of dollars go into the related aspects of preventing such diseases. It is hard to contain these diseases normally but prevention is a key aspect. We, at S10, look at it from two perspectives. We help doctors and hospitals become more productive in the kind of work they do. That aside, we also work with another organization called Safe Care to take this to the lives of people. We provide healthcare at the school level and the organizational level. Nobody wants to be paying a visit to the hospital for every small issue. That is where the concept of having a clinic in your campus or an application on your device that helps you with these issues based on information on your daily activities and habits is extremely convenient. It has the potential to embed itself within people’s lives. A lot of these diseases usually take shape at a very young age, the school level for instance, even if it does only manifest itself only at 40 years of age. Proper preventive care thus becomes essential. Thus, I believe that five aspects are key to this; a good diet, regular physical activity, no smoking, control over other habits and most importantly, strong emotional tolerance.
Q. What about S10 Healthcare uniquely identifies you amongst your partners in the healthcare industry?
In my previous venture, we worked a fair bit with organizations focused on life sciences. For instance, pharmaceutical companies like Novartis, Pfizer etc and we supported them in the process of drug synthesis, testing, data management and so on. As we worked with them, I noticed something that was occurring on a global scale. The Internet was generating a huge buzz, and consumerization was the key part of the story. I believed at some point that healthcare would also become a consumer-driven industry. Until then, it was revolving around the aspects of pharmaceutical companies, the government’s offerings, insurance policies and doctors, something that I understood was bound to change and I sought to capitalize on that. I think the biggest blockbuster drug in that aspect thus becomes the consumer. And that was the point based on which I submitted myself to the idea of S10. The organization focuses on the two most important people in healthcare, the doctor and the patient. Our differentiation stands at the fact that we solved real problems for both these people. The S in S10 stands for synchronization of demand and supply and the ‘10’ denotes binary digits. Overall, we seek to synchronize the advent of a digital healthcare industry and what already exists.
Q. S10 provides services to the doctors so that they can focus on the important aspect of their job, which is diagnosis. On a really small scale, say a clinic, where the demand is certainly within manageable limits, how can S10 make an impact?
The healthcare industry has a very localized market. A problem in the US, for instance, is not the issue in India. In the US, it is the sheer workload which kills the doctor because aspects like documentation play a phenomenal role. With the advent of regulations, this becomes a massive overhead for them. And so, in the span where they may otherwise be able to cater to 10 patients, they can cater to barely half the number. So we use tools like AI, ML and provide back-end support in the form of virtual scribes who can record the data in the process of a diagnosis thus, bringing back the productivity aspect into their jobs. I can confidently say that no other organization in the world up until now has been able to work to this end. We’ve expanded our presence into about 600 clinics at this point of time. With us in the loop, doctors don’t have to face burnouts and can focus on their jobs and their activities a lot better. In India, the difference is that the demand as such is quite spiky. And therefore, our role here is to match the wavering demand to the supply that is available and to this end, we’ve been able to work with a small network of clinics. The platform may be the same but the issue is a variant.
Q. Does S10 have a prospect in places such as educational institutions where there is a continuous demand for record-keeping and monitoring when it comes to healthcare?
This is where our India operations come into play. Here, we focus mostly on communities. We call our Indian solution a community bridge, one that connects doctors and the people, not patients. Our process in schools, for instance, begins with screening by non-invasive, safe methods. Once we collect this data from the entire set of students, we try and identify the issues to decide on the methodology necessary to provide continued healthcare. Hence, doctoral visits needn’t be episodic, while ensuring that the entire record-keeping process is centralized. These records are multi-faceted with various extensive categorizations. It is also multi-dimensional, primarily concerning age and time. It allows us to create “role models”, which is an ideal perspective against which every child is bench-marked to understand the gaps better. S10 is also able to classify them into 3 categories, high-risk, moderate-risk and low-risk with respect to the continuity of monitoring them, in that order. We have thus, seen extensive transformations in these children over a period of time. They’re able to share their issues with people in these clinics on campus and I think that is an indicator of how much of an impact we’ve been able to have. We’ve begun extending this framework to the corporate sector now. But the intention is clear, accessibility ensures that with age, these children can develop much better as individuals.
Q. How does S10 Healthcare look at the matter of compliance with Privacy and Data Protection Laws, which is the need of the hour in the digital healthcare industry?
I believe that data privacy and trust is an extremely important element in healthcare. The data in question is deeply personal and can provide tons of information. We, at S10, are highly focused on this matter in compliance with GDPR norms and any aggregation of data is de-identified. The aggregation itself occurs with the consent of the patients. As service providers, we’re only allowed to use the data to provide value for the patient. The government has to take the lead and ensure that the Personality Data Protection Bill is cleared and that by extension, ensure that the patient feels more secure about his/her data. This will certainly rebuild their trust in the system.
Q. At what level do you interact with other industries that feed in and out of the healthcare sector, say the pharmaceutical industry?
At this point, we do not have any interaction with the pharmaceutical industry. Our data may prove to be useful for them, but that’s a different aspect. We’re primarily focused on understanding the life cycle of a person. There are several categories of people in this regard, those who are unaware, those are aware but do not take any valid course of action, those are aware and try to take some course of action, those who are aware and do take some course of action and lastly, those who are aware and not only take meaningful steps, but also see due results. The pharmaceutical companies that you spoke of are merely supporting elements in this cycle. We’re not driven by them in any way, given the amount of skepticism in people about such companies and so we tap into them only when the need arises.
Q. How much support do you receive from the government, considering how much they also seem to emphasize on record keeping in the healthcare sector?
The concept of partnering with the government in this sector is huge. The idea of smart cities includes the concept of healthcare. While one aspect relates to the individual, the other relates to the environmental conditions. We want the government to work on the privacy and data laws with extensive clarity on data sharing and partnerships. We’re also working with institutes like the IIT’s on creating inter-operable, well-being alliances. We call them well-being alliances simply because it has to do more with how people are kept well rather than kept sick. It’s also necessary for it to be inter-operable because although data collection is done in different forms, we need to understand how they can be worked on jointly. This is where the concept of blockchain technology becomes an area of focus. That said, we are in discussions with the central and the state governments regarding how we can be involved in the smart city projects that are coming up and how the information that they have can be accessed by us in an effort to improve people’s lives.
Q. Since you mentioned blockchain, would S10 enter the technology space to build things according to your requirement?
S10 will certainly be a part of the technology loop where essential but I do not see us necessarily owning the chain. We’d be happy to see the alliance own the chain, possibly the government. But it necessarily has to be a neutral party that does so, because this is a long term, sustainable model and so, it should be on the companies to some extent. The Tamil Nadu government is taking some initiatives in this regard. We’ve specifically been asking the IITs to take the lead and work on the technology aspect so that we can all be a part of it
Q. On a concluding note, what does the future hold for S10?
We believe that the entire process of healthcare constitutes a behavioural change, which requires a very unique and different framework. We may work with a person and convince them to amend their behaviour but whether or not it will have a lasting impact is a question that will take some answering. I don’t specifically know what the future holds for us. We seek to improve the lives of millions of people and that is our focus. We’ve invested a fair bit of time in recent years on research and development to understand people’s behaviour. Recently, we opened a studio in Chennai that works in this regard and our understanding of the factors that impact their lives has grown immensely.
We’d like to thank Mr Sridharan Sivan for taking valuable time from his schedule to share his thoughts with us and we’d also like to thank the organizing team of E-Next for making this interview possible.
You’ll find me in a reality in which I believe I can do anything I put my mind to.
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