Making Healthcare Accessible, One Village at a Time
As an inquisitive child, Sujay Santra questioned the need for Kharagpur residents to travel far distances to Chennai and Vellore to get quality medical treatment. After receiving an MCA degree from Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers (IETE), Hyderabad, and gaining experience by working for over 10 years with tech giants Oracle and IBM, Sujay decided to address this question himself. Blending his strengths in technology with his passion to do good for the society led to the birth of iKure.
An entrepreneur always starts with identifying the core need of the market. In Sujay’s case, he observed that no major companies were using technology to bridge the gap between doctors and patients. So, iKure began as a tech-provider to NGOs and government agencies. However, he soon realised that the entire healthcare system was broken. Government agencies were resistant to change and the local players felt that their livelihood was threatened by his company. That motivated him to pivot the offering to encompass the entire healthcare network. This was achieved through an operationally efficient hub-and-spoke model, consisting of four hubs and 80 spokes across six states catering to five million patients.
Success had counterpoints of challenges too. Uncooperative local players and scheming small-time doctors, who held significant influence on the local people and government agencies, obstructed the process of acquiring required bureaucratic permissions. But Sujay displayed resolute resilience and always found a solution to work for him in such challenging situations.
“Often we are so passionate about the idea and so confident of its success, that we forget to prepare for failure — Always have a plan B, C, and D.”
Sujay’s resilience and determination have brought him into the spotlight on numerous occasions such as case studies about him and iKure being taught at MIT, and receiving appreciation from the President and Vice President of India. For him, however, receiving the first position in the Global Sourcing Council’s 3S awards in New York remains the highest point to date.
Even amidst all the adulation, he believes that all his dreams haven’t been fulfilled. His goal is still to provide affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare to all the rural population in India. In the next five years, iKure aims to impact the lives of more than 100 million underprivileged people and, in some sense, become a leader in the space of social innovation in ICT-related health- care services.
Persistence and unwavering commitment to making a difference keeps Sujay soldier on. He is now intimately entwined with the complexities of a system that needs decade-long attention, and he won’t rest until all the wrongs are righted.