We aim to ease patient burden via innovative healthcare financing: Aniruddha Sen, Kenko Health

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Technology powered platform Kenko Health provides healthcare services and financing in a single package. It offers services via monthly subscription plans that cover a range of expenses beyond the traditional, like medicines, doctor fees, lab tests, mental health, dental care and OPD hospital bills. Kenko raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital in 2022. Prior to that the startup had raised $1.7 million from BEENEXT, Orios Venture Partners, Waveform Ventures and 9Unicorns.

Currently, Kenko Health is operating out of 40 cities across India including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Nagpur, Indore, Lucknow, Vijaywada, Kochi, Mangalore etc. In an e-mail interview, Aniruddha Sen, co-founder of Kenko Health discusses the need for such a platform, value for users and more. Edited excerpts:

What are the pain points you are trying to address?
Approximately, 75% of an individual’s lifetime healthcare expenses are incurred outside of a hospital. Termed as OPD (Outpatient Department) costs, these are not covered under most health insurance plans. As a result, there is a huge burden of OPD expenses on the majority of the Indian population. Hence, there is a need to design and offer plans that cover all aspects of health expenses, as well as to create a technology-enabled ecosystem providing such services at one click.
We aim to ease out this burden through healthcare financing, by providing plans to cover OPD and IPD expenses through online subscriptions that give access to healthcare. We also realise that the reimbursement procedure can be cumbersome, and hence, most of our services are truly cashless, i.e., the subscriber only pays the already-discounted prices.

The pandemic brought with it unprecedented mental health challenges. With job losses, social distancing requirements, anxiety about the disease, and other pressures, the importance of mental health was magnified. In 2016, the average Indian household spent between Rs 1000 and Rs 1500 on mental health, and this number was expected to rise as mental healthcare became more prominent. We include mental healthcare in our plans. We have also expanded our coverage to include other areas, such as vision and dental care. We realised that our priority should be to include parts of medical care that are typically unaccounted for but are necessary.

Which hospitals/labs do you partner with? How do patients benefit?
Our primary objective is to make affordable healthcare accessible and we are committed to achieving this goal.We aim at building a Health Management Organisation (HMO) – a holistic concept that looks beyond just covering healthcare expenses, towards actively managing customers’ medical conditions, thereby leading to better long-term health outcomes.

To this end, we provide our subscribers with the option to choose from multiple healthcare facilities in the country, irrespective of the city they are in. We have also partnered with doctors and specialists around the country. Our subscribers have the option to either visit their neighbourhood doctor or take a video consultation.

What’s your business model? What is the cost of the subscription services (range)?
We have an asset light business model. It involves partnering with insurance firms and healthcare specialist startups to address the gap in primary health care financing. Traditional healthcare providers typically require long-term commitments of a year or more. This led us to introduce monthly subscription plans, offering flexibility to our users.

Our business model also involves incorporating technology wherever possible. For instance, online doctor consultations became a necessary technology-driven solution during the pandemic and are now a standard part of our services. Not only does this provide accessibility for the user, but it also allows us to consult with a broad database of doctors without needing a physical infrastructure. This enables us to provide home care and keep consultation expenses under control. Kenko has implemented other similar technology-driven solutions, some of which are unique or used by only a few healthcare providers. Kenko plans start at ₹299 a month and go up to ₹1499 a month for individuals, families, senior citizens and diabetics.

Patients usually don’t want a middleman when it comes to healthcare. They like to directly see the doctor. What value does Kenko add to patients, doctors, and hospitals?
We understand the scepticism behind involving a middleman. Hence, most of our services are prepaid services, wherein the subscriber pays the already-discounted price. We have multiple partners, but we’ve tried to eliminate the need for a middleman. Want to see the doctor? Log into the app, select a timeslot and show up for your appointment. Want medicines? Go to the app, select the medicines you want, and then take care of yourself while we home-deliver your medicines. We aim to provide our users access to healthcare services through a single app.

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