Women leaders of healthcare and diagnostic sectors in India

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The healthcare and diagnostics sector of India is witnessing the rise of enterprising women leading from the front, bringing in a revolution of sorts. By effecting humungous change through innovative and path-breaking startups and other initiatives, which are tapping the enormous potential in enabling deliverable healthcare solutions to all sections of the population in the remotest areas of India, they have – through innovative technology solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning (ML) – managed to carve a special and notable niche for themselves. However, the participation of women as leaders in this arena is underexplored, to say the least. Women make up for a formidable 70% of the total of 43 million healthcare employees globally. Of all health-related product- sales globally, women make for 80% of the buyers and are also key decision-makers for the healthcare of their families.

A few notable and significant women flag bearers in the healthcare arena are:

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson, Biocon, India’s largest biopharma company, stands tall on the top rung of the metaphorical ladder symbolizing women achievers in the healthcare sector, followed by Suneeta Reddy, managing director of Apollo Hospitals, Cipla’s executive vice-chairperson Samina Hamied, and Lupin’s CEO Vinita Gupta.

Two enterprising lady doctors, Dr. Asha Bhatnagar & Dr. Angeli Misra, founded Lifeline Laboratory, New Delhi, over 31 years ago, starting out in a small garage in an area of 600 sq. ft. in south Delhi. Since then, Lifeline Laboratory, with these dynamic forces at the helm, has taken giant strides towards becoming one of the top pathologies and diagnostic laboratories not just in Delhi or India, but has also made it to the list of the top 200 pathology labs in the world several times. It now boasts of excellence in personalized doorstep service through its hub and spoke model and conducts a vast range of highly sophisticated and sensitive tests, employing the latest innovative technology solutions, state-of-art equipment, following stringent quality control standards. Its workforce today stands at 9 highly qualified specialists on its panel and a compassionate workforce of 150 skilled technicians and phlebotomists.

Dr. Sunita Maheshwari, Chief Dreamer at Teleradiology Solutions and RXDX multi-specialty acute care clinics, Bengaluru, started a software company that designs affordable teleradiology software, to make affordable diagnostic solutions accessible to the rural population in remote areas. She also forayed into setting up Healtheminds, a tele-counseling start-up initiative.

Portea Medical, a home healthcare company that provides patient services in the convenience and comfort of the patients’ homes, was founded by Meena Ganesh. Her company operates across 16 cities and offers a wide range of affordable services including elderly care, post-operative care, and continuing care for patients with chronic conditions, along with the whole gamut of allied healthcare services.

MPower, founded and headed by Neerja Birla, works in the field of mental healthcare services and offers affordable solutions for dealing with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, to economically underprivileged sections of society. MPower’s services range from spreading awareness to diagnosis, psychiatric treatment, and counseling.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the executive chairperson of Biocon, India’s largest biopharma company, holds the top rung in the healthcare sector, followed by Suneeta Reddy, managing director of Apollo Hospitals.

At No.4 and Cipla’s executive vice-chairperson Samina Hamied at No.6. Hamied also was the highest rank gainer in the list this year, moving up from No.29 last year to No.6. Another big gainer from the healthcare sector this year was Lupin’s CEO, Vinita Gupta,

Mapmygenome was established in 2011 by Anu Acharya, which has created and spread awareness substantially, about the link between a person’s genetic makeup and predisposition and risk to certain diseases as well as their prevention, through devising the Genomepatri, which also helps analyze and predict risks through diet and lifestyle factors and drug responses. Mapmygenome has also devised a molecular diagnostic kit for diagnosing tuberculosis.

Swati Subodh of 1M1B, through her healthcare research skills and experience, coupled with her brother, Manav Subodh’s entrepreneurial skills, provide healthcare solutions to bridge the gap between grass-root entrepreneurs and underprivileged sections of the population, by providing the former the requisite skill training and technology access to enable them to set up their own micro healthcare enterprises, and thereby providing the latter the access to affordable healthcare.

Geeta Manjunatha & Nidhi Mathur set up Niramai (Non-Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine Intelligence) to provide – especially for women in rural areas, small towns, and cities who lack access to affordable tests – a non-invasive, radiation-free, low-cost, safe, and non-touch test for screening and early detection of breast cancer. The Niramai method of breast cancer detection, while also being a less expensive option, can detect a tumor 5 times smaller than what a clinical examination can detect. It does not require the use of any heavy equipment, or a mammogram either. Considering that only 3% of Indian women get tested for breast cancer and 50% of those women who are detected with breast cancer, survive, Niramai is an effective tool for awareness and breast cancer prevention.

Aditi Hazra Ganju, the founder of the Togetherforher.com community, took this great leap of an initiative to provide guidance to pregnant mothers-to-be to make confident decisions to choose the requisite maternity center ideally suited to them. It also provides reviews of the centers to help them make that choice, along with creating informed awareness on pre-and post-maternity care.

Oyehelp, founded by Seema Avasarala & Meena Kapoor, took up the initiative to use technology to collect a comprehensive database of healthcare professionals, to offer affordable and accessible quality healthcare solutions. Oyehelp is a healthcare platform that helps connect all the dots and enables it to become a seamless process.

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