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Monday, November 17, 2014

Why I Decided to Join an eHealth Startup?

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” - Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

Well, this is how I interpret my relationship with my blogs and especially with all of you who have been with me since the time I keyed in my very first post in 2007. I have grown with my personal little space on the web, literally!! Fast forward, I am in Berlin now and working for a very interesting startup: Klara whose mission is to make healthcare accessible and affordable to every person in this world using the technology. As a starter, we are tackling the dermatology sector, meaning for any skin problem Klara is your first go to solution. Using the Klara app, you can take a picture of your skin spot and send it to a board certified dermatologist and receive a consultation within hours, yes it's that simple! 

I Was Almost Diagnosed With Tuberculosis (TB)

Before I go in any more details about the app, here is my true little life story- In April 2014, I moved from Dusseldorf to Berlin for my internship. It was all going fine until one day in the last week of May I had a boil on my left shoulder. A boil is usually a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle, so I thought it will go away by itself, but it didn't happen. Surprisingly, after 3-4 days I started to have a bit of swelling on my boil that restricted the movement of my arm. As a result, I found it extremely painful to move my arm. The pain got so bad that on a Saturday evening, I got admitted as an emergency case in a public hospital in Berlin. They quickly gave me pain killers and by next morning, the pain was gone and I could easily move my arm too. This is how it looked when I got admitted-

skin boil
Boil on left shoulder
I was already feeling better, but the boil was still there and the doctors were still trying to find out what's wrong with it. I went through several medical tests, scans and what not, but nothing seemed worrying. Then one mid-night (4-5th night in the hospital), a doctor came to me and asked me if I can see her in her office. As soon as, I entered her room she told me if I can wear a mask around my face. I was really puzzled, but I took the mask from her and placed around my nose and mouth. She told me that I probably have Tuberculosis (TB). I said in shock- what!! She said it's not confirmed but we suspect it and until the final results come we will have to move you into an isolation ward. Please pack your stuff and an ambulance with take you with your bed.

I was too distort that night. I thought to myself that I came to Germany as a student and just when I was about to complete my final internship, I am admitted in a hospital as a suspect case of TB. My family is in India and I didn't want to make them worry so I didn't call anyone. Now, I was spending time in an isolation with doctors and nurses coming in their masks and I kept wondering how bad it can get- I am neither a smoker nor a tobacco person, I usually live a healthy lifestyle and here I am in a hospital. One test result after another, the doctors kept crossing the diseases: Hepatitis, HIV, Heart related and finally, TB!! Yup, I had none, but a bacterial skin infection that had somehow got inside my body. 

Before I Was Treated for Infection I Had Another Surgery 

I was relieved that it's nothing big, but only for a day because next day I had a severe appendicitis pain. At 2 am I had my CT scans and the doctor told me that they would like to operate immediately. They asked my permission and with all that pain I quickly signed the paper. So, I have no TB, the boil still continues to exist and I am on a liquid diet post appendicitis surgery. Wow, what else...right?

On 12th day in the hospital, when my appendicitis had subsided doctors were now checking my body for infections. Next up was Endoscopy, CT Scans, ECG etc....yup more tests! It turned out that I have an infection lung, so the doctors had to take out the bad water out of the lungs, how? By puncturing my lungs, o my god...that was the worst part! I was literally screaming because the anesthesia doesn't work on that part of the muscle. However, I got done with it 130ml of dirty fluid came out of my lungs and the doctor was happily showing it to me. 

1 Month and 67 Infusions

After that I had almost 67 bottles of infusions in next 18 days, until I was discharged with a big beards and a lighter me (7-8kgs lost). The last week at the hospital was certainly not bad, as I was feeling way better and Germany was cruising to the World Cup Football 2014 finals. Nevertheless, the thing that I have still not mentioned is the cost of entire medical treatment. Frankly, I was a lot worried about it, I was covered by a private insurer for foreign students and wondered if they will cover all my costs. The hospital seemed super confident that everything will be covered and kept doing their business as usual. 

Now Klara

In hindsight, I was really glad that while all this happened I was in Germany, a country where healthcare reforms are strong and support people, insurance covers all the cost and healthcare is still not as broken or costly as in other parts of the world. Having said that this one month inside the hospital gave me a sneak peek into the medical system. I figured out on several instances that even though the medical devices used are getting better and advanced still there is a big space of building and using technology for hospital operations, patients management, data management and diagnostic efficiency etc. to name a few.

After several thoughts I realized that the two biggest open issues in healthcare are still- accessibility and affordability. Is healthcare easily accessible to all? Is it affordable for all? The truth is- it's still not! We are far from closer and there has to be far more technological developments in healthcare space that will solve those two big problems. Next up, it turned out that I met founders of Klara. I was really impressed with the products. I realized Klara was the answer to both those questions- accessibility and affordability. Using the Klara app you can connect to a world class dermatologist and receive consultation at a cost which is almost 10 times cheaper than a visit to a dermatologist in-person. Plus Klara is building top notch products that are making doctors super efficient. The fundamental idea is making the dermatology practice deliver better and efficient results using technology and reducing cost for the patients. From the very moment, I knew that this is the company I would love to be part of and I did it :) I am working at Klara!

PS. For a limited time Klara is covering for your first bill, meaning you can get your first consultation for free. Try Klara app - USA and International (Non-USA)       

3 comments:

Vibhuti Bhandarkar said...

OMG Dear Vivek Nanda,
I was going through one of the very first few posts at my own blog in 2007 and spotted your comment. YOu were one of the first few friends Id made in the blogosphere. Im extremely sorry we lost touch and that I get to read such a rivetting post when Ive hopped over to your blog after half a decade.
Hope you are doing fine now and my wishes with you.
TC
Vibhuti

Vivek Nanda said...

Hey Vibhuti, good to hear from you. Long time, thanks a lot. I am fine now :)

Anonymous said...

hi vivek...
i m a doc from india, hope u ll b doing well now. its nice to hear that u hv joined klara which eyes to make healthcare accessible and affordable to every person in this world. but healthcare system is fragmented and still out of reach of poor in ur own country india. what u think abt its acessibility provided to d indian. i hope u understand my intent. great minds like u required in our india most....regards

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