HelpNow: Medical Assistance on Wheels

Aditya Makkar, CEO, Co-Founder, Shikhar Agrawal, CTO, Co-Founder, Venkatesh Amrutwa, COO, HelpNow

Growing aliments among people have caused an increase in operational capacity of hospitals and emergency medical services that aid patients in getting quality emergency medical care at vital times. By providing medical support in crucial times and saving millions of lives, ambulance services play an important role.

Private and public ambulance transport services are becoming more prevalent as an unavoidable service for urgent patients at critical times. One company that is providing ambulance services at the earliest is HelpNow.

HelpNow has integrated technology into medical transport to create a service that is quick and reliable. It also has highly trained paramedics to manage critical health situations. The team is very positive about creating a service that will uplift the existing healthcare transportation system in India and turn it into one that will be easily accessible and affordable to all.

Following are the highlights of the interview.

Describe about your company/firm/profession in detail.

HelpNow is a 24×7 ambulance service, which was launched two years ago with just 12 ambulances in Mumbai. It has grown today into a network of more than 350 vehicles in Mumbai alone, with operations in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, and rapid expansions across the country. Our helpline number is 88222 88222 across all these cities, and our USP is the fact that we have brought down the arrival time of an ambulance from 50 mins to 15 mins. Our mission, eventually, is to provide our services completely free of cost. 

What made you venture into the healthcare transportation services sector?

In the words of Aditya Makkar,

“Every year, lakhs of people die in India due to lack of/delay in medical treatment. There is a huge shortage of ambulances in India. To add to that, the average arrival time of an ambulance is anywhere between 50 mins to an hour, which as we have seen, increased to several hours during Covid.”

“We realized that a quick and efficient emergency medical service was the need of the hour. We launched HelpNow as a 24×7 ambulance service to fulfil that need and to bring down the arrival time of an ambulance so that there is no delay in treatment for those in medical emergencies. Using technology and GPS, we have currently managed to bring down the ambulance arrival time to 15 minutes.”

What kind of offerings do you provide to your clients?

Shikhar Agrawal says,

“We have a variety of ambulance services to suit the needs of all our patients. So, whether it’s BLS (Basic Life Support), ALS (Advanced Life Support), cardiac, ICU, air, train, inter-city, neo-natal, vet or hearse, we cater to all medical needs. Right now, we are available in four cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, and Pune. But our nation-wide expansion plans are going on in full steam.”

“Our ambulances are available at subsidized rates, and we also offer free services to those with financial difficulties. And despite the ongoing pandemic, our constant endeavour has been to provide a safe, 24×7 logistics’ network for transporting regular/Covid patients, drugs, phlebotomists, healthcare workers, and blood/organ/medical supplies.”

What kind of challenges have you faced while entering the healthcare transportation services sector?

According to Aditya Makkar,

“Every start-up has its own set of challenges and teething troubles. The biggest challenge for us was the fact that barely eight months after we launched, the country was struck by Covid, which put the spotlight on India’s poor healthcare infrastructure.”

“Though we were not prepared for a health crisis this large, medical transportation was the worst hit, we plunged right in and did our best to continue saving lives through our 24×7 well-equipped and sanitized ambulances.”

How much your company/business was affected in these pandemic times and what were the steps taken by you to curb the damages all the while helping your clients and maintaining the safety of your employees?

Shikhar Agrawal expresses,

“The demand for ambulances, as we know, increased manifold. In the peak of Covid, the waiting hours for an ambulance surged from two to six to even 12. It reached a situation where if you were lucky, you got one!”

“So, we started raising funds through fund-raising platforms to meet the growing demand. We used the time effectively between the first and second wave to put our operations’ teams and strategies in place in other cities added more vehicles to our fleet and created a battalion of dedicated warriors – our ambulance drivers and paramedics.”

“We have taken utmost care of our ambulance staff. Whether it’s PPE kits, sanitizers, gloves or other first-aid medical supplies, our ambulance staff is well-equipped with all Covid-safety tools.”

Where do you envision your company/business to be in the long run and what are your future goals? How do you plan to embrace the changes happening in your industry?

Aditya Makkar says,

“We want HelpNow to be available in every city and town of India, and to be completely free of cost, so that no one is devoid of a life-saving service such as an ambulance, either for lack of funds or availability.”

“HelpNow is also branching out into different emergency medical services’ verticals – from a mobile-based ambulance service app to a wellness app to an e-clinic – all of which will be digitizing healthcare in India. Tech-integrated healthcare will revolutionize medical services in the country. And HelpNow will play a huge role in this transformation.”

What is the current industrial scenario of the healthcare transportation services sector?

In Shikhar Agrawal words.

“The healthcare transportation service is the backbone of any healthcare ecosystem. The availability of reliable transport impacts a person’s access to appropriate and timely healthcare.”

“While healthcare transport services in India have come a long way from what they were, unfortunately, they’re still not enough to cater to the needs of our humongous population.”

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