Have you heard about the man named ‘Manjhi’ who carved a road through a whole treacherous mountain after his wife passed away trying to cross the same mountain?
Here, we to you a similar story to you where Denesh Mutha, the Founder of Strides Software Solutions situated in Aurangabad, a city in the state of Maharashtra, went to lengths to develop a blood bank software after he lost one of his close friends to a major blood transfusion reaction.
In the following interview, Denesh tells us the inspiring story behind the emergence of Strides Software Solutions and its successful journey so far on the strong foundations of AI and ML.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Give us a brief overview of your journey as Founder of Strides Software Solutions.
In early 2010, my close friend Vijay was admitted to hospital for illness. He was prescribed blood transfusion cause of anaemia. What appeared to be a normal treatment suddenly became ugly, as Vijay’s health deteriorated after transfusion. He had a major transfusion reaction and succumbed to it in just 24 hrs.
This was a big shock for us and me being a regular O negative blood donor, could not understand how such things can ever happen. On auditing the entire blood bank flow, I realized that the human body is one of the most complex systems and so is Blood transfusion.
- Multiple Flows, Rules, Regulation and Norms are involved into it.
- Result outcomes are based on multiple parameters at various stages
- It was now clear that serious, potentially fatal, issues exist at each step of transfusion process due to the ‘human factor’
- “Everyone makes mistakes. But our reliance on cognitive processes is prone to bias which makes laboratory and transfusion errors more likely than we think.”
That was the starting point of the journey of Strides wherein after searching for several blood bank software to enable safe blood, I finally decided to build one on my own as a side project. After almost 3 pivots and 4 products, we are now working with 200+ blood banks and hospitals. Through our product, we have screened 48 lac + donors, identified 1.3 lac ineligible donors and prevented them from donating blood, identified 5 lac + near missed events, enabled 75 lac+ component issued to patients.
Tell us more about Strides, its vision, and the key aspects of its stronghold in the HealthTech space.
Our vision is to eliminate cognitive bias-based errors from the transfusion lifecycle using innovative technology-based products. This has been our NorthStar, and the entire team is driven by it. The only way to identify such errors and determine a workable solution is by closely working with the users at each stage of the transfusion cycle. This approach has become our foundational strength and since then we have marched ahead towards our goal of Safe and high-quality blood transfusion.
Almost 80% of our customers are through word of mouth. We are now working with Government institutions like AIIMS Delhi, Rushikesh etc., ILBS Hospital, SBTC etc., corporate hospitals like Hinduja Hospital, Sir HN Reliance Hospital, Fortis, Rainbow, Star etc., – standalone blood banks like Indian Red cross, Lions, Lifeline Arpan etc.
From a business leadership perspective, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the healthcare sector?
It has been a tough time and the impact has been severe, but it has brought a lot of opportunities as well. As a business leader ensuring the safety of my colleagues is of prime importance to me but as a company working in healthcare space, we had to step out and play the role of front-line workers as well.
The pandemic demanded quick adoption of new norms and implement the same in our products so that our clients who are the real front-line workers could leverage the same. Right from new donor screening norms to new blood component processes and products like Convalescent plasma, we had to adopt quickly and ensure we deploy it quicker at our customer places and ensure the safety of our team members. It has been very challenging business wise, to maintain the cash flow, as it required a lot of adoptions, hard decisions and workups to sail through the situation.
What is your opinion on the necessity for healthcare companies to align their offerings with modern technological developments, especially when it comes to catering to the ever-evolving patient needs and preferences?
Healthcare is the fastest evolving industry off recently. The reason is not just advent of new technologies but also the acceptance of technology by healthcare experts, doctors and service providers which until a couple of years back was not so great. This is a great opportunity, and this can be made count only if we provide a seamless experience for the health tech users.
This requires aligning with modern technology developments and showing flexibility in integration with multiple systems using global protocols. The Healthcare industry will continue evolving at a fast pace and the only way a HealthTech company can keep up with the pace, is by continuously innovating and aligning offerings with the on-ground operations and not just virtual ones.
What efforts did you take during the pandemic to sustain operations and ensure safety of your team at the same time?
Like everyone, we started working from home, but our implementation team was mobile from July 2020. We had to strictly control our cash flow and changed our priority of product development from sales-oriented features to features required to help our customers adopt to the pandemic.
The sales activity was automatically stopped for a few months and our only mantra was to continuously interact with our customers i.e., Doctors and blood bank team members, understand the new norms which they were required to follow and work out the same on our products so that they could seamlessly do their jobs in the pandemic.
If given a chance, what is the one thing that you would change about the HealthTech ecosystem in India?
“Resistance by Hospital IT department or third-party healthcare service providers for integration” – This is one big block which comes in adopting new health tech products and this is what I would like to change about the HealthTech ecosystem in India.
As an established industry leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into the healthcare services industry?
- Patience and Perseverance.
- Work closely with the users on the ground
- Follow international protocols and compliance norms as early as possible.
How do you envision on further strengthening Strides’ stronghold in 2021?
We are very excited for the road ahead. Especially with the strong roads of AI & ML, and strong adoption as well as acceptance by the health care community we have worked out on our technology strategy to highly adopt AI & ML to solve key problems in the blood transfusion lifecycle.
We are continuously engaging with our customers and identifying problems which otherwise were not considered as problems and workout solutions that will set new benchmarks in the transfusion medicine domain.