A personal loss motivated Samara Mahindra to launch The Carer Program, a healthcare startup that is focused on post cancer care for survivors. It aims to bring holistic therapies to cancer patients, survivors and family members in the comfort of their homes. The programme focuses on building immunity and providing the right measures in decreasing chances of relapse.
“Years ago, I lost my mother to cancer. She got great medical treatment but I started to notice what was lacking in cancer care at that time. We actually lost her due to immunity crashing. Though the medical treatment was great but it was counter active because it was crashing her immune system. Eventually the treatment killed her and not the disease,” says Mahindra who hails from the famous business family.
She adds that if one doesn’t take care of their immune system, which is our first line of defence, there is a big problem. “That’s when I moved to the USA and started learning medical science from scratch. I was exposed to the entire world of holistic therapies, which is using holistic and complementary therapies for the immune system. I wanted to bring the concept to India,” says Mahindra who always had an interest in healthcare.
What does the programme offer
Mahindra says that they look at personalised dietary nutritional intervention for each and every patient keeping in mind background history, lifestyle and so on. “So we use functional foods to build the immune system. Along with that we also focus on physical rehab by detoxifying the body and strengthening it.
The third is mental well-being and that is done through meditation and also counselling for the patients and family members,” she says.
They have a team of 150 specialists across the country. “Our specialists go to the homes of every patient and we look at each case personally. We kind of shape it according to their personal needs,” says Mahindra.
Customising for Indian patients
The physical and financial needs of Indian patients are quite different from abroad. Mahindra says that the programme has been designed keeping Indian patients and their needs in mind. “When I was exposed to the whole field of integrated oncology, it was built into a hospital setting. I was probably going to do the same when I moved back to India and I did my internship with Tata Memorial Hospital to understand Indian healthcare and the state of the disease. That’s when I realised that building an integrated oncology unit in the hospital doesn’t work in India,” she says adding that they had to go to patients’ homes and give them doorstep service.
She says, “I also realised that patients need a lot of hand-holding and shaped the programme accordingly. The fact is that in India we have a reactive response rather than a proactive approach to healing. This means that when something goes terribly wrong with our health, we are ready to do everything to make it okay.”
Mahindra adds that they have subsidised programme rates in comparison to the West.
Talking about the challenges she says that a lot of patients thought they didn’t need the services. “Also, we didn’t have benchmarks on price set or how to go about marketing strategies really. It was all about going on the field and learning. We had to try everything before we knew what worked,” she says.
How can patients approach
The young entrepreneur says that people can approach them directly through their website or call them. “Once we get an inquiry, we set up an in-depth consultation so that we have an idea of what’s going on. They can also consult us through doctors. We have a tie-up with multiple hospitals and they send us their patients,” she says.