By Miracle Nwankwo
Women in healthcare are beginning to launch out into a whole new sector which is the health tech startup industry where business solutions are combined with technology. In India, a Pediatric Cardiologist, Sunita Maheshwari moved to Healthcare entrepreneurship with the aim of employing technology to solve medical issues.
Sunita co-founded Teleradiology Solutions (TRS), alongside her husband Arjun Kalyanpur in 2002 to provide teleradiology services to hospitals around the world. With about 18 years in the health tech industry, the company is one of the best radiology service providers in India.
Sunita was born and raised in Hyderabad, she had her MBBS in the Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad and MD in Paediatric Cardiology from Yale University. She returned to her home country, India in 1999 and settled with her husband in Bangalore.
For ten years, Sunita served as the Head of the Department of Pediatric Cardiology at Narayana Hrudayalaya until her and her husband decided to start their own company. The company was conceived when her husband started working as a faculty member at his alma mater, Yale University. The couple thought of starting a company for the university in Bangalore, India. When the company kicked off, Sunita had to balance her full-time job at Narayana Hrudayalaya and the company.
The company commenced in 2002, serving only a few hospitals in the US. Shortly thereafter, they went into a deal with the Singapore Health Ministry. The deal took three years to materialize, but within the 3-year space, TRS grew from $100,000 Company to $1 million. With TRS’ help, they set up Singapore’s first teleradiology.
While the company began to gain global impact, Sunita was more concerned about TRS benefiting her home country India while expansion and growth continued.
Today Sunita has built a global trademark for TRS. The company operates in over 60 rural hospitals across India, not only limited to India but other regions like Africa and the Middle East.
TRS leverages on technology for a faster, easier, and more convenient way to deliver its services. It is structured in a way that their radiologists can report from multiple places like India, US, and Israel, to mention a few, making it possible for a radiologist to be available 24 hours for diagnosis. Also, online tests and reviews are made available to ensure quality control, coupled with intensive training.
TRS had a lot of teething challenges, ranging from an infrastructure deficit, getting reliable bandwidth, etc. which resulted to the company spending about Rs1 crore per year on the internet alone, as all the cases were consulted live with images coming from across the globe, within 30-40 minutes.
Sunita was persistent and faced the challenges squarely, which eventually paid off as TRS started working with the government of India. This was a welcome development for the company as it created more believability, especially from the private sector, who were at first suspicious of their motive for coming to India.
For Sunita Maheshwari, it has never been about the money, rather more about impacting lives, innovate, and connecting with people. She proved this fact eight years ago, when she formed a foundation that builds TR software to take diagnostics to patients who could not afford it in rural communities. The company is called Telerad Foundation, launched in 2007 and has a record of about 80,000 test reports that were done without charge. The foundation builds telehealth solutions using artificial intelligence in radiology.
Sunita is still practising as a part-time pediatric cardiologist. She serves as the ‘Chief Dreamer’ at RxDx, a Pre-Hospital in Whitefield, Banglore which provides health care to communities through multi-speciality clinics; she hopes to ensure that every patient feels more like a ‘guest’ rather than a ‘patient’.
Sunita is an amazon whose efforts and acts of kindness have impacted many lives. In 2009, she was nominated as one of the Top 20 women achievers in medicine in India. She has also been featured in the book ‘India’s Most Powerful Women’ in 2016. She is the 2014 recipient of ‘Amazing Indian’ award by Times Now. In 2010, the former US President, Barack Obama, invited her to the States for a meeting.