Sunita Maheshwari, the co-founder of Teleradiology Solutions, one of the best radiology companies for radiology services in India, describes herself as “one of those kids who always knew she wanted to go to medical school”. Her first love was medicine and not technology. But as luck and destiny would have it, the two came together to give Sunita an amazing opportunity.
Amrita Paul and Ria Das report on her journey
Brought up in Hyderabad, she went to Osmania Medical College followed by AIIMS and then did her Paediatric’s and Paediatric Cardiology training at Yale University in the US. She was amply clear that she wanted to work in India as a doctor so she signed a prenuptial agreement with her husband that they would finish training and return to India. Seventeen years hence, the couple are based out of Bengaluru, and she is “working as a Paediatric cardiologist, training postgraduates across India via e-teaching, co-founding and scaling some exciting health care ventures and generally, enjoying this adventure called life.”
Sunita Maheshwari was among the select people in tech medicine who were invited to meet Barack Obama
CALL OF NEED
She shares that the company was started out of necessity, “My husband-Dr Arjun Kalyanpur, an AIIMS/Cornell/Yale-trained radiologist could not get a job in Bangalore from 1999-2002 so he started working for our alma mater Yale University from here. One thing led to another and soon we had a company on our hands – we are really accidental entrepreneurs.”
Medicine to entrepreneurship: How Sunita Maheshwari Is Delivering Global Solutions
After starting Teleradiology Solutions, the couple reinvested the profits into growing it and building a campus. Prior to that, Maheshwari had been working as head of the department of Pediatric cardiology at Narayana Hrudayalaya and felt that a lot of patients who came to the hospital could be seen in a pre-hospital environment and thus was born the idea of RXDX – a pre-hospital full-service multi-specialty clinic which can handle most medical issues. She adds, “I grew RXDX from one clinic location to 3 with over 25 in corporate smaller clinics. I had always imagined I would be a clinical doctor only my whole life but once the entrepreneurial bug bit me I was hooked!”
“I found the creativity of entrepreneurship exciting and the ability to impact the lives of our growing employee base as well patients locally through RXDX and globally through teleradiology was very satisfying.”
The Health Center aspires to provide an experience where a patient feels like a guest. But in the quest to provide affordable quality healthcare, the challenges in India primarily relate to a shortage of trained manpower. Maheshwari explains, “There is an average of 47,000 MBBS doctors per year and only 19,000 post graduate medical seats. The number of radiologists for a country this size is minuscule – just 10,000 for over a billion people. Although teleradiology and e-teaching are one way to help alleviate this shortage, the shortage of good quality specialized doctors has led to a spike in salaries and reimbursements in order to retain them. This leads to an increase in health care costs and affects our ability to do very low-cost work in India.”
She informs that there is a shortage of good nurses as well, for many of them migrate overseas for better reimbursement. She feels that health care organizations need to pay nurses and paramedical staff better in order for them to stay and work in India as without them it is hard to run a high-quality service. On the other hand, rising costs of specialist doctors and high costs of admin staff are also proving to be a continuous challenge.
DOCTOR TO ENTREPRENEUR
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, the doctor thought that entrepreneurship was about money and money alone. She says, “However now, I find that not to be the whole story. Entrepreneurship is exciting because it is about having an idea and making it work. I have never been motivated by money but impacting lives, doing things well, innovating, creating, connecting with others – these things excite me and entrepreneurship is all of that and more.”
“A by-product of successfully running these companies is that I have made money and I am now able to use that financial resource to make a tangible impact in the society.”
“We have set up playgrounds in government schools through the trust fund People4people, help patients in remote parts of India with high quality reports via our Telrad Foundation, incubate and grow other health care ventures such as Telrad tech which builds teleradiology software and now expand into new areas such as overall telehealth delivery, including something close to my heart – telecardiology.”
The entrepreneur is now working towards scaling all the companies entities and hopes that in five years Teleradiology Solutions, RXDX and Telrad tech are more than double in terms of revenue and impact than now. She adds, “I hope we have a good professional team in place to run these entities so that I can focus on my trust fund and impact more children’s lives, focus on my clinical work of pediatric cardiology and my writing and teaching. I have worked very hard the past three decades and I hope I can make a little time to enjoy my kids adventures – my daughter Alisha as she enters the world of being a doctor and my son Adil, who will hopefully be India’s tennis champion by then.”