Hyderabad-based Cipher making a difference in cancer care

 A serial healthcare-entrepreneur Sonali Srungaram who created Cipher Healthcare that delivers cancer prevention drives, is optimistic that her efforts will help both patients and carers in the country in managing cancer better.
Her company has established an oncology venture ‘Cancer Clinics’ in Hyderabad. Cipher which is into the sixth year of its operations has created its clinic in Jubilee Hills to provide integrated services including rehabilitation.
The company is now talking to hospitals to create units that will be housed there. Atleast 1-2 units will be created in the next few months in this model. It will also create two more clinics in the next 2-3 years be it in Delhi/NCR or Chennai/Bengaluru or in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and the alternatives are being currently evaluated. Cipher wants to be an asset light company.
Backed with B Tech Computers in New Zealand and MBA from ISB, she served Accenture in Strategy Practice in the UK before moving to India in December 2011. She had inclination to work in healthcare. After first detection of cancer in her family in 2012 and three incidents between 2012 and 2014, oncology became a priority leading to creation of Cipher in 2012. Cipher was designed to be patient-centric organisation.
Patient-centric Initiative 
The venture has led to a long-term commitment for Sonali to dedicate time and effort to make life easier for all those who live in trauma to face cancer. She has built a team of doctors, psychological analysts and nutrition experts to offer a holistic solution.
Cancer Clinics, a first-of-its-class dedicated cancer specialty clinic aims to provide curated services for cancer patients and their carers/family to ensure well-being through integrative care by skilled healthcare professionals.
Sonali Srungaram, managing director, Cancer Clinics and founder Cipher, told Telangana Today, “Prevention and early detection became a priority for us with a hyper local approach. We started sensitising different communities making them aware of do’s and don’ts with a push on annual screening, connecting diagnostic and healthcare institutions.”
She explained, “We are offering screening and providing information, advice on nutrition, relaxation classes, psychologist and nursing support to patients or carers. Support is also being given to address depression, fear of end of life and recurrence of cancer and other issues not easy to address in a hospital setting.”
The cancer clinics are providing nursing, nutrition, counselling, physiotherapy and coaching. Cipher is one of the first healthcare companies to create a cadre of professionals called coaches, medico-social workers who can guide a patient through the treatment and rehabilitation journey to enhance wellbeing.
Cancer Helpline 
The ‘Cancer Helpline’ that was rolled out in August 2014 under Cipher attempted to navigate the treatment ecosystem that deals with the anxieties of both patients and carers. The helpline could serve 27,000 patients.
She informed, “About 15 per cent of these cases were palliative where patients haven’t responded to treatment. The helpline is receiving about 50 calls a day and 65 per cent of them come from tier-2 and districts. And 80 per cent of them can’t afford private healthcare and are seeking treatment options in government set up. The helpline is receiving calls from as far as Bangladesh, Africa, Sri Lanka and Nepal.”
A toll free number has also been created recently by Cancer Clinics to provide wider access to people across 31 districts in Telangana. It has begun genetic counseling too. Her company has started courses for practitioners in psycho-oncology and clinical nutrition to impart the needed skill sets. Online courses could be rolled out within next one year. There are also efforts to train the trainers in near future.
As of now, the Cancer Clinics are networked with 240 cancer hospitals and 115 cancer diagnostic centres, nationally. And of these 10-12 hospitals and 27 diagnostic centres are in Telangana.
Funding Support 
Cipher which was bootstrapped saw initial funding of Rs 1.75 crore through self, friends and family. The company has raised about Rs 1.5 crore through investors. And Rs 2-2.5 crores is being raised from angel investors and existing investors to fund the first unit and meet the working capital requirement for next two years.
The CEO & co-chairperson of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories G V Prasad has funded an undisclosed amount to the Cancer Clinics (picking equity stake) in his personal capacity.


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