OoWomaniya - A Non-Judgmental Women's Health Platform

IJ Anita Tejwani
Published on: 19th April 2015
“I always wished to pursue something in life that addressed a valid “need” of people,” says Krutika Katrat, Co-Founder & COO, OoWomaniya.com – Women’s Health First.

With this urge and wish she joined a fellowship program at an entrepreneurship incubator in Ahmedabad called Venture Studio, where she picked up many mock ventures and learned venture design process. During then, she had an idea of paper-based diagnostics in her mind and that’s when she met Mr Sneh Bhavsar, who is currently the Co-Founder of OoWomaniya.

Coming together as Krutika from Biotechnology and Sneh with a background in IT, they thought of building a venture around healthcare IT. “On a day-to–day basis, we witness various gaps in our healthcare system. Since healthcare was a wide domain, we weren’t initially sure of what “pain point” to pick for our venture,” says Krutika.

They wanted to pick a niche and a problem that was needed to be addressed in the healthcare domain. After investing couple of months in field research, interviewing doctors, hospital coordinators and discussion with mentors they decided to pick the niche of preventive healthcare, awareness and guidance related to “Women’s health and wellness” as women’s bodies and their issues are unique and in India there are still various socio-cultural barriers, myths and taboos related to women’s reproductive health and overall wellness.
ooWomaniya Founders
“During this time my mother was diagnosed with 3rd stage Cervical Cancer. Despite being fairly resourceful, she ignored months of heavy bleeding and various other symptoms until one day, I had to push her to see a gynecologist without waiting any further,” she shares.   After rigorous medical treatments and therapies she did emerge victorious from her disease proving herself as a FIGHTER and a SURVIVOR. But this bitter incident, made Krutika realize: ‘would there be others just like her, living in denial? Living in reluctance to voice out their crucial yet personal problems?’

Ironically, life has funny and little harder ways to give us the life’s biggest motivations. For her, it was her mother’s struggle that gave her the biggest stimulus to go ahead with the venture. “The need which I had felt through the field research, workshops and interviews got further validated when I saw it happening to my own mother,” she says.

From starting with a research and collaborating with a trust run by veteran doctors who regularly visit around 400 villages across Gujarat with a telemedicine van and set up a primary health check-up facility to interviewing number of doctors from different domains of expertise, hospital coordinators to understanding the gaps and their perspectives regarding health and patient care were the steps taken by Krutika and Sneh to kick start their venture. “We conducted a workshop with 20 women from different walks of life to understand the 'pain point' in their lives and what came between them and their wellness. We had interns who would go out and talk to females of different age groups and backgrounds and collect their stories and experiences,” states Ms Katrat.  

Within 4 months of the inception of OoWomaniya, the third pillar, Mr Varun Varunesh joined and grew stronger with them. Varun, an IT professional who is skilled in machine learning and algorithm development is currently the tech lead of OoWomaniya, and is taking care of the web development, architecture and database part of the website - www.oowomaniya.com.

“Right now, we have a team of 15 experts from different domains of expertise like Gynecologists, Sexologists, Pediatricians, fitness experts, dietitians, homeopathy, physiotherapists, mental health professionals etc., from Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Trivandrum etc., who are helping us in building our platform and providing responses and consultation to our users who share their emotional, physical and intimate health concerns on our platform,” she narrates.

At OoWomaniya, they have an Expert Panel of 3 medical advisors, Dr. Nita Thakre (Gynecologist), Dr. Shefali Desai (Surgeon & Breast Care Consultant) and Dr. Nidhi Desai (Women’s health and fitness counselor) who are helping them in screening the medical content and data. OoWomaniya plans to enroll 500 Experts and Doctors on the platform in the next two years. Until now, in its very initial years, OoWomaniya has been fortunate to connect with and bring such experts under one platform, who are passionate and determined to persistently work in the field of women’s health care.

OoWomaniya, provides a safe and non-judgmental platform for its users by providing anonymity. The feature to be Anonymous empowers our users and makes them comfortable to share and post their issues, doubts and concerns related to their emotional, physical and intimate health and ask questions to the doctors and experts without revealing their identity. “Along with women, we even have male users on our platform who ask questions for the health concerns of their female peers – wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers etc. We have hundreds of users asking questions and thousands of visitors on our site who are consuming the content – articles, poems, stories etc. On OoWomaniya’s blog, we publish the articles and poems shared with us by our users, where they talk about their own experiences, opinions and views. This gives them a certain sense of self-expression & ‘venting’ out while other females do also relate to certain issues shared,” she says. This is how OoWomaniya has earned trust and credibility among its users.

The major challenge they face is to tackle the mindsets and perceptions regarding women’s bodies and healthcare, socio-culture barriers. Being aware that this will be a gradual process they aspire to create a dent in these mindsets by giving way to greater awareness and acceptance towards one’s bodies.

In future, OoWomaniya wishes to cater its services also via SMS subscriptions for those females who aren’t on internet. “Although, we are an online consultation & health platform and a business, we also conduct various offline events, focus group sessions and workshops addressing different issues related to women’s holistic wellness. Building a content repository of 65 health issues related to women’s health comprising of preventive care and awareness information in an easy task, and offering comprehensible communication, translating it in regional languages is our goal,” narrates Krutika.

The feeling that there is someone in quest of answers or a helping hand for a crucial, personal health issue and she being one of those building a service to cater that need, keeps her going.

On 7th December, 2014, OoWomaniya had organized a Breast Cancer Awareness Walk – ‘The Pink Parade’ in collaboration with a hospital and for this event, on a chilly Sunday Early morning around 450 women and men had turned up for the walk for supporting the cause. As it was their first walk event, they felt extremely happy and overwhelmed by the response and fervor from people for the cause.
“My parents’ personal journeys and their upbringing has a lot to do with the perspective and mindset I have developed as a girl and the values and rational practices in my family have given me the encouragement to voice against the irrational ones. My parents, team members and friends have been really supportive during hard times in my personal life and that did help me to strike out a balance at work,” expresses Krutika.

“Doctors connect to our organization through our personal contacts, referrals by our existing experts and we also have online enrollment available on our website through which doctors can connect to our organization,” she acknowledges. After a comprehensive check on doctor’s credentials, they are involved and enrolled by OoWomaniya and only then are given access to interact with users and respond to the queries. In next 3 years they plan to enroll more doctors, mental health professionals, health consultants likewise from across India.

“Wellness cards”- colorful, illustrative information leaflets with a simple comprehensible language for Breast Self Examination are prepared by OoWomaniya Team which plans to take ahead this with top 10 female health issues. “The Panel Experts are helping us in preparing this content database which is available in both online and offline mediums and can be further translated into various languages and customized as per user group/campaign needs,” she says.

 “In August 2014, I received an amazing opportunity to deliver a talk on our work at OoWomaniya, at TEDx IIM-Calcutta. With an audience of around 500 people, our work and concept was highly appreciated and I also received pretty good feedback and suggestions from the audience,” Krutika speaks with pride about the success of OoWomaniya.

At OoWomaniya, they believe in hiring a person and then providing him/her their respective work profile. A team that is on same page on its level of commitment, passion and dedication towards the venture can only thrive and survive in long run. “We entirely believe in the power and necessity of having the right team in place to achieve our organization’s objectives and goals,” Krutika confides.
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