November 02, 2015

Noora Health: Empowering Families as Caregivers

Have you ever been with a loved one who was sick at a hospital and had no idea what was going on? Have you ever felt helpless and wished you could do something to help your loved one recover as soon as possible? Noora Health, a social enterprise focused on providing caregiver empowerment and education, does just that.

The idea for Noora Health was born out of a design thinking class that its four founders took together at Stanford University where they observed that in hospitals in India, as in many around the world, family members of patients were often ill-informed and ill-equipped to help in their loved ones’ recovery process. The Noora Health team found that the family members were an untapped resource in the healthcare delivery process and designed a program that educates and engages family members in a way that has shown to have an impact on the health and well-being outcomes of patients. Noora contracts with hospitals in India to offer their training.  In one hospital, after training, 89% of family members feel more prepared and confident in their ability to care for loved ones. That same hospital saw a 24% reduction in readmissions for heart surgery patients. Noora has trained more than 25,000 caregivers since January of 2014 .  representing over 18,000 patients. 

 As an Innovations in Healthcare/SEAD intern, I spent this past summer in India working with Noora Health. The day that I arrived in Bangalore, India for my internship, I met the Noora Health team for lunch. After some initial introductions, Shahed Alam, Co-Founder of Noora, asked me “Do you want to go with me to Mangalore to meet with our new hospital partner?” Later that same night I was back on the road riding an overnight sleeper bus to Mangalore, a seaside town in the state of Karnataka.

 There we talked to the executives and senior doctors of a new hospital partner to ensure there was buy-in to the program at every level of operations. This is a time-consuming task for the Noora staff, but this investment of time upfront ensures that when the program launches, all the stakeholders in the hospital are invested in making the program succeed despite any challenges that might arise. For example, a common challenge Noora staff face when launching in a new hospital is the perception among nurses that the program will take more of their extremely scarce time. By involving nurses, nurse supervisors, and department heads in the planning of the program launch, Noora Health is able to show that over time the program will actually save nurses time. In fact, this is one of the main results that came out of a research study on their impact: Noora’s program has been shown to save each nurse roughly 10 minutes per patient per day. 

 My task for the summer was to help Noora Health conduct a customer landscape analysis by identifying future customers, gauging reactions to Noora’s value proposition, and determining willingness to pay for the service. I met with executives at mid- to large-size private hospitals throughout India and asked them about how they perceive and value the benefits that Noora Health provides patients and family members.

 A key takeaway from the customer landscape analysis is that the service Noora Health provides is not currently a significant focus in most major hospitals yet there is a high degree of interest in enhancing the customer/patient experience and improving health outcomes.

 Having studied human-centered design and the design thinking process over the course of my first year at business school, it was incredible to see the real fruits of that process through Noora Health’s work. It especially stood out to me when I visited one of Noora’s first hospital partners, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research. There I watched the family members of cardiac patients soak up a video with key health information and skills in the local language of Kannada. A nurse intermittently stopped the video to test that the audience understood and absorbed the information. It was clear this was information and knowledge they had never had access to before, and given that their loved ones were in critical conditions, you could see in their eyes how they were eagerly taking it all in.

I spoke briefly with one of the family members afterward who said that the training was very useful and that he didn’t know any of the information prior to the training. When asked if he felt better equipped to take care of his wife when she is discharged, he said, “It’s very helpful. I will take care of her. I want to watch it [the training video] more than once and buy a copy so I can show it to my family and I will show others.”

He thanked the Noora team several times for the training. Seeing the power of knowledge in action helped me understand the value and impact that Noora Health provides. I am thankful to have had the time and opportunity this summer to learn more about Noora Health and speak passionately about the organization’s work to potential customers as part of my summer internship.