Chandrasekhar K. | 3nethra
Chandrasekhar K. and 3nethra, his pathbreaking ophthalmology imaging device, are systematically and sustainably taking preventable blindness out of the blind spot of the healthcare community and society at large – thereby pre-empting a dark fate for a large section of the population.
Chandrasekhar K. is the Founder and CEO of Forus Health Pvt Ltd, a Bangalore based innovation-first social technology enterprise working on the mission of eradicating preventable blindness by creating innovative products and helping them getting implemented across the world. Prior to starting Forus Health, Chandrasekhar K. spent 20+ years in the Semiconductor industry working in technology, strategy, sales and business development.
Under Chandrasekhar K’s leadership, Forus Health has developed a ‘first of its kind’ ophthalmology imaging devices called 3nethra range of products for adult retinal & anterior segment imaging, neonatal retinal imaging and refraction. 3nethra suite of products are portable, Intelligent, non-invasive and non-mydriatic eye imaging system that has the ability to detect some of the common eye problems like – cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retina and retinopathy of prematurity, along with providing refractive error measurements.
The overarching idea behind Chandrasekhar K’s initiative goes well beyond preventing blindness, of course. The man passionately believes that healthcare is a basic right that cuts across social rank, and is convinced that with the right plan and action, the nation can take significant strides towards achieving that goal. "At Forus Health, we believe that by democratizing healthcare, we can play an active role in the addressing Global healthcare issues”, says the inveterate idea leader. Here is his story.
Worry news: Eye diseases like cataract, trachoma and diabetic retinopathy can if left unaddressed, lead to permanent blindness. Good news: They don’t have to. That’s right. All the aforementioned ailments are either treatable or preventable, making blindness more of a sad consequence of lack of awareness or callous negligence or, in cases, both. Armed with a long-sighted vision, ahead-of-the-curve technology and a ticking social heart and a clear vision, Chandrasekhar K. and his team at Forus Health Pvt Ltd aim to change that by reimagining the best way to solve the challenge: Prevention.
“The ray of hope is that an astonishing 80 percent of blindness can be prevented or cured. This is what is known as ‘avoidable blindness’. The reason people live with blindness is that they can't access quality eye health care. At Forus, we intend to skew this tide”, states Chandrasekhar K. with the kind of matter-of-fact confidence that comes from knowing exactly what he is doing. Even if he achieves a fraction of his goal (there are several odds along the way), Chandrasekhar K. will be the recipient of the most coveted award ever: The blessings of an entire nation where ailments of the eye are common – and especially lacs of senior citizens who are – for reasons as diverse as lack of support, awareness, mobility or finance - often left facing a dark future, quite literally.
Herein lies the big opportunity – and disruption - that Chandrasekhar K. and his talented team are orchestrating. 3nethra, their brainchild and flagship suite of products, is slowly but surely making preventable blindness a service that can now reach the grassroots across the length and breadth of the nation. There are several pillars to the idea/concept that make it unique, and quite the ‘saviour of the hour’.
For one, the product lives in the intersection of cutting edge technologies and emerging, future-ready trends (such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), Big Data Analytics and others) which makes it highly accurate and therefore trusted by doctors. Secondly, easy portability and quick intervention window (a few minutes is all it takes) is helping it ‘Address-Larger-Market’ with relative ease, broadening application base nimbly. Finally, deployment at user-level doesn’t require advanced technical skills, allowing for hyper-local adoption by any community member at city, town and village level.
“To make a true dent in the status-quo, a winning product must carry three vital qualities: A deep understanding of the problem or pain-point, an intuitive sense of technology and a heart that can go beyond just profits to accommodate the needs of accessibility and affordability”, says Chandrasekhar K.
Teamwork makes the dream work. In the case of Chandrasekhar K., that team is an extended one, growing across mindset barriers and geographic boundaries, with new ‘believers’ and ‘brand champions’ being added everyday. “I feel deeply grateful to doctors, technicians and other members and stakeholders of the ecosystem who have taken to the idea with an open mind and, satisfied with the quality and potential, have embraced 3nethra warmly and enthusiastically. Their ‘natural word-of-mouth endorsements’ has been our most potent marketing strategy so far”, says Chandrasekhar K., lending a peek into the ‘human chain mechanism’ that has taken 3nethra to distant shores. At last count, he leads a diverse portfolio of over 5 Products across 40 countries and 2700+ installations, and has touched more than 7 million lives.
Success comes to those who believe. Chandrasekhar K’s and 3nethra’s success saga has found resonance with ‘seasoned backers’, and Forus Health is already funded by marquee investors like Accel Partners, IDG Ventures, Asian Health Fund and Team Fund. Pats on the back have flowed in freely, too. The organization has won several awards and accolades so far, and from various forums and platforms. Some notable recognitions bestowed upon 3nethra include Piramal Prize winner 2010 of technologies that democratize Healthcare, Top Innovation in DST-Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Program 2011, Sankalp 2011 Technology for Development Winner 2011, Samsung Innovation Quotient Winner 2011, NASSCOM emerge “League of 10” for year 2011, OEM –Enterprise organization in Start-up category by India Semiconductor Association, Joint Winner of ILC-Is Anjani Mashelkar Inclusive Innovation Award for 2011, MIT’s Technology Review India's Grand Challenges 2011 (TRGC) awardee, CNBC-TV18 & Mercedez-Benz Young Turks Awards – Change Maker of the year – Health, Frost & Sullivan Award 2012 – Best Innovation in Ophthalmology, Economic Times Startup of Year - Social Enterprise in 2015, Health Laureates at the Tech Museum San Jose in 2017 (one amongst five winners) and the Marico Innovation Award (2018).
By his own admission, Chandrasekhar K’s arena is democratizing the healing touch of technology to as many as possible. This makes 3nethra merely the beginning of a journey that ought to see him climb several peaks. So what lies ahead? The man shares, “The next big transformation is to build Forus Health into a Digital Platform company and use AI to reach millions of people globally and be a big player in Public Health.” As long as there is space in his plans for the common man, as there is today, Chandrasekhar K’s endeavours will keep on winning. Both hearts, and markets.
*This story is published by VOH Team*
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