“When we were in the US and had to visit doctors, we realised how streamlined the processes were: from searching for a doctor to booking an appointment, getting the medicine and tests, all of it was done online through connected systems,” says Shilpi Khemka, CEO and Co-founder of MedDNA.
They were moved to action, and they did, creating a similar ecosystem back home.
With an outlay of Rs 15 lakh, Shilpi, along with Abhishek Khemka and Ankit Vijayvargiya, launched MedDNA, a patient-focused independent medical platform, in January 2016. The amount was spent on platform building and human resources.
“The platform is built on four pillars — doctors, patients, pharmacies and laboratories. The patient is an essential part of the system, he/she initiates a request for an appointment, from then on, all pillars fall into place,” says Shilpi.
The process within
MedDNA is trying to connect its four pillars via mobile application and website. The first step involves appointment with the doctor. Upon patient’s visit, doctors provide prescriptions via MedDNA. This prescription is uploaded on cloud.
The platform will then send information to nearby pharmacies based on the patient’s preference. In case the doctor recommends tests, the request will be sent to the nearest lab. If everything goes as planned, MedDNA will launch these two solutions soon.
“Thus, MedDNA not only provides management of clinic, pharmacies and laboratories, but also connects these independent entities under one roof for the patient’s convenience,” says Shilpi.
A working business model
It is an SAAS-based product where doctors, pharmacies and labs need to subscribe to the platform. However, it is free for patients, except for the service of e-consulting.
“We launched our web application in the beginning of this year and since then we have more than 2,500 doctors listed from Pune and Mumbai, of which 200 are paid subscribers. We are expanding and signing up 10 doctors a day on an average. Apart from that, we are boosting our mobile platform as well, which is gaining traction,” says Shilpi.
With such level of functionality and services, the website claims to be competitive at pricing. MedDNA plans to reach out to Tier II and Tier III cities. Besides, it’s also planning home visit by doctors.
We shall overcome…
Implementing a million-dollar idea is a challenge for anyone.
According to Shilpi, in the real world, it is hard to convince a person to change their way of working, especially doctors. They are busy people, who have to focus on diagnosing diseases and providing healthcare advice to patients rather than giving precious time to technology.
“But we are trying to help them find a balance between the two,” she explains, adding: “One way of doing this is a smart prescription pad. It replicates the paper prescription, with the difference being that doctors write on it with our proprietary pen and save the text on computer, which then sends it over to the respective pharmacy or laboratory.”
In pharmacies, MedDNA is aiming to change the model of business operations and how medicines are sold with its direct-prescription-to-pharma step. This way the patient need not visit the pharmacy.
Shilpi sums up her endeavor: “What we are doing at MedDNA is to build a system which can easily be used by anyone and we have targeted various platform devices for this. It will also help increase the revenue for all participating entities by reducing overhead costs.”
According to a report released by India Brand Equity, the market size of the health sector in India was estimated to be $75 billion during 2012-13 and is projected to reach $280 billion by 2020.
Tencent-backed Practo is among the leading players in this space, having acquired multiple startups such as Fitho, Genii and Qikwell. Practo has also entered the online medicine ordering segment.
Accel-backed Portea and Tiger-backed Lybrate are other established players in this sector. In the past few years, the healthcare segment has witnessed the mushrooming of digital healthcare startups.
Besides patient-centric startups, some doctor-centric startups have also come up. Curofy and Buzz4Health, medical networking apps that power communication between doctors, are other solution providers in this area.
Pharm.D @ SRIPMS-CBE-TN