Technology is driving the way healthcare services are being delivered in India.
According to a report by consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, India’s healthcare information technology market is expected to hit $1.45 billion in 2018, more than three times the $381.3 million reached in 2012.
Patient care experiences are top priority in the healthcare industry across the globe. In India, with technology and healthcare gradually merging, there is a huge opportunity for providers to improve the patient experience and operate more efficiently due to improved association and efficient information-sharing among providers.
By the use of technology, quality healthcare services can reach the most rural parts of India, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the population. Healthcare technology solutions will be able to modernise medical care, reduce costs, avoid redundant or duplicate tests /procedures and mechanise manual processes.
Technology-enabled healthcare solutions and disruptive technologies will show the way to improve patient care. Companies that focus on delivering the best services available by leveraging technology, data analytics, automation, and commercial models will bring change to India’s healthcare industry.
In an interview with Enterprise innovation, Prashant Tandon, Founder & CEO of 1mg, a mobile health application, discusses how healthcare in urban India is being improved with the help of mobile technology. Tandon’s startup provides a web portal, along with apps for Android and iOS for finding medicines.
1mg delivers medicines in areas such as Delhi/NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Agra, Indore and Bhopal. Users can shop and choose cheaper generics on the platform. The company also lets users book for diagnostic tests and appointments, and claims to have over 5.5 million downloads.
How did 1mg’s startup journey begin?
We believe that for healthcare to change, consumers need to be informed and aware. With that spirit, we launched HealthKartPlus as a consumer information app which was later rebranded as 1mg.
The app went completely viral and people embraced it and shared it with each other through WhatsApp messages. It started becoming popular and we just kept adding features, learning from what our customers said. The initiative grew so fast that we saw a great opportunity to create a fully independent business around it and spun it off as a new business, branded as “1mg”.
What is the platform all about?
1mg is an integrated health platform with 5.5 million downloads and has infrastructure that can work at scale. It intends to empower the consumer about their choices and bring more transparency in the system. In India, healthcare tends to be opaque and bureaucratic and there has not been much innovation on the consumer front for a long time. However, with the advent of mobile technologies and the internet, this is rapidly changing and the consumer is taking centrestage. The real change will come when a consumer becomes aware and starts demanding quality healthcare.
We want to make healthcare understandable, accessible, affordable and authentic for consumers. There is lot of information and data in healthcare which is difficult for consumers to understand. We use technology and professional expertise to make this information simple for consumption.
We believe an informed consumer can bring the change in healthcare. We are also a marketplace for pharmacy and diagnostic services. We connect consumers to licensed pharmacies and accredited diagnostic labs improving convenience and access. Patients can order medicines conveniently any time from their smartphone or computers. The platform is very convenient for sick or elderly patients who are not mobile or in any condition to visit a pharmacy to buy medicines.
With urbanization, lot of working professionals want to order medicines for their loved ones remotely using technology. We have also launched an online consultation and doctor discovery platform. We are a fully integrated health app, an app we hope everyone in the country should have on their mobiles soon.
What opportunities has technology thrown up in India’s healthcare sector?
Healthcare is one of the largest industries in India, yet suffers deep structural inefficiencies and opaqueness. The consumers (as against insurers and government) pay for almost 70-80% of the healthcare spend in India, yet are alienated by service providers who earn disproportionately high margins for commodity services. This has thrown up opportunities to make a disruptive business that meaningfully impacts both costs and quality of healthcare thus creating a bigger opportunity than verticals such as food, real estate, auto and accommodation.
The retail pharmacy market, according to estimates from AWACS PharmaTrac and IMS Health, is worth about US $13-15 billion. The diagnostic services market is estimated to be around US $ 5-6 billion.
What is the future looking like for your startup?
We are looking at expanding across three dimensions: We would like to invest in product experience and advanced analytics, expand our ePharmacy and eDiagnostics marketplaces nationwide. We are already operating in 13 cities and have plans to expand to 30 cities by end of next year. We are also developing new business lines in the digital health domain.