India rolled out its ambitious Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission healthcare program last month, the mission aims to provide an efficient and affordable digital ecosystem where patients can access quality healthcare. As part of the mission, each Indian will be provided with a unique 14-digit health identification number which will be generated through Aadhaar or via a mobile phone number.
Key features of the program will include a health ID card and mobile app, as well as an account to access personal health records. The account will be a repository of registers for all professionals and health establishments.
This means patients can connect with doctors, hospitals, labs, and pharmacies for appointments and teleconsultations, as well as place drug orders and reserve ambulances. However, there are concerns about data storage as Ayushman Bharat will not store the data, the data will be stored with the healthcare providers in accordance with their own policies.
For the past two years, Indian healthcare tech startups have used technology to bridge the gap in access to healthcare. How can these health tech startups partner with government to deliver quality health care to underserved people? To discuss it further, CNBC-TV18 spoke with the CEO of Rajat Garg, myUpchar and Ajit Narayanan CTO and founding member MFine.
Narayanan said that MFine is an on-demand healthcare platform and initially focused on solving the problem of access to quality healthcare for all of India. He said the company offers solutions, such as teleconsultations, for consumers to book lab tests online and order drugs and the entire healthcare spectrum is what we cover.
“We have always believed that India can only solve its problem of lack of access to quality health care through digital media, and that is why we launched telemedicine as the first solution. , 18 months has been extremely exciting, we have seen quite a bit of growth, almost 5-7 times more growth during the COVID period. This was largely driven by necessity, but the point is also that people have now become accustomed to the fact that the same quality health care can also be accessed digitally. Imagine someone in remote parts of the country is able to access the best specialists in the country. Previously, although there had been a small portion of people using it, it became mainstream, pretty much after COVID hit us. And that momentum fortunately for India, and for the people in general, continues, “a- he said, adding that they were extremely Still optimistic about how things have gone so far and that with Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission things will only get better from here on out.
MFine last fundraised in September 2021 and raised around $ 48 million in a Series C with the goal of building India’s largest virtual hospital. So when we asked him what was the real ambition? Narayanan said, “Think of it like this: a hospital today is a one-stop-shop for you to access all points of contact in healthcare. So you go into a hospital, you have your baseline vital signs measured at a post you go to a doctor for any acute or chronic condition The doctor can give you a plan of care based on your condition, he may ask you get a diagnostic test or prescribe medication, after which you may go to a pharmacy or have your test done at the diagnostic center and if the condition is severe you may need to have surgery or surgery and things like that. So that’s what a hospital offers today as a one-stop shop. “
“Imagine if you are able to virtualize all of these touchpoints except surgery, because it cannot be done virtually. But everything else, if it’s accessible virtually for much of India, it’s possible and that’s what we mean by a virtual hospital. So everything from measuring your vital signs, using your mobile, to seeing a doctor on the mobile, to getting digital prescriptions on the mobile and from there to having your medication delivered. drugs at home or getting diagnoses, organized tests, a visit to a radiology lab, all of this can now be done virtually, and this is what we call the virtual hospital, ”he said. .
“Our belief is that these healthcare contact points are virtually accessible and our ambition is to become India’s largest virtual hospital in the near future,” said Narayanan.
Garg said, basically, that MyUpchar’s mission is to address health, awareness and access issues in part to Bharat. For this, we create very high quality health content in six Indian languages, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and English. This generates a lot of traffic to our properties, website, YouTube channel, etc. We actually had the best month last month, with around 65 million visitors to our platforms. This leads to many consultation requests, over 150 consultations have taken place in the last month and we have done a lot of work to try to improve the consultation experience, Garg added.
“We have been facing challenges with our particular audience who are not comfortable with video, who don’t have a good bandwidth connection, who don’t have doctors available there. So we have different kinds of challenges compared to what other platforms generally need to focus on at the I Audience level. “
“We’ve built a product where you can connect with doctors instantly like you can see doctors live, you can click the call button right next to them and connect with them and talk to them instantly. It is literally a dialer to connect to your doctors. Second, we do daily live broadcasts with our doctors, so we get like your 10 of 1,000 users who come every day to listen to the doctors and ask the doctor 100 or so questions. But it is very useful as you are able to solve many questions from those users who are in remote areas consuming content remotely and can get good advice from leading doctor in India. We have focused more on content and consultations, as we believe that is where the main challenges are in India. “
For the full discussion, watch the video