Too lazy to drag yourself out for a medical appointment? Too impatient to stand in line for medical tests? Well, a group company of online insurance platform PolicyBazaar has a prescription for just that: DocPrime.
The website, which taps into the promise of emerging technologies, data, pathology labs, doctors and hospitals, aims to provide medical consultation at home through a call, for free. It also aims to pick up a patient sample at home for analysis by a pathology lab, after which the doctor will call up the patient again on the medical results. Last but not the least, the insurance shall pay through it all.
“We are planning to make use of technology to help bring down the cost of healthcare as well as make it easy for customers to get a consultation,” Ashish Gupta, chief executive of DocPrime, tells TechCircle.
Gupta believes there is a huge demand in the market today for online consultations regarding regular check-ups and sometimes repeat check-ups for disorders such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
In fact, a recent report by Ken Research says that the Indian telemedicine market is expected to grow to Rs 200 crore by 2020. Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care from a distance.
“People are busy these days and they don’t want to waste their time in queues for something that can be sorted in under 10 minutes. Sometimes, they even end up delaying the consultation for days or weeks,” said Gupta.
“Why would you want to wait in a queue if the doctor can just see your report and change your medicines or dosage. For that matter, why step out when you can get a consultation for a simple issue such as a fever or common cold,” he added.
In order to resolve these issues, DocPrime has come out with a new website (the app is being developed) where patients can get instant and free consultation over chat and phone from in-house medical experts.
But the website does more than just match a doctor with a patient. The Softbank Group Corp.-backed company is running an artificial intelligence (AI) engine that takes inputs from a user to match him/her with the right doctor.
The AI engine also suggests a prescription to the doctor. “The idea is to ensure the doctors have access to all patient information with the least effort so they can focus more on diagnosing the ailment and prescribing the treatment,” Gupta said, adding that the website also has the option of routing medical tests to a pathology lab.
Gupta is aiming for a more seamless experience.
“The pathology and radiology centres are sitting on valuable patient data that nobody is accessing fully. We want to curate that in order to provide much better service. And the hospitals will help us to provide better treatment,” the chief executive said.
DocPrime currently has 5,000 doctors in Delhi and has already partnered SRL Diagnostics, PathKind Labs, Thyrocare, Apollo Clinic and Metropolis. Gupta said that the talks with Dr Lal PathLabs were in final stages and added that the company was planning to increase the number of doctors throughout the country to around 70,000 in the next six months.
Once the company has enough patients’ data, it will offer customised in-patient and out-patient medical insurance, which, according to Gupta, will be cheaper than any in the market.
“Once people have such customised medical insurances, they will be more open to using better medical services, and then we can lead them to better hospitals for treatment,” Gupta explained.
“In fact, we can also help in driving more footfall and, in turn, revenue for hospitals,” he said.
However, he added that it was a challenge to sign on or form partnerships with bigger hospitals.
“Nobody wants to share patient data,” Gupta said.
Currently, DocPrime is trying to work out partnerships with big hospitals such as Max.
Gupta also said that his company was working on automating many parts of the website.
One such part is the section on healthcare tips. Gupta said that they are working on an AI engine that can consider the health history and food habits of a person to suggest a diet chart.
The chief executive also said that the company was working on voice recording and analysis in order to read patient-doctor transcripts for insights.
Besides that, the firm is working on a Hindi chat bot for its customers.
Others in the space
The online medical consultation space has a few players, one of them Doctor Insta. The healthcare startup, which offers app-based voice and video medical consultations, raised $500,000 (Rs 3.31 crore) in a pre-Series A round from angel investor Rishi Parti and US-based venture capital firm BrahmaX Ventures, VCCircle reported in December 2015.
In January 2017, VCCircle reported that digital healthcare platform Practo had raised $55 million in a Series D round led by existing investor China's Tencent.
Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs a doctor-appointment site and offers an ad platform to clinics, hospitals and diagnostic centres, also saw participation from three new investors—Russian venture capital firm Ru-Net, Japan's Recruit Holdings’ investment arm RSI Fund and US-based Thrive Capital.
Existing investors Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Capital G (Google Capital), Altimeter Capital and Sofina also participated in the round.