Despite the Covid-19 crisis highlighting the gaps in the healthtech ecosystem, industry experts have agreed that the pandemic has brought a lot of attention to healthtech and its value proposition. Even the government has repeatedly emphasised on the need for technology solutions in the healthtech space to solve for the crisis with a focus on telemedicine.
While telemedicine has always been a significant segment within healthtech, the pandemic has forced the government to clarify the guidelines for telemedicine and remote consultations. This is seen as a major boost for the industry and to capitalise on the fresh guidelines, Noida-headquartered Remedo has secured an undisclosed amount of Pre-Series A funding led by RiverRock Ventures with participation from AngelList India (through their own fund – TheCollective), IPV, and Smile group.
Talking to Inc42, Remedo cofounder and CEO Dr Ruchir Mehra said that the funding round also saw investments from IIIT H Alumni syndicate, angel investors and CXOs with deep healthcare experience (large PE funds, hospital chains, insurance companies) and doctors.
Founded in 2017 by Mehra, Harsh Bansal, and Richeek Arya, Remedo is a telemedicine startup focused on providing doctors with a platform to connect with their existing patients and follow up regularly.
Mehra elaborated on the B2B approach for its service, where doctors onboard patients to its Care platform to stay in touch and guide the patients. The company wants to establish itself as an integrated healthcare facilitator and caregiver that uses various touchpoints between doctor and patient effectively to manage chronic conditions and result in better health outcomes.
Existing players such as Practo, mfine along with new entrants like Curefit’s care.fit have been vying for a piece of the telemedicine pie.
The model usually followed by larger giants is to utilise offline agents or feet on the street to sign up doctors. But Remedo follows a different approach — by going through pharmaceutical sales representatives who help bring doctors from their network onboard. The company already has four pharma partners, and sales reps help create brand loyalty too. Unlike other players, Remedo is not looking to acquire both patients and doctors and act as a marketplace or matchmaking platform but rather wants to be an intermediary for doctors and their existing patients.
The challenge, according to Mehra, is that doctors may not be able to get back to patients every time they need a follow-up, due to limitations of being offline or WhatsApp messages or calls not being answered. This was further exacerbated because of lack of regulatory clarity. However, with the recent telemedicine guidelines, the doctors have the chance to increase patient adoption rate for such services.
Mehra says that the company has over 2000 doctors, a result of 5x growth during the past month of Covid-19 spread. Remedo started out with a focus on solving for doctors, mostly by digitising health records. But Mehra says the existing challenge of post-consult care was a bigger problem to solve.
Telemedicine Boom Imminent
Telemedicine will reduce the time of consultations and improve the quality of healthcare services in rural areas, removing many of infrastructural challenges. According to DataLabs by Inc42, the telemedicine market in India is expected to reach $5.4 Bn by 2025 with a CAGR of 31%.
Looking at the severity of the situation during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian government had launched guidelines for telemedicine solutions on March 25, 2020. Previously, telemedicine operations were governed by several statutory guidelines in India. The new telemedicine guidelines for India provide a more comprehensive framework for applications, mode of communication, medical ethics, data privacy and confidentiality, document requirements, fees, process, drug list, technological platforms and more. The regulatory framework will also attract more investors to the telemedicine segment as businesses will have clarity for business models.
India is one of the top 10 countries in the telemedicine market in the world. The early adoption of a regulatory framework will help the segment grow rapidly. Mehra notes that while doctors haven’t embraced technology en masse in the past from the point of view of telemedicine, but Covid-19 has changed that.
Pharma reps regularly interact with doctors and leveraging this network helps Remedo compete on cost of acquisition besides its proprietary telemedicine platform. For monetisation, the company charges a fee on top of doctor’s consultation charges from patients on the Remedo care platform, who are brought on board by doctors.
“The model is to get doctors via pharma companies, who will give patients Remedo care plan, brief the patient, which helps the doctor run practice better and at the same time for patients, get everything in one— your own doctor, everything about your own condition,” Mehra explains to us.
The company began with a focus on women’s health primarily gynaecologists and has now moved towards chronic conditions including diabetes and cardiology on the platform. The benefits of using Remedo, according to Mehra, is that doctors’ can see improved patient compliance on advice, brings them for follow-ups to the doctor as well.
“As a result, we do a lot of patient education for the patient’s condition, who can make educated decisions and judgments about what they want to do going forward,” he said.
Tie-Ups For Additional Home Services
By using Remedo, the company claims that doctors see a 17% increase in follow up visits and 80% reorder rate for medicines in 4-5 months. The company also claims to have “achieved more than larger players with much lower burn/investment in terms of scale as well as product.”
Mehra told us that to provide additional services, the company has several tie-ups. For instance, for online guidance like dietician or lactation expert for ObGyn patients, the company has direct tie-ups. But for offline services like medicine delivery or home-based tests, the company has tied up with third-party providers.
With the fresh capital, the company wants to own the chain of service delivery rather than relying on third-party tie-ups. It is also looking at international geographies where markets are similar to India for expansion. Mehra said this includes the South Asian market — Sri Lanka, the Philippines — as well as parts of South Africa.
Anika Parashar, CEO, RiverRock Ventures said, “In a world post lockdown, with confidence levels low, anxiety levels high and healthcare needs persisting, Remedo intends to solve for reducing patient touchpoints bringing information, appointments and services within easy access to patients in one place.”
Talking about the post-Covid-19 world, Remedo cofounder Mehra says he believes that people can follow a hybrid approach going forward, where consultation can be done offline and follow up can be done on calls or through online platforms at least for the foreseeable future.