Healthcare has been, for a long time, the poster child for an area primed to be disrupted by technology. As the Internet became ubiquitous and smartphones came on the scene, it was thought it was but a matter of time when healthcare as we knew it, specifically delivery of healthcare, would fundamentally change.
But that has not happened.
If someone from 50 years ago woke up after a deep cryogenic sleep and entered today’s world, little would appear to be different. Patients still physically visit hospitals or call up to make appointments.
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A small number of people use smartphones to schedule appointments, but beyond that, everything is exactly the way it was before the digital revolution. Patients still wait patiently (pun intended!) in hospital corridors. Doctors, especially senior doctors and specialists, are swamped with patients. Hospitals are swankier, equipment newer, and X-rays results can be collected the same day, but beyond that, our visitor from 1970 would feel perfectly at home meeting her family doctor in much the same way.
Thus, with a healthy dose of scepticism about the unmet promise of technology in healthcare, we met Ashutosh Lawania and Prasad Kompalli, founders of AI focussed healthtech startup mfine, which has raised $4.2 Mn in a Series A funding round led by Prime Venture Partners. As cofounder and senior executive at Myntra, they weren’t new to the world of start-ups or to the challenges of building high functioning teams.
The success and failure of healthcare hinges on trust, explained Prasad. The trust between a patient and a doctor is extremely essential and yet very difficult to achieve. Healthcare is intensely personal and of critical importance. It is not a commodity.
Technology has made contacting a physician easier, but it hasn’t succeeded in cultivating trust. As a result, teleconsult is consigned to connecting with anonymous doctors. Patients, in turn, continue to rely on physical visits for everything critical and use teleconsult only for minor ailments.
mfine’s mission is to make trusted healthcare available — anytime, anywhere. It is as simple, and as hard as that.
Major hospitals, many of which are chains of hospitals, have state-of-the-art healthcare and top-notch doctors available within their centres. As a result, patients have developed trust on the hospitals. Prasad and Ashutosh wondered if they could leverage this trust, but make it a lot larger in scope and impact. And thus mfine was born.
mfine addresses this head-on by taking an innovative hospital-first approach. The startup has partnered with top hospital chains in the country to bring access to doctors and specialists from hospital brands that patients know and trust on their app.
With a few taps, the patient is connected to mfine’s care team, which collects all the relevant information and vitals from the patient. On short order, a senior doctor from a hospital chain, selected by the patient, is live with the patient on the mfine app.
After the consultation is complete, either via text or video, the patient has a digital prescription and is ready to go. mfine’s platform ensures that patients can reach the doctors on the network within just 60 secs and start the consultation.
What differentiates mfine from other teleconsult solutions is that it effectively expands the circle of trust from the hospital premises all the way to the patient’s home. And that, we believe, finally has the potential to deliver quality healthcare in a way not done before.
Imagine a working parent, coming home to find their young child running a fever. As any parent knows, the effort required to go a doctor at 7:00pm, after a full day of work, with a sick child, is herculean. Battling traffic, waiting and hoping to connect with the child’s trusted paediatrician can be a source of immense stress. With mfine, parents can accomplish all of that from the comfort of their home and have a high-quality consult with the same paediatrician. These are the real stories of mfine users.
That, in a nutshell, made us believe that what Prasad and Ashutosh are doing with mfine indeed has the potential, the bold promise to make healthcare delivery fundamentally faster, better, and universally more accessible. Many patients have already endorsed the solution and are using mfine to consult doctors remotely on everything from common ailments to serious illnesses.
Our visitor from 1970 may finally be amazed at the miracle of healthcare delivery!