Online doctor consultation platform DocsApp and digital consumer health platform MediBuddy announced their plans to merge on Thursday. Satish Kannan, CEO of the merged entity says this merger has created India's largest and most comprehensive digital healthcare platform. "This combined entity will offer a comprehensive platform to our customers that delivers on the promise of a digital healthcare future. As first-movers, we are confident that we will establish market leadership and fulfil our mission to provide quality healthcare to every Indian."
Together, the combined entity is servicing healthcare needs of over 3 crore Indians, with a partner network of over 90,000 doctors, 7,000 hospitals, 3,000 diagnostic centres and 2,500 pharmacies covering over 95 per cent of all pin codes in India.
Speaking at an online meeting, Kannan also announced a $20 million (Rs 150 Crore) Series B round of funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, Fusian Capital, Mitsui Sumitomo (MSIVC) and Beyond Next ventures. Existing investors including Milliways Ventures and Rebright Partners also participated in this round taking the total to Rs 150 crore. He says, the joint entity will utilise the funding to further strengthen its doctor base, patient reach, product and technology-related investments.
Responding to questions from BusinessToday.In, on the viability of the model in a post COVID world since the regulatory permissions for online consultations applicable now are still temporary and how prepared are they to a scenario where patients typically like to have a doctor examine them, Kannan said during the past two months, DocsApp has seen a 60 per cent growth in the demand for online consultations and expects the trend to continue because whenever a customer realises that there is a easier way to access a service, he or she , would continue to utilising that more. Giving an analogy from the cab-hailing service sector, he said, "There was a time you would go on the road and call for an auto or a taxi but today, it is more common to see people opt for an Ola or an Uber app instead."
He said transformations such as these usually take long, around 10 years or so, but COVID has, in a way, compressed this time, with more people getting to adopt to a new way of doing things. In the backdrop of this, he feels in the new normal that people will see post COVID, about 70 per cent of demand for consultations will still come through the online route.
He says today about 90 per cent of all the specialist doctors in the country are in the top 10 cities of the country, which also means people outside these cities, if they do not travel to these locations, have no access to them other than the online option. This, apparently, will help him too as he says, "50 per cent of our customers come from top cities and the remaining half from really small towns, which is one reason why you can talk to a doctor in 16 languages."
On the fears that doctors and sometimes patients have to deal with misuse of the data on these platforms to promote certain products or health services, Kannan assured there is no scope for this as they strongly believe in data privacy and follows all the rules and guidelines on data privacy. The business model, he said, is a straightforward one and that is of a platform that enables interactions for a healthcare service and the customer or a patient in this case, pays a platform fee.