From our point of view, the value proposition works of bringing quality, convenience and access together, said CEO Prasad Kompalli.

App-based on-demand healthcare a behaviour change its happening mfine CEO to TNM(L-R): Prasad Kompalli, Ashutosh Lawania
Atom Interview Sunday, May 27, 2018 - 22:46

mfine is an app-based, on-demand healthcare service that provides its users access to online consultations and care programmes from the country’s top hospitals. The AI-driven digital health platform partners with leading and trusted hospitals instead of aggregating individual doctors. mfine users can consult doctors from their preferred hospitals via chat or video to get prescriptions and/or routine care. mfine was launched in December 2017 by Ashutosh Lawania and Prasad Kompalli. The founders were later joined by Ajit Narayanan, Arjun Chaudhary, and Dr. Jagadish Prasad, an interventional neuroradiologist, and founder of Femiint Health, a hospital in Bengaluru. 

On May 17, mfine announced that it had raised $4.2 million in Series A funding led by Prime Venture Partners. The company will use the fresh funds to build the hospital network across cities, and further strengthen the technology team. The company is planning to achieve over one lakh consultations by the end of 2018 and also partner with more than 50 top hospitals across the country.

Prasad Kompalli, who is the co-founder and CEO of the company, spoke to TNM about various aspects of the journey from how the idea came about, to scaling up operations and future plans. 

How the idea germinated 

The idea was to share something that we are excited about. Myself and Ashutosh, we both come from Myntra and we started this a year ago roughly. The service itself was launched in December 2017. We are technology people, both of us. So using tech to actually build something which is deeply impacting consumers was the idea. Healthcare is something we really liked and we saw that there is a lot of potential and not much was done in this area, particularly from the consumption side of it. 

So we studied the market. Around end of 2016, post resigning from Myntra, we started discussing. The idea was how to make healthcare more accessible for people. Using an app-based system, there are multiple benefits. One is the convenience. You don’t have to wait for 6, 7 hours or sometimes two days to reach a doctor and get a consultation. Here, you start the consultation, tell your symptoms and connect with the doctor that is available immediately. At the end of the consultation, the doctor gives a signed digital prescription. 

One important thing we bring is that even though it’s on-demand and instantly available, we are preserving the quality and the trust that is required in healthcare. We partner with hospitals and not individual doctors, to bring the quality aspect.

The AI system at the back-end

We have developed a system on the doctor’s side which is highly intelligent. The AI-based system can actually do differential diagnosis, based on the symptoms which the patients report. Based on your symptoms like diarrhoea, migraine, headache etc, we prepare a case sheet as well as a diagnosis sheet for the doctors. Their work gets reduced and the entire system assists them in a way that they are made efficient and effective. It’s an intelligent system which learns each time the same symptoms are reported and comes up with even more accurate suggestions.

The app works through chat, video and phone call. In case the doctor is not to able to diagnose properly through the app, then the doctor can request a physical visit.

Challenges going forward

While consumers are liking the app, it is still a behaviour change. When it comes to health, the first thing that comes to your mind is not to open an app although I think it is changing very rapidly. It is changing because the convenience and the access trumps everything else. Probably, not everybody is moving initially. The early adapters are those who are looking into Google when you fall sick. These are the ones who are moving first to the app. 

Coming to the challenges, we think we can overcome those over a period of time as the brand is building, the network is building, the reach is expanding and the product is spreading through word of mouth. Other than that, it’s more of a normal product building challenge that we need to build the right AI system.

Going forward, it’s a technology challenge so that we can go deeper into healthcare and solve problems. This will enable the doctors’ time to be utilised efficiently and we can get much better health outcomes for the patient. Having said that, it’s not an external challenge but more internal to the company. From an adoption and business model point of view, I don’t see a big challenge. 

Growth prospects

It’s a new wave of technology use. There are not many people in the same space using the same model. There are other apps which offer online consultation with doctors but from a hospital partnership perspective, nobody is doing this. 

We are getting new customers through B2C, marketing and word of mouth. We are discoverable on Playstore, iOS. So that’s where a lot of organic adoption is happening. 

We have 50 doctors on board covering nine different specialties ranging from GP, Paediatrics, Gynaecology, Dermatology, Orthopaedics, Nutrition to Cardiology. Most of the primary categories are already there but we may add a few more. 

The operational hours are 7am to 12pm as of now. But we will be making it 24x7 soon, at least for the primary care specialties like General Practitioner, Paediatrics. Eventually, we plan to add other languages also but not in the next one year or so. As the network of hospitals increases, we will support more languages.  

Expansion plans

From our point of view, the model works, the value proposition works of bringing quality, convenience and access together. We think in the next couple of years, it will scale massively. 

Right now, most of our consumers are coming from Bengaluru since we also do marketing here. We don’t do marketing anywhere else, at all other places it’s organic. Our providers in the form of hospitals and doctors, are also in Bengaluru. We plan to expand provider network across cities over the next 2-3 years. 

We will be targeting 4-5 cities this year, mostly the metros. Our business model is built around SEC A (high socio-economic class) customers, who are present in a lot of cities. So, we are going step by step. 

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