Published: 21st May 2018
What is the latest addition to the digital world? - Health clinics
Shashank Singhal’s MedTel is linking pharmacies and diagnostic centres with specialists and turning them into affordable telemedicine hubs
MedTel, 28-year-old biomedical engineer Shashank Singhal’s start-up, is not only changing the conventional way medicine is practiced, but is also bridging the rural-urban healthcare divide. Powered by cloud-based integrated point of care diagnostics, the platform provides specialist teleconsultation, diagnostic and drugs at one place in an aggregated model — through digital health clinics (Telehealth Pod).
The platform has so far aggregated 850 pharmacies and diagnostic centres and set them up as digital health clinics. They also have more than 400 registered specialist and super specialist doctors in over 25 branches of medicine — such as paediatrics, psychology, cardiology, neurology, oncology, diabetology, dermatology, gynaecology, sexology, psychiatry, neurology, gastroenterology, general medicine, ayurveda and homeopathy. “In a digital health clinic, one can get a diagnostic test done on the spot for digitised blood sugar, blood pressure, ECG, spirometry, routine urine, HbA1c, haemoglobin, lipid profile and so on through our ‘lab in box’ devices,” explains Shashank.
Chosen one: The founder of MedTel, Shashank Singhal
Singhal says that, in India, people without formal medical training treat up to two-third of primary care patients and those seriously ill visit the hospital after going through a round of treatment by quacks. As per a WHO report, in rural India 31.4 per cent of self-proclaimed allopathic doctors were educated only up to class XII and 57.3 per cent doctors did not have formal medical training. “MedTel was something we thought of in 2013 when my co-founder Dr Lalit Ranjan Manik and I were studying at the University of Dundee, UK. We came back to India and started our research to find the real problems. In the meantime, we were working in the health sector to understand it better,” says Shashank, who is an IIT-Roorkee alumnus.
Later, they came up with a solution to digitise different healthcare stakeholders starting from primary care to tertiary care. Odisha became the focus area due to its poor healthcare infrastructure. They started their journey in the KIIT-Technology Business Incubator in Odisha with a seed fund of $50,000 from their founding team members and a few doctors who were seed investors. Apart from Shashank and Dr Lalit, MedTel comprises of a team of doctors and engineers including Ajit Choudhury, Dr Devendra Tiwari and Dr Yera Dhanurdhar.
We aim to build the largest digital distribution channel for healthcare products and services. MedTel digitisation for retail pharmacies and diagnostics will soon become the one-stop solution for doctors, diagnostics and drugs
Shashank Singhal, founder, MedTel
The average MedTel telconsultation costs anywhere between Rs 90 to Rs 400 as doctors’ fees, Rs 300 to Rs 400 for medication and Rs 200 to Rs 300 for diagnostics. Currently, MedTel facilitates more than 6,000 tele consultations every month. “We are targetting 120,000 patients per month by the end of this year,” Shashank says.
The initial journey, though, was a difficult one. “Digital healthcare service is a relatively new concept and hence, the initial acceptance for our services was poor. Later, we used various technology tools where we could engage all the stakeholders and helped them get ready to provide services,” he adds. While the group is currently working in Odisha, they have also started offering similar healthcare services in the States of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. Over 200 Odia speaking doctors are actively engaged with MedTel’s digital health platform.
Five Point Someone
It addresses bottlenecks in the healthcare system using digitisation
It brings urban healthcare services to rural areas
It works on B2B ownership model
MedTel helps patients consult with doctors based on their demand
MedTel is opening digital health clinics in petrol pumps
“At MedTel, funded by DFID-UK, we aim to build the largest digital distribution channel for various healthcare products and services. The Indian pharmaceutical sector is estimated to account for 3.1 to 3.6 per cent of the global pharmaceutical industry in terms of value and 10 per cent in terms of volume. It is expected to grow to $100 billion by 2025. MedTel will soon become the one-stop solution for doctors, diagnostics and drugs,” he says.
For more, click on medtel.in