myUpchar describes its mission to solve for healthcare awareness and access related issues in India. Moving beyond the metros, myUpchar explains us the challenges and opportunities in tier-II cities of the country and how the health-tech startups are addressing it.
DC: How is the health-tech market in India today and what does the future hold?
Mr Rajat: The health tech market in India has grown steadily for the past few years, attracting a slew of investors keen to make the most of its potential. Pegged to become a USD 372bn market by 2022 with an ROI which is upwards of 30 per cent; the interest is immense. What actually started with primary focus on the urban landscape; we are now seeing a greater penetration happening in segments that go beyond the Tier-2 markets. The sheer lack of expert healthcare professionals presents a huge opportunity for technology to improve efficient healthcare delivery with a focus on improving access to health care and critical care. That said, the opportunity in other areas including R&D biopharma, medical devices etc. will also continue to drive growth for the sector to improve access, affordability and quality of health care.
DC: What is the problem that myUpchar is trying to solve?
Mr Rajat: Our mission is to solve for healthcare awareness and access. Given our target demographics, it is a big challenge since most other players in the segment are focused on the urban landscape of the country.
We grew from 0 to 12million visitors a month from the time we started. We also get 6 million views on our Youtube channel every month. In terms of traffic, we are the largest health destination in India today. This feat has been accomplished due to our focus on serving users who speak Hindi and other Indian languages.
Around 8-9 months back, we realized that we are getting lots of consultation requests on our platform so, we started an online consulting platform. We have on-boarded over 50,000 doctors from various states, speaking various languages so that they can answer over 100,000 queries every month. While that was a pretty satisfying outcome for a consumer, what we realised is that in 20 per cent of the cases, you can’t really solve healthcare issues online.
To address this, we have partnered with doctors, labs and chemists in rural and semi-urban areas to serve our customers effectively. We are currently piloting this in Lucknow and its adjoining area as 12 per cent of its population visits myUpchar every month.
DC: What is the USP of myUpchar? Who are your competitors?
Mr Rajat: myUpchar's ability to create really high quality content as well as leverage product and technology to serve this consumer is our core strength. Our suite of products that includes scalable technology to server 12 million users every month, apps for user, doctor, chemist and phlebotomist help us serve the overall ecosystem. We have also invested heavily in voice search, machine learning algorithms to understand user queries and provide input to doctors, automatically detecting diseases based on blood image or chest x-ray etc. Also, development of newer interfaces including large-scale remote provision of health services is underway by myUpchar.
Across platforms, myUpchar serves 18m visitors/month, and haveover 50,000 doctors from various states, speaking various languages so that they can answer the queries from people coming from different geographies.
Also, our strength lies in the fact that our consumer is not really coming from the metro cities where most of the other competitors are focussed on. Our users come from semi-urban and rural areas who are also experiencing online for the first time.
Some of the competitors include Practo, 1mg.com, Netmeds and Lybrate. However, they all have a very separate business model and a different customer focus.
DC: What are some key initiatives undertaken by the company in the recent past?
Mr Rajat: We recently announced the launch of myUpchar Labs in Lucknow, the diagnostic arm of the company. This augments myUpchar’s portfolio of existing services that includes online and offline doctor consultation, doorstep delivery of medicines and expert healthcare information in Indian languages. myUpchar Labs service an area of 150 km around Lucknow.
DC: What is the kind of technology that myUpchar uses?
Mr Rajat: Our customer is a typical first time internet user and so, we are careful that everything we build increases accessibility of healthcare services. That started with investment in voice search and building voice + video content for easier consumption. In the online consultation product, we have built an intelligent assistant that asks users’ relevant questions and build a patient’s medical history so that doctors have to spend less time going back and forth with the customer. Based on the patient’s history, we send personalized content for assisting him/her with recovery.
Not only that, we are now leveraging machine learning to come up with tools that will parse images of blood and x-rays to suggest likelihood of diseases in their native language – this will allow patients to double check if the results have been accurately presented to them. This is unfortunately a big challenge in rural areas.
DC: What are your future plans?
Mr Rajat: We are focussed on scaling our operations as well as building technology solutions to continue serve our users better. Further, we are working on monetization of our customers by experimenting with various revenue models. Few of our upcoming activities are -
- Aiming to launch several collection centers in and around Lucknow for better healthcare service delivery.
- Improve people’s adherence to medicine while also trying to track and monitor patients’ behaviours to help them better, specifically in tier 2 cities.
- Introduce newer AI and ML enabled products to better help people in gaining access to healthcare.
- Revenue generation via medicine, lab and consultation services in rural areas.