Satish Kannan in an interview with Suman Prasad spoke in length about the concept of DocsApp, the inspiration behind starting this venture, the challenges, on why using google for your health issues is a dangerous thing, on the initiative to provide free consultation to women and other interesting details.
Excerpts from the interview:
Working on a unique concept of ‘Connecting doctors with patients on the go’
For a population of 1.2 billion people, we have only 150,000 specialist doctors. 97% of these specialist doctors reside in urban areas, while 68.8% of the population reside in rural areas. This uneven distribution of doctors and the cost of infrastructure to scale up the existing health care scenario pose as a gargantuan problem in the country. There is a pressing need in the country and we are working towards fulfilling that need.
After Enba, my co-founder, and I quit our jobs we spent a lot of time talking to doctors, waiting at hospitals and clinics. That’s where we witnessed the problems that our fellow Indians were facing. Some people travel far and wide, sometimes over a 100 kilometers, spend hours standing in serpentine queues, just to show some reports.
We wanted to do our bit to help the country that gave us everything and made us who we are. We were determined to make a difference and so began our journey in making world-class health care affordable to the masses.
The concept of DocsApp
DocsApp is a mobile app that allows people to consult specialist doctors from anywhere at anytime. The app facilitates over 1600 consultations every day in 17+ specialties like Gynecology, Pediatrics etc.. DocsApp has crossed a million downloads on the PlayStore and has been declared as the medical app of the year, 2017, (emerging category) by Amazon in association with Facebook.
The concept is easy:
- Patient asks a question
- A specialist doctor is assigned to the patient
- The patient makes a payment and start consultation with the doctor, either through chat or through calls.
- At the end of the consultation, the doctor will send across a detailed diagnosis and an e-prescription (if needed).
The consultation is open for three days, in case the patient has follow-up questions. Users can even order medicines and book diagnostic tests using the app.
Convincing doctors to be part of DocsApp and other challenges
Convincing doctors was never difficult, I myself on boarded first few doctors on the app. We now have over 2200 specialists on the app.
However, convincing the users was slightly tougher. Apprehensions about online health care and chatting with doctors was a huge challenge. We had to create awareness about how 70% of primary health care issues can be solved without the physical presence of the patient and also instill trust in their minds by proving it to them that it is a real doctor that’s talking on the other end. It was a tough job, but we thoroughly enjoyed it and also learnt a lot from it. I strongly believe that the WhatsApp-like UI helped to make it easier for patients to talk to doctors.
Initially we understood that people were unsure if the person on the other end was a doctor. We solved this particular problem by creating a profile section for the doctors, patients can view the details of the doctor and also read previous reviews, by other users, before making the payment to consult the doctor. Also, everyone in our team works in customer support for one day each month to understand the process and figure out the problems that users face.
As they say, the proof is in the pudding; once users started using the app their apprehensions began to vanish. We’ll continue to deliver our promises as we scale up.
About the doctors on board with DocsApp
A lot of doctors on the app are MD specialists; and every doctor goes through a vigorous screening process before being on boarded to the app.
The app also displays a profile section for every doctor, where the doctor’s qualifications, medical registration id and other such key details are mentioned.
Thorough background checks are also conducted before a doctor starts to practice on the app.
Once the doctor begins to practice on the app, the consultations are verified anonymously by a panel of doctors who make sure that the clinical quality of the consultation is up to standard.
Google search for health issues – Good or Bad?
We’ve been campaigning saying “Google is not your doctor”. A lot of people don’t understand that it is very dangerous to depend on Google for their health concerns.
Unlike a real doctor, Google can’t see, feel or understand your problem. It can just provide you with a list of similar options to choose from and then you’ll have to take it from there. After Doctor starts to give consultations on app, the consultations are verified anonymously by other panel of doctors who make sure that the clinical quality of the consultation is up to standards.
Your health is the most important thing and one wrong medicine can make it all go downhill.
No matter how efficient Google is, it can never be a doctor. Don’t take risks when it comes to your health, better safe than sorry!
Payments on DocsApp
Users are charged a nominal fee for the consultations. The fees vary from 99 to 499. There are various methods like Netbanking, Debit and Credit Cards, Mobile Wallets etc. Alternatively people can pay for the consultations directly using their mobile balance.
Important features on DocsApp
The app connects patients to specialist doctors via chat or call in less than 30 minutes. The app also gives the users the added benefit of undergoing lab tests at home and purchasing medicines on the app in one go. Users are given the benefit of asking infinite follow-up questions over a period of 3 consecutive days, starting from the day of fresh consultation. Apart from mental and sexual diseases the app focuses on providing child health specialist consultations 24X7, especially in the nights when parents are concerned about their children’s illnesses. The app also give users the exclusive benefit of getting to read soft books about their health topic of concern – e.g: ECP, Menopause, pre-mature ejaculation, male and female sexual dysfunction, etc. for free.
We also create and promote public health awareness by running various health campaigns about ongoing epidemics and health issues focusing more on national health programs.
Initiative to provide free consultation for women
Yes that’s right. We started this initiative inspired by the Pradan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan;
This is a scheme introduced by the government of India through which they offer free consultations for all pregnant women on the 9th of every month.
Women put the needs of their family ahead of their own and often neglect their own health. We wanted to create awareness about women’s health issues and therefore decided to provide consultations to all women not just pregnant on the 9th of every month.
All consultations in women’s issues speciality are free on the app from 9 AM to 9 PM on the 9th of every month. All they have to do is share about this initiative with their friends to create awareness before their consultation starts; that is the only condition.
Doctors and patients registered on DocsApp
We have over 2200 doctors and over a million users on the app.
DocsApp is the only app in the country to have received 3 ISO certifications ISO 9001:2015, 27001:2013 and 10002:2014. The certificates were given based on the process and procedures practiced by DocsApp. All the treatments and the clinical quality are well monitored by a panel of senior doctors
We are a team of 75 members. We serve patients pan India as we do not have any geographical constraints. We also deliver medicines and offer home pickups for diagnostic tests from over 3600 pin codes.
Currently, the app facilitates over 50000 consultations per month, we plan on increasing the number by 10x in 2018.