After studying engineering, three friends (Shreyans Mehta, Nikhil Baheti and Saida Dhanawat) gave a new impetus to India’s weak healthcare system and the problems of patients from small towns and rural areas. As a result, he started a digital healthcare startup Medcords. This startup is contributing to the economy of the healthcare system in two ways. First, it is providing mobile counseling to patients from far-flung rural areas at a low cost through an extensive network of doctors. Second, local pharmacy is helping to make their business bigger by making it digital. With this, employment opportunities are also being created. Medcords, which started in 2017, has also raised a fund of $ 4 million in almost a year. The story behind starting Medcords, the challenges faced, successes and future plans on all the issues like Financial Express Digital CEO and Founder of the company Shreyans Mehta Negotiated in detail. Come, let us know why and how the engineer friends created Medcords.
Question: How did the idea of starting a healthcare startup come after being an engineer?
Answer: Yes, all three of us are engineering graduates, but I am from a family of doctors. Altogether there are 35 to 40 doctors in my family. Me and Nikhil are friends since childhood. I belonged to a family of doctors, while Nikhil’s house is connected to the largest hospital in the city. We used to see the suffering and discomfort of patients every day. Nikhil discussed these problems with his friend Saida. Our trio joined hands in 2016 and made medcards and made the idea move forward and continued in this journey. In May 2017, we started work from Rajasthan’s Kota.
To know more and more about the deficiencies of the health system, we traveled to more than 800 places in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. After this we moved forward. Today, we are working to create a digital network of specialist doctors and digitalize local pharmacy as well. We have two apps. The Age app is for the convenience of patients. At the same time, the Health Partner app is connecting medical stores to digital networks. So far, the Age app has reached more than 13 states and more than 30 lakh families. At the same time, we have added more than 25,000 medical stores in the health partner app and have created a digital network of more than 5,000 specialist doctors to provide better health facilities even at the end of India.
Question: What challenges did you face in starting MedCards. How did you mobilize investment in the beginning?
Answer: From my personal experience Medcords was born. In 2014 my father used to practice as a doctor. He told me that most of the patients who got treatment for his illness from him came from rural areas, who had to face a lot of difficulty in reaching them. In view of this, we started this startup. We started the digitization of the records of patients and we provided doctor tele-consultancy facilities in rural areas of the country. It takes minutes to digitize the local pharmacy. The main challenge before us was that patients in small cities did not have the facility of smartphones and good networks. Later, the number of people using smartphones increased and the network also got better. We launched the Age app for the web version application, so that if anyone has any problem in downloading the app, then they can use the web version of this services.
Question: How to raise funds for startups. What goals are you going to achieve in the next two-three years? This question is also important because your target is especially rural India?
Answer: Our startup has raised about $ 4 million from Waterbridge, InfoAge, Asstark, Rajasthan Venture Capital Fund. We are planning to start the next round of fund raising to reach more than 50 million people in the next three years and to start its operations. We want it to be India’s most trusted health care platform. In the last two years, we traveled more than 75 thousand km in the villages of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. We met more than 35,000 people and visited the Economic Village in these states. The biggest advantage of MedCoder is that the faster the services can reach patients in 40 minutes through age and health partner, the faster the services of any other company can reach the patients. This is what keeps us apart from others. We are adding 5,000 new people on our platform daily.
Question: You have made two models of MedCards. The first is for patients and the second is for medical stores. What facilities or services are available for both of them.
Answer: We have created age app for family health, doctors portal for doctors and ‘health partner’ app for medical stores, so that people will get the fastest, reliable health facilities that will be accessible to all patients. With the help of this app, people can get medicines by just one click. Local medical stores can get themselves registered and start sending online orders through the Health Partner app. He can help those people who do not have smartphones. They can make online booking of patients to consult doctors through telemedicine. With this, patients can consult doctors in telemedicine all over India. Health Saathi app has been connected to medical stores locally, so that they can grow their business through digital and people who have smartphones can take full advantage of local pharmacy from those services.
Question: How are consumers benefiting from the MedCards ‘Age’ app? How economical is it and what are the additional benefits?
Answer: We want to make India the most trusted health care platform. We have to digitize our health infrastructure. Age apps are available free for Android users. The fees for consulting doctors are very low as its initial fee for a week’s consultation ranges from Rs 99 to Rs 120. By giving advice to patients in the Age app, doctors can also make income based on demand and availability. Patients will be able to reach the doctor in just one click. MedCords has also launched an age card, in which there is a plan to give annual membership to patients sitting in remote areas at low fees. It digitizes online medical consultations and medical records for patients in villages and towns. Age app users also get the facility of health management, health insurance, related blogs and videos.
Question: How is the ‘Health Partner’ app of MedCards beneficial for medical stores operators. What is the process to join this app? What does the medical store operator have to spend on this or does it happen?
Answer: In the Health Partner app, pharmacies can register themselves and start their business online. It also employs delivery agents. This app can help medical store patients get better health care from their store through telemedicine. They earn 25 to 30 percent more in return because the startup has a model to share revenue with them. So far, 8,6,8000 people have downloaded the Health Partner app. The startup aims to meet the health needs of every citizen living in villages and towns.
Question: What is the business model of Medcords?
Answer: Medcords’ business model works as a startup. It focuses on patients who are able to pay a nominal amount in exchange for medical services. Healthcare or medical stores help patients to get better health facilities through telemedicine. Medical stores earn 25 to 30 percent more in this order because the startup has a revenue sharing model with them. We also generate revenue from age card membership and consultation fees.
Question: How much is the competition in the app based healthcare segment?
Answer: The Age and Health Companion app is also helping MedCorders deal with the Corona epidemic. The Rajasthan government has partnered exclusively with MedCord’s age and health partner Apps to facilitate doctors and patients and support over 68 million population. Apart from the successful Bhilwara model of the Rajasthan government, where MedCords prevented the corona from spreading, officials are also trying to help regular and chronic disease patients with the help of the Age app. Startup healthcare such as Farmco, Tatvana E-Clinic, Vondrax, Portia Medical, Librate, DocsApp and Medcords are meeting the shortfall in the sector.