Dr. Ruchir Mehra(Co-founder & CEO, Remedo) in conversation with BW Healthcare World
25 crore people in India have one chronic condition. Three of five deaths happen due to non-communicable diseases.
1. Remedo is a telemedicine startup with a primary focus on patient care. How did the idea of starting this germinate in your mind?
Ans. Remedo’s journey began in the year 2017 when the co-founders, Dr. Ruchir Mehra, Harsh V Bansal, and Richeek Arya, came together to build a Digital Healthcare startup with a primary focus on patient care. Remedo started as a digital engagement platform to help doctors effectively manage their patients with chronic diseases, providing end-to-end complete care plancustomized to the needs of the patients.
25 crore people in India have one chronic condition. Three of five deaths happen due to non-communicable diseases. Remedo improves health outcomes and experience of patients who have these conditions. Remedo aims to transfrom the health of millions of people by improving the quality of care through technology. Today everyone has a supercomputer in their pocket with high speed internet - this opens up multiple possibilities to deliver superior care. Remedo is augmenting the capacity of the health system - a much needed endeavor in our country. Started by a group of doctors and engineers in 2017 Remedo is connecting healthcare through digital medium
2. Remedo started as a digital engagement platform to help doctors effectively manage their patients with chronic diseases, providing end-to-end care in their recovery process. What is your plan for the future in terms of growth and expansion plans?
Ans. Remedo aims to transform the health of millions of people by improving the quality of care through technology. Our focus being Chronic health conditions, that affects around 25 crore of the Indian population today, we plan to go deeper in chronic condition management. We are planning on using AI & IoT to manage patient conditions to achieve measurable improved health outcomes. Aim is to augment the efforts of the healthcare providers through 'Digitization' of treatment provided to the patient and to make it a 'Complete solution' for managing patient's health. It would require a Hybrid kind of approach where both physical + digital platform could be used to deliver superior treatment which would be at much Lower cost to patients.
We are already present across India, from NE states to West till Rajasthan & from Srinagar in North till Kanyakumari in South. We plan to increase our impact further, in locations where we are already present. There is definitely a steep learning curve both for the Doctors & patients (specially in India with a rural population of 65.97)and we believe when the results and efficiency would start outweighing the time investment, the adoption rates will start increasing exponentially.
3. How has Covid-19 outbreak changed the med-tech industry?
Ans. The current pandemic situation has acted as a catalyst in changing the dynamics of medtech industry. There is a sudden demand for diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment, ventilators, and several other critical medical supplies across the world. And the same demand has led to new discoveries where manufacturing units are producing reusable and recyclable medical kits. There has also been a definite surge in the demand for increasing the reach of the healthcare through digital medium. The reliability on this industry is so that the medtech leaders are looking beyond their limitations to explore new solutions and further their production capacity. All of this has put India in the forefront of the medtech revolution amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
4. Telemedicine has become crucial amidst the ongoing crisis caused by COVID-19. How are you dealing with it?
Ans, There is a sudden surge in teleconsultations and e-prescriptions as people become choose to self-distance themselves from the public. The fact that telemedicine has been quick in responding to the ongoing crisis is reason enough why the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW), along with NITI Aayog and Board of Governors (BoG) Medical Council of India (MCI) have issued the guidelines for this industry.
For Remedo, the teleconsultations have been growing week-on-week. Also, there is an increased number of doctors coming on board with us. The new guidelines have brought authenticity and confidence among our doctors who are now open to the platform and its several benefits. On the other hand, our patients are choosing to interact with our health assistant for their queries regarding fever, cough, cold, sore throat and body ache rather than paying a visit to their nearby clinics. The current demand and supply for telemedicine has made healthcare affordable and accessible; and reduced the burden of emergency visits to the hospital.
5. In your mind what is the future of health-tech industry?
Ans, The coronavirus outbreak has been instrumental in carving a path for healthtech industry. It has put emphasis on accessible, effective, and cost-efficient healthcare facilities. Startups and established organizations are incorporating new ways to integrate healthcare and technology in the times when people are self-distancing to avoid the spread of virus. But, above all it has given us a lot to prepare for the future epidemics. Going forward, the new normal for the industry will include medical equipment like testing kits; personal protection equipment like masks; and lifesaving medical equipment like ventilators regularly. So, by initiating a culture of local manufacturing and export substitution will help the economy as well as bridge the supply-demand gap.
Similarly, investments in wearable devices and AI’s role in the healthcare industry will lead to more at-home diagnostic devices, combined with home servicing of lab tests which will help patients track their conditions, share it with their doctors remotely and get consultation. Even contact tracing, which helps in surveillance and study of the distribution and patterns of diseases in a confined area, will become an of interest & investments for the government.
6. Digital care to patients is the need of the hour, how do you all ensure that?
Ans, Like other industries, healthcare sector’s reliance on the digital solutions is now more than ever. In the time of high demand, technology seems to be the answer for all the sector and to ensure that, Remedo is doing every bit it can. Our digital business model helps doctors through practice management and patients through patient communication & engagement. Our patients have access to digital records, prescriptions and lab reports. They can communicate with our smart health assistant which offers an array of features including timely reminders for medicine refills, FAQs, educational videos, diet and lifestyle tips. They can even schedule their tests and doctor’s visits online through the Remedo App.
7. Social distancing and remote consultations are now the future of the health tech system. Please explain? What is the industry market size?
Ans, Healthcare system has been changing rapidly worldwide and is undergoing a massive change with respect to the way doctors are connecting with their patients . Telemedicine bridges the gap between doctor and patient and helps them maintain a sustainable relationship especially during pandemic 2020. We have witnessed a substantial growth in telehealth and the overall market growth of telemedicine in India is supposed to reach 5.4 billion dollars in next five years with a CAGR of 31 percent. The market size for patient engagement & digital therapy in particular will cross more than a billion dollar in the next 2-3 years.
8. What were the challenges faced while setting up the business?
Ans, The main challenge faced was due to the existing mindset of both the healthcare providers and patients towards the adoption of technology in the healthcare space. For example even though Telemedicine was introduced in India more than 10 years back its acceptance was very low due to which it didn't see the Glory it was due for. Even now the acceptance of technology in Healthcare practice is quite low. However, recently with the Pandemic situation, we are seeing positive changes in the behavior, especially amongst the healthcare providers. There has been substantially higher acceptance of using technology to provide services to the patients. However, there is a need to generate more awareness amongst the patients for adopting the technology for their benefits. In this new world of post Corona, there are lots more to offer through technology and to be able to use it for the best for both the patients and healthcare providers. Another key challenge was in terms of getting the right kind of business model because in a country like India, where we do not have a concrete health insurance system there is always a challenge to decide who would be paying for the services. The pricing model specially during covid had to be restructured. Remedo’s charges are as minimal as 5 percent enabling it to be accessible to patients all across India with different paying capacity .Remedo is an app found by Doctors for Doctors . The crux of Remedo business model has been to create synergy between doctors and patients and not just be a simple 'doctor discovery' platform which was more popular amongst doctors specially before pandemic 2020. Creating a business model to show the real value of our platform has been one of the other challenges faced by us
9. Technology has revamped the healthcare industry. What are your thoughts on this?
Ans. Still a long way to go . But we are seeing increased acceptance due to the current covid situation. In the new hybrid world this will remain the case for sometime. As mentioned earlier the acceptance amongst the patients have been quite varied. While a large section of population in metro cities is welcoming telehealth and benefiting from it there has been quite a bit of resistance to this new way of practice in tier 2 cities. As more people would be accepting the new Hybrid model, investment will flow towards digital solutions to augment treatment. Doctors have started taking help of technology and finding solutions to manage their patients' data, history,appointments etc. and it has started showing considerable results so far.
10. What is D.I.S.H.A.?
Ans. The mobile application version of Remedo is a one-stop-solution that benefits both the doctors and patients who are connected via the platform. It runs on D.I.S.H.A (Digital Integrated Smart Health Assistant) which is a smart health assistant that connects doctors with their patients via customized plans. The application features consultation and follow-up reminders; diet, exercise, health & lifestyle tips; medical records and reminders; and daily educational videos and images, making a suitable digital companion for the patient.
11. Along with Harsh Bansal and Richeek Arya, the other co-founders, you invested in technology that could change the face of healthcare. Your trio has been working on improving patient care and doctor’s private practice for three years now. What are the results you all have achieved in these 3 years?
Ans. In three years of its inception, Remedo has already helped more than 1 lac patients by connecting expert doctors with chronically ill patients, even in remotely connected areas of the country.
Remedo has partnered with the leading pharma companies to offer its telemedicine services to more than 5000 doctors across specialties. In India, there are about 250 million people with chronic diseases, Remedo aims at creating a portal which connects with these patients; has unique care plans for their special treatments; adheres to the drug compliance policy and is distinctive in the telemedicine market.