This Telemedicine Startup Will Help You Consult With Your Choice Of Doctors
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Over the past decade, a slew of new diseases has kept our healthcare workers occupied. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the entire world’s healthcare sector into a tizzy. With the habit of physical distancing inculcated deep down in our system to protect ourselves, both doctors and patients are understanding the importance of technology and falling back on online consultation platforms.
One such platform is Delhi-NCR-based Lybrate. Founded in 2013, this health and wellness platform has successfully helped millions of patients contact doctors and seek consultation with a simple tap. In an interview with Entrepreneur India, Saurabh Arora, chief executive officer and founder of Lybrate, talks about the importance of online consultation during the pandemic and how Lybrate is helping millions.
“I noticed that people had to spend two to three hours along with the cost of transport to meet a doctor for just ten minutes. Apart from these, the lack of accessibility to specialists outside metro cities made us realize the need of a consultation firm at a national level,” Arora said when asked about the idea behind Lybrate.
Arora, who has worked with Facebook earlier, said around the same time the government was too pushing for telemedicine even before 2013 to connect villages and public health centres to provide health consultations to the remotest areas possible.
Self-medication and taboo related to sexual health were two other important issues that Arora and his team wanted to address.
At present, over two lakh doctors are consulting patients online through Lybrate platform with 15 million interactions taking place every month.
Lybrate app is both available on iOS and Android and free to download. A user can log into the app to check either book an appointment where he/she has to visit the clinic physically, or the user can consult with a doctor while sitting at home.
In the consultation section, a user can choose specialists across the country. Once a user finds a suitable doctor, he/she can opt for the mode of communication. Lybrate provides three modes of communication—text, audio, audio-plus-video. Arora said audio mode of consultation is most preferred by doctors and patients. However in some specific cases, such as in skincare, doctors prefer the video option.
Depending on the mode of communication, the user has to pay the fee directly through the app. Users also have the option to find their previous doctors over the app and consult them through the platform.
The app also provides a separate section for doctors to share their thoughts with each other.
When it comes to competing with other telemedicine players, Arora believes Lybrate is the only platform that is transparent and allows users to choose doctors at their disposal.
“Of many of these new platforms, many of them don't allow you to select a doctor. So what they do is they tell you to pay the fees for a specialist and later any specialist will connect,” Arora explained. He refuses to call these players as platforms and instead describes them ‘managed marketplace’.
Lybrate earns a minute share from the consultation fees charged by the doctors.
The ongoing pandemic has further boosted the growth in terms of consultations on telemedicine platforms due to the mandatory physical distancing norms. Lybrate during the past three months has seen a 180 per cent rise in online consultations on the platform.
When asked about the type of consultation sought by users, Arora said, “Problems like joint pain back, headache, dry eyes cases are coming up because of less outdoor activities and high screen on time. Users are asking on how to boost their immunity to fight this virus.”
The app has seen a rise in consultation from patients with chronic illness such as diabetes, hypertension, and high blood pressure.
Apart from these, Arora said there has been a significant rise in consultation on mental health in the past four months.
Future and post-COVID-19 era
According to Arora, once the much-awaited COVID-19 vaccine arrives, there will be a drop in the number of consultations on telemedicine platforms. However, he believes that patients will still be sceptical stepping outside their homes.
“Telemedicine is at peak right now, but once things go back to normal, the peak will come down. However, the numbers will be much higher than pre-COVID-19 days,” added Arora.
Lybrate will try to onboard over 400,000 doctors, including AYUSH doctors, in the next one year and leverage artificial intelligence to share a patient’s medical history while reaching out to a new doctor.The startup has till date raised funding worth $14 million.