E-health platforms see big growth amid covid pandemic

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New Delhi: E-health startups are witnessing sharp growth in the last few months as covid-induced lockdown and social distancing have prompted customers to move to online consultation, treatment, medical tests and medicine delivery.

Healthcare startups are witnessing a huge surge in demand and a spurt in funding activity, similar to edtech platforms, which outperformed all other sectors among startups.

E-health platform Practo Technologies registered a 600% growth in online consultations since the lockdown started in March, with 70% of all users being first-time telemedicine users and 45% from smaller cities.

“Health-tech startups in e-health, remote healthcare and online medical supplies space have seen high growth in the post-covid world,” said Aryaman Tandon, practice leader, healthcare, Praxis Global Alliance. He added during the crisis, online pharmacies have played an essential role in availability of drugs and medicines with social distancing measures.

Teleconsultations at Bengaluru-based on-demand healthcare service Mfine have grown 3-4 times in recent months.

“We now have over 500 hospitals on the MFine platform with more than 3000 doctors. We added nearly 250 hospitals in the last 3 months,” says Prasad Kompalli, CEO and co-founder, MFine.

MFine also launched a coronavirus assessment tool on its app that has been used by over 50,000 patients since March, and currently records 10,000 transactions per day.

“Covid reinforced MFine’s vision that point of care can not only be physical hospitals. Consumers should be able access healthcare services on their personal devices anytime from anywhere,” says Kompalli, adding that digital transformation happening in healthcare delivery wherein virtual visits, data driven decisions, remote monitoring, preventive/predictive care are becoming the norm.

At 1mg Technologies Pvt Ltd until March, only 8% of customers in the company’s doctor consultation business used to pay for the service. Over the past two months, that has risen to 70% and nearly 10,000 doctors have shown interest in signing up with to treat patients. Before March, 1mg had only 150 doctors on the platform.

Many health tech startups have also been smart enough to re-orient their business models to stay afloat during covid times.

Mumbai-based Qure.ai had been using Artificial Intelligence to detect abnormalities from chest X-rays for the past four years, but has now repurposed the technology to detect for covid-19.

Investors are showing an interest in the healthcare space. E-health startups raised $128.8 million in the first half of 2020, up 34% compared to the same period last year. Wellness and fitness startup Curefit raised around 832 crore led by Temasek and healthcare technology firm Innovaccer Inc. raised $70 million among others.

The current pandemic has also stressed the need to leverage technology to cater to healthcare needs.

“If India has to fulfil its mission of ‘Healthcare for All’, it must focus on leveraging technology and digital health along with focus on promotion of wellness and preventive health,” said Amit Varma, co-founder of HealthQuad. a healthcare focused venture capital fund, that recently raised 514 crore for its second fund.

Delivering accessible, affordable and convenient healthcare to the remotest parts of India is the next big focus of these digital health platforms.

“Telemedicine along with other healthcare technologies like online appointment booking, to avoid crowding, will play a huge role going forward,” said Alexander Kuruvilla, Chief Health Strategy Officer, Practo.

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