Technology

5 questions with... MyDoc

Dr Snehal Patel (left) and Dr Vas Metupalle, co-founders of MyDoc, said that while patients were ready for change, healthcare professionals took a little longer to accept their concept. The firm plans to enter new markets like China, India and Thaila
Dr Snehal Patel (left) and Dr Vas Metupalle, co-founders of MyDoc, said that while patients were ready for change, healthcare professionals took a little longer to accept their concept. The firm plans to enter new markets like China, India and Thailand and invest over $2.8 million in the next two years on expansion.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

As the trend of delivering health services through digital platforms gains traction in Asia, Singapore firms have been tapping healthcare technology for business growth. One company that has successfully harnessed the benefits of such technology is MyDoc, a Singapore-based regional digital health firm that connects patients, medical professionals and insurers under one online platform. It offers a range of services, including online bookings, consultations and prescriptions. Co-founders Snehal Patel and Vas Metupalle tell Tiffany Cheong about their digital services and the company’s progress.

Q How did MyDoc's journey begin?

Dr Patel: Vas and I founded MyDoc in 2012 to simplify outpatient care. We aimed to make it convenient for patients to seek medical help and eliminate delays that they face at traditional healthcare facilities.

Dr Metupalle: At that time, it was still early for digital health. Medical results were not properly stored.

We focused on managing healthcare data. We stored patients' medical results in the online database, giving them personal records. We built a network of healthcare players, including pharmacies, insurers and medical professionals. We did this through people we used to work with in our previous jobs.

Our network gradually grew by recommendations to our services.

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Dr Patel: The market was fragmented. Patients were unsure whether to approach physicians or pharmacists. There were apps for many functions like booking and e-retail, but none were connected.

Our directive was to bring all actors in the healthcare ecosystem on a common platform to make things easier for patients. We worked towards care coordination for healthcare players and patients to communicate effectively, by offering teleconsults and access to doctors and allied professionals such as nurses.

HOW TO DISRUPT AN INDUSTRY

The healthcare industry comprises a complex ecosystem. We learnt that to truly disrupt an industry, one must work in sync with the industry, rather than against it."

DR SNEHAL PATEL, on how they leveraged existing processes instead of replacing them totally.

Healthcare data in Asia is not standardised across services, markets or even in-market, as providers use different data tracking tools. This causes ineffective tracking of long- term health issues, and complexity in managing payment and data-sharing for providers.

We share data and integrate with our providers' existing systems to streamline the entire process and lower overheads for our partners.

We focus on every area in healthcare that we can automate, shorten and simplify. This will make the future of healthcare quicker, more effective and of the highest quality.

Q How are your operations?

Dr Patel: We work with trusted partners, as the most important thing to consumers is not money or convenience, but trust.

Our health screening services have been powerful in saving costs for corporates. Corporates have been providing annual health screening services to employees to help them catch diseases early.

But less than 10 per cent of employees who were screened actually follow up with the results. It was a waste of money for corporates.

Dr Metupalle: To make it convenient for employees to do follow- up check-ups and encourage them to do so, we offered online consultation services. Employees could connect with a healthcare professional through a message or video call.

While waiting times for registration and consultation at polyclinics easily exceed two hours, patients could book consultations at their own convenience with MyDoc.

We track real-time usage to see the number of video consultations and messages sent via our platform. This allows us to anticipate demand and increase supply of healthcare providers when needed, thus maintaining good patient experience. Our tech developers and designers are in-house and based in Singapore. We also have a mobile team to build our network across the region.

Q Did you face any hurdles?

Dr Patel: We faced the initial challenge of resistance to change. While patients were ready for change, healthcare professionals took a while longer to accept us.

But as doctors ourselves, we managed to convince physicians of our credibility and make them feel more comfortable with us.

The healthcare industry comprises a complex ecosystem. We learnt that to truly disrupt an industry, one must work in sync with the industry, rather than against it.

We leveraged existing processes rather than replace them totally. To simplify healthcare processes and drive efficiency, we converted basic procedures like doctor consultations to our online platform.

As we expand in Asia, more players will enter. We are already seeing established traditional businesses entering the digital space.

Many big brands have their own road maps for tech advancement and innovation. While this is a sign that digital health is gaining traction, it poses a challenge to us.

However, many big firms have also worked with us to enter the digital market quickly. It is because we offer them unique insights on linking with clients more efficiently.

We have just re-launched our partnership with Guardian Pharmacy to create Singapore's first Digital Community health programme, offering free medical advice from trusted local healthcare professionals.

Q How far has MyDoc come?

Dr Patel: In the past year, we had over 10 per cent month-on-month growth in terms of registered and active users, growing our database to over 50,000 users. We have offices in Singapore and Hong Kong to support our regional network, including Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

We have partnered over 100 corporates here for health screenings, telehealth and online prescriptions. We have strong demand from the insurance sector, as we reduce costs greatly for insurers. We partner some of Asia's largest insurers, like AIA Insurance and AXA Insurance. We are the official health screening partner for the Health Promotion Board's health screening initiative for small and medium-sized firms.

Our edge is being able to scale seamlessly. Technology-wise, it is a straightforward cloud-based system to add on services as needed.

Provider-wise, we have a list of healthcare players, ready to join in. We can simply tap our network to introduce more providers.

Our data shows a 60 per cent to 85 per cent follow-up rate with a MyDoc doctor compared with below 10 per cent via traditional health screenings.

We are the only online prescription provider working with the Health Sciences Authority. This month, we will be Singapore's first to offer online medical certificates.

Q What are your growth plans?

Dr Metupalle: We plan to enter new markets like China, India and Thailand. We aim to invest over $2.8 million in the next two years on expansion. We already have strong relationships in different countries. Hence, we do not need to start from ground zero in building our network.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2017, with the headline '5 questions with... MyDoc'. Print Edition | Subscribe