“Digital healthcare solutions are gaining validation”

Mentioned Mr Ashutosh Lawania, co-founder of mfine in an exclusive interaction with the BioVoice where he shared his insights on the company's journey so far, besides views on digital healthcare

An IIT Kanpur alumnus, Ashutosh Lawania is a serial entrepreneur. He has also been an active angel investor in various internet technology start-ups.

Launched in December 2017 in Bengaluru, mfine, an AI powered, on-demand healthcare service which follows a unique model of partnering with leading and trusted hospitals instead of aggregating individual doctors on its platform for providing online consultation to the patients. mfine has provided 3,00,000 consultations so far and is now expanding its presence in Delhi NCR after successful operations in Hyderabad and Bengaluru. It has partnered with 9 hospitals in Delhi NCR and plans to sign up 75 hospitals and more than 500 doctors in the next 6 months.

Mr Ashutosh Lawania, co-founder of mfine shared his insights on the company’s journey so far in this exclusive interaction with the BioVoice. Ashutosh has been a serial entrepreneur and before mfine, he co-founded Myntra, a fashion e-commerce business. Here he also talks about the role of artificial intelligence in healthcare and positives of digital healthcare. Read on:

Please tell us about the 5 unique points that make mfine stand out in the crowd of apps? 

The 5-things I believe that make us stand out are:

  • The largest Virtual Hospital in India: We aren’t just another telemedicine app. We’re the largest virtual hospital in India that provides complete on demand Out-Patient Care. The mfine platform aggregates 200 top Indian hospitals across five cities, offering on-demand services with 600+ doctors from 22 specialties. On our app, patients can avail on-demand Video consultations with doctors, Preventive Care Programs, Online Lab testing and Pharmacy services; in short, their full health journey.

  • Unique partnership model:Unlike other apps, mfine is the only app that aggregates top hospitals in the vicinity for patients thereby enabling the on-demand outpatient healthcare services. Other apps work with individual doctors, encouraging subscriptions from those doctors and their individual clinics.

  • Healthcare delivery channel not a discovery channel: Mfine is a platform for the immediate delivery of healthcare services; patients get diagnosis and consultations right then and there. Other platforms serve just as a directory—for patients to discover the right doctor, which they then have to take forward offline for consultations and diagnosis.

  • AI-powered diagnosis engine:Our AI platform helps doctors to be more effective in their care delivery on the app, by constantly learning from doctors’ diagnoses and treatment plans. The system is currently trained to recognize 1,200 diseases and provide a diagnostic recommendation; this learning expands with every new consultation. It feeds this knowledge into medical decisions which are further leveraged by doctors in virtual consultations on the mfine platform.

  • On-Demand: mfine provides access to quality care on demand. On mfine patients can consult top doctors within 60 seconds from 7 AM to Midnight.

How has the journey been so far including market success and client responses?

Our users value the speed and comfort of access to top doctors from trusted institutions available round the clock, and we’ve received consistently positive feedback about our services. Doctors too, love the system for the assistance they get from our AI technology which helps them make their practice more productive and effective.

mfine was launched in January 2018 and presently we do 1500 transactions per day. We have provided care to 200,000 patients since 2018. Our mfine network has expanded to 190 current partners, across five cities, and we are looking to expand that across the top 10 cities for both provider partnerships and enabling customer services on the platform. .

What is the revenue model of the company? What are your expectations?

We work on a revenue-sharing model with our partner hospitals. Patients pay on the mfine platform for various services such as Consultation, Diagnosis, Preventive Health Checks, Care program, and Medicine Delivery they avail on mfine and those services are fulfilled by our hospital partners.

What role will Artificial Intelligence play in the transformation of the healthcare industry?

We believe that in India, Artificial Intelligence cannot be seen just as another value addition to healthcare. It must be considered integral to filling the current gap between the number of doctors needed to manage the rising patient burden.

WHO recommends a minimum doctor-patient ratio of 1:100 and in our country, we will need 2.3 million doctors by 2030 to achieve this goal. Given the current scenario in India, mfine proves itself to be very valuable and effective. We have already served patients in more than 800 towns; this is possible because this technology allows us to remove barriers of time and distance.

AI can help revolutionize a lot of processes in healthcare, from reducing the OPD time to ensuring patient compliance and adherence to therapy by chronic disease management platforms. For example, at mfine, our platform meticulously prepares data for each and every case, ensures timely follow-ups and reminders. This make treatment experience more comfortable for both the provider as well as the patient.

AI can help reduce cases of provider burnout by automating the downward process for physicians, thereby letting the doctor concentrate primarily on quality of care.  At mfine, we have close to 1200 disease areas which our system is trained to take on and deliver a diagnostic conclusion with over 85% diagnostic accuracy. Currently, we handle a load of over 1500 cases every day, on our platform which is equivalent to a fully functioning physical hospital.

The massive patient data surely will present opportunities for research but what about data security and threats of misuse?

Data security is definitely a concern with advancing technology; however, data privacy and security are a priority for us. For this, we have taken numerous measures to ensure that patient information remains confidential, including in the AI learning process. Only doctors can access the patient information in the context of care, thereby reducing the possibility of information misuse.  We are also very particular about the fact that none of the patient data is disclosed to the third parties.

What are the key challenges as far as digital healthcare in India is concerned?

One of the key challenges is ensuring that the regulatory framework keeps pace with innovation so that progress is not hampered. It is very important for the nation to have a regulatory framework to guide innovation so that the interests of all the stakeholders, especially the patients are safeguarded.  Digital healthcare solutions are gaining validation from various international agencies and this helps in the faster adoption of technology by providers.

I would also like to emphasize that the meaning of digital health is ambiguous in the minds of different stakeholders, for some it is simply that digital health equals EHRs (electronic health records). But digital health is much more than just digitizing the patient records. There needs to be more conversation about the opportunities digital health offers to both the private as well as the public sector. Changing perceptions can also help in the faster adoption of technology. The analysis says that cost is one of the major barriers in the adoption of digital technology, but that is not the case. Adoption of digital technology, in fact, reduces the operational costs and making healthcare delivery more economical.