Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld spoke to Prashant Tandon, Founder, CEO, 1 MG to know his views on the role of technology in healthcare and how he drives his digital platform, 1Mg.
I think globally healthcare is seeing a massive change happen whether it’s China, US, different parts of the world is finally seeing digital technology is changed and come up with new models of healthcare. I think there is a great appreciation now that consumers are getting more and more involved in their healthcare and they want a better experience and technology is making new things happen. I will give you the example of China, where the public health system has a lot of burden not very dissimilar from India. A lot of people for their primary care also go to hospitals, so the government is actively facilitating telemedicine, e – consultations and that’s putting a lot of emphasis on innovation, AI based technology models, fundamental changes are happening in the technology space. If you look at the Doctor- Patient interaction, it has worked the same way for the last 100 years.
Now technology has started playing a role to add productivity layer on the top and one doctor is capable of seeing a lot more patients, a lot faster with more quality so we are seeing very exiting changes. I think, healthcare as system or as a industry, is going to massively move towards the patient centric personalized preventative model. I think we have always dreamt about those things but it’s now becoming real and we are seeing changes of innovation all over the world and this is one area where India is not behind so we are, I think, keeping pace as the world is changing and we intend to lead the way if we can.
The one interesting part about India is most of healthcare is actually consumer led so consumer pays for their healthcare, the insurance or the public spend is lower so what that means is there is a bigger opportunity to make models that are more consumer centric.. One can understand in US, China it’s the public health or the insurance models that determine what gets delivered. In India it is the patient who is the payer and patient who is the receiver. So I think India is going through a very fundamental change probably faster than most people realize.
There are of course a lot of challenges, health is a state subject where center and state sometimes have different views, a policy changes take time, innovation in a regulated sector by definition and is a challenge because regulation tries to keep things one way and innovation wants to change the way it happens but I think fundamentally we are moving in the right direction because the government appreciates doing things the same way or copying the models of west and trying to replicate them in India will never work. India will never meet it’s doctor to patient ratio and it will never have the access to healthcare for everyone through the physical channel, technology has to play a way. So I think, I am very optimistic right now that India is on the right path like with most other things it’s slower than one would like but at least the direction is right.
Journey so far
1 MG is India’s largest digital health platform and what it means is or rather how we started it, it’s a very interesting journey. We started as a transparency initiative around medicines because what we saw was in India the consumers want to learn a lot more about their healthcare but there is no source they can trust, doctors don’t have time , pharmacists are almost non- existent in the pharmacy shops and consumers were looking all over internet for information and getting more and more confused. We created 1 MG as transparency platform where you can get information on substitutes you could save money from side- effects, interactions, how to use medicines how not and people started flocking to this platform organically.
Today we are more than 100 million monthly page views on our platform. In the medical category almost 40% share of the traffic is ours and we got a lot of love from consumers who are seeking this transparency so when we saw that happen when the business model came after the consumers were using the platform then we started thinking what more can be make out of it and then for me the idea was very clear, healthcare makes sense as an integrated service where your pharmacy, lab, doctors, health records everything is in one place and has context of each other, easy to do on a digital platform in the physical format all of these are different single transactions so I think keeping patient at the center of healthcare creating a platform where they can get all there information, products and services that’s what 1 MG does and we have been pretty fortunate to lead the industry on that.
So I think in healthcare there is opportunity to make almost every experience better so we are first actively building out our pharmacy, labs and our telemedicine platform. We want every Indian in the country to access this platform. We are already in 6 languages and we will expand that as well, so one is just growth of the existing services. Secondly as I mentioned we are doing very fundamental work on technology and data sciences so Artificial Intelligence based models to create a doctor assistant that can make a doctor, way more productive. We are working on outcomes based data models in healthcare . So one part is the transactions and the delivery business and the other part is technology and fundamental data sciences which are going to change healthcare in the next 5 years.