#Asia Why an e-pharmacy’s branching into health management

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doctor taking woman's blood pressure

Medication is only a very small part of healthcare, especially for those who have chronic diseases like diabetes. Photo credit: sheeler / 123RF.

In May 2016, Noida-based Just Relief launched as an online pharmacy, through which patients could fill their prescriptions and buy other health products at a discount. It also offered at-home medical services, including sending technicians to residences to administer vaccinations and diagnose conditions.

Just Relief became one of many cooks in a bustling kitchen. Medical delivery startups in India include BookMEDS, Pluss, CareOnGo, 1mg, MeraMedicare, and Dawailelo.

See: Why Maverick, Sequoia India injected $15m in e-pharmacy startup

These e-pharmacies are barely distinguishable by focus area. BookMEDS and Pluss both aggregate pharmacies, but Pluss uses its own delivery team to disperse the medicine. MeraMedicare concentrates on offering generic alternatives to expensive name-brand medications. CareOnGo gives smaller pharmacies a leg up under big brands by bringing them under its brand, and Dawailelo focuses on tier-two and tier-three cities. 1mg landed funding and acquisitions throughout last year.

The company is going to launch a health management platform next month.

Bottom line: they will all bring your medicines to your doorstep once you order online.

Just Relief’s response to competition wasn’t to try to find a niche – it was to branch out.

To further tackle chronic illness – and health issues in general – the company is going to launch a health management platform next month. Designed with patients over 40 in mind, it will help subscribers keep track of their health and chronic conditions, if any. It’ll also function as a health manager and will keep reports in graph form, accessible for patients via mobile app or on the web.

While its pharmacy service will continue to function, the health management program will become Just Relief’s main offering, startup founder and CEO Amit Goel said. It will begin its services in Delhi-NCR next month.

Packaged health

health-pills-medicine-drugs

Photo credit: Pixabay.

Amit launched Just Relief after seeing his family suffer from chronic illness detected at a late stage.

Amit – who has previously founded Continua Kids, a neurotherapy center for differently-abled children – tells Tech in Asia that he has always been interested in healthcare, which he sees as the “biggest problem in India.” While he kept the interest throughout his school years, a solid idea didn’t “click” for him until 2014. Amit then began developing Just Relief. The company now has a staff of 64 people.

The trained MBA says patients will be able to purchase services from the program in set packages that will range from US$45 to US$450 a year. Packages can include a number of services including check-ups, blood tests, counseling, at-home physical therapy, and emergency assistance. 75 percent of those services will be available at home.

See: This device will worry about your family’s health for you

A wide net

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Photo credit: Day Donaldson.

Though TopDoctorsOnline takes a similar all-in-one approach to health and wellness, health tracking tech startups in India tend to focus on niches.

iCHR, Babygogo, Babyberry, and MyChild focus on tracking health and development in children. Diabeto and HealthPlix concentrate on tracking medication, lifestyle changes, and the testing that accompanies chronic illnesses like diabetes.

Just Relief’s biting off a lot to chew.

Just Relief’s biting off a lot to chew. What can help is that it already has 9,000 doctors, 32 hospitals, over 200 physiotherapists, and six pathology labs as partners in Delhi-NCR, Bangalore, and Mumbai. It also plans on having other professionals like dieticians as part of the team.

Medical professional partners have to come recommended. Buying in bulk, Amit says, helps the company offer discounts.

The system will assign a health manager to each customer, who can be involved to the extent the patient wishes. “One health manager can handle 20 to 35 patients a day,” says Amit, referring to the company’s own research. The platform is aiming to get 500 to 600 patients on the platform.

The startup’s own team will be in charge of digitizing prescriptions for patient profiles, something that will be done by hand because, Amit jokes, what computer can read physicians’ handwriting? Once they put in the information, the program’s analytics engine will take over and chart user data.

See: His chronic illness inspired him to tackle diabetes in India with a mobile app

Converted from Indian rupees. Rate: US$1 = INR 66.74.

This post Why an e-pharmacy’s branching into health management appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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