Making virtual healthcare feasible

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Prasad Kompalli, CEO & Co-Founder, mfine, shares his views on how Artificial Intelligence (AI), mobile health can transform healthcare delivery in an interaction with Prathiba Raju

How did the concept of mfine evolve? What is your USP as many such softwares are available? Why you are tying up with hospitals instead of doctors directly?

mfine comes from the idea to make access to quality healthcare easy and simple. We strongly believe that technology, in particular mobile Internet and AI can transform healthcare delivery in India leading to better quality and experience for the consumers. While we understood the complexities of the healthcare sector, we also saw an opportunity to deliver higher level of quality and experience for consumers with technology. We zeroed in on high quality and on-demand access to be the foundation of what we would build. To bring in the much needed trust and quality, we partner with trusted and premium institutions such as KIMS- Hyderabad, Apollo Bangalore, CloudNine, Femiint Health and Aster CMI Hospitals.

How will mfine help for a better primary healthcare delivery — both in urban and rural areas?

When you look at Indian healthcare industry, it is characterised by very low doctor-patient ratio (1:1700) and more than 70 per cent of medical bills are paid out-of-pocket by patients. Not much is being done at the primary and secondary care level to prevent further expensive and life threatening complications. Technology is an inevitable solution to this problem. mfine leverages on the massive adoption of smartphones and mobile Internet to dramatically change the access and reach of specialists doctors. We envisioned and are building a one-of-its-kind virtual hospital that brings the best care providers and state-of-the-art tech together. We have built an AI powered diagnosis engine that can be infinitely scalable assistant to those top specialist doctors.

How does your technology help hospitals to maximise patient outreach. How do people see or accept the concept of cloud clinic?

With technology, we are able to take the high quality care beyond the walls of the hospitals. We help users to consult their doctor without physically visiting one. From answering to health queries, providing proper consultations and enabling long-term care, all can be done on mfine through the user’s mobile. You can simply give the symptoms that are bothering you; select the hospital and the doctor you wish to talk to and start your consultation within 10 mins. mfine has senior doctors from reputed hospitals available for online consultations. The power of this phenomenon is immense. The discreteness and the personalisation one needs in healthcare is now possible and we can cater to all kinds of people and their varied requirements.

The cloud clinic is essentially designed to deliver high quality care from the biggest and the best in healthcare via an always-on, on-demand service. Our differentiation also comes from the fact that we are creating a digital assistant for the doctor and at the same time building a robust mobile health companion for the patient. We are focussed on bringing trusted, reputable and high-quality hospitals into digital space and are not a marketplace of individual doctors. Our AI-powered tech system can scale quality care and make it reach to millions of people. These two aspects make us very unique in the way we build mfine as a tech-led and consumer experience focused business.

How are you deploying AI to speed up decision-making? How is mfine poised to leverage it?

As per a report by the Centre for Internet Society (CIS) India published earlier this year, AI could help add $ 957 billion to the Indian economy by 2035. AI can be a very powerful assistant that can scale a doctor’s time and reach. In our case, our algos are able to collect the relevant info about the patient’s illness along with their medical/lifestyle history to prepare a comprehensive case sheet for the doctors. The case sheet also includes options for diagnosis and templates for treatment plans. This not only helps the doctors to be more efficient but also reduces human errors dramatically. We are able to identify the treatment protocols and translate them into simple actions for the consumers such as medicine reminders for improving treatment adherence, suggestion and alerts for monitoring long-term chronic conditions etc.

How many consultation happen in a month and how much do you want to achieve in the next fiscal?

We have done more than 55,000 consultations on mfine by some of the top doctors across Bengaluru and Hyderabad and are currently at a run rate on 10,000 consultations per month. We would like to achieve half a million consultations by end of 2019.

How many hospitals you are partnered with? How will you use the patient data?

We have over 200 doctors from 70 leading hospitals consulting across 18 different specialities. We leverage AI/ML systems in combination with standard medical protocols, to make high quality care reach consumers across the country. We have built our disease diagnosis models based on million of data records that are coming from public domain research information, hospitals partnerships. There is reinforcement learning going on everyday with all the data that is getting created as people are using mfine to consult doctors and the doctors are making notes.

Do you think patients are aware of such apps, how do you see the adoption level of your app?

I believe the doctors and hospitals are excited about mfine. In metro cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad, people are more aware and also value the quality care we provide. Most people might have this notion that acute conditions always require a hospital visit. This isn’t the case for all medical conditions. Non-emergency health concerns can be addressed through digital space.  We believe that mobile can be a game change in the delivery of primary health care. From access, to diagnosis, to preventive healthcare, technology can disrupt the future of “visiting a doctor”.

With the roll out of Ayushman Bharat and upcoming HWC, how will this help such start-ups initiative like yours.

It’s actually great to see the government recognising the problem of care delivery and implementing initiatives such as Ayushman Bharat. It will also help increase the infrastructure level capabilities for all of us to benefit from. More tech usage as envisaged in PMJAY will also move the entire ecosystem forward and patients and doctors will grow comfortable with newer care delivery methods like digital and mobile. We would love to contribute ideas, technology or in any other way appropriate to democratise access to quality healthcare.

What is the scope of startups future in the healthcare sector?

More and more startups now are focussing on domestic consumption and fundamental areas like education, healthcare. We see huge innovations coming up in this sector. Worldover tech-lead, universal healthcare is the next big frontier to cross and India is no exception. In India, with mobile, health devices, we have a big chance to leapfrog other developed markets and quickly deploy newer care delivery processes and systems.