As an avid sports enthusiast, Bimlesh Gundurao, was no stranger to injuries. Once, having sustained a severe ankle sprain that left him immobile for close to two weeks, he lost the prescription after his first visit to the doctor.
"There were so many medicines on the table, and none of us knew which one had to be eaten before and after food, what sequence the medicines had to be taken in, and how many times each day. We had such a tough time reaching the doctor who was a visiting consultant. Finally, when we managed to get the doctor, he had no clue who we were, and could not remember what he had prescribed. We had to read out the names of all the medicines and then make notes on his instructions," says Bimlesh.
Bimlesh's personal experiences further sealed this idea. On one occasion, his mother, who has issues with her thyroid and BP, fell ill as she had skipped a few doses. The family had no clue about her medication consumption pattern. Again, they were unable to find her prescription. Lack of data led the doctor to take decisions with very limited data. This led to treatment on a trial-and-error basis.
This incident happened soon after Bimlesh’s own injury making him realise how critical it was to have access to digital prescriptions and be able to digitally procure medicines and receive reminders.
Breaking the market
The complexity of this process is what gave Bimlesh the idea for his healthcare startup - Aguai Solutions, to make prescription management simpler. We are at the brink of a healthcare and healthtech startup revolution. With a billion-strong population, the healthcare market is believed to be growing at CAGR of 17 per cent. The total size of the of this industry is expected to be $160 billion by 2017.
Bimlesh started Aguai Solutions 2 .5 years ago. The company started by providing application and product development-related IT services to companies in the US and India. They also provide software technology solutions on web/cloud/mobile to healthcare and I-powered businesses.
Over the past year, the team has started building their own products with a focus on the medications and prescriptions space, while keeping the pharmacy at the centre of outpatient healthcare.
Bimlesh says he always wanted to do something that would help the Indian healthcare ecosystem. He looked at the electronic medical record (EMR) and patient management systems for children and senior citizens, but his market research proved that data entry wasn't the means to help people manage data. This meant that a more holistic approach was needed.
The trio work approach
Aguai Solutions launched three products that connect pharmacies, patients and pharma distributors over the last six months. These include:
- Pharmeazy and Distributeazy: This technology is used to partner with pharmacy retail chains, and is currently used by six stores in Bengaluru. The team plans to expand to 50 stores in south India over the next two years.
- Medieazy – This platform has got close to 700 signups, and over 100 orders have been processed through the platform
- Rxeazy - a platform for ePrescriptions for doctors will be launched by December 2015.
"Our connected healthcare approach is our biggest USP and key differentiator. We have a unified backend with different front-ends of data consumption using web/cloud/mobile interfaces," adds Bimlesh.
Getting heads together
With this idea in place, Bimlesh roped in Madhur Rao, an IT Professional with over 15 years of experience, and Shreeram MC as the Key Technical Architects. Shreeram has over 10 years of experience, and has worked with other startups and powered several technology products.
Dr. Niaz, a healthcare IT professional, joined as clinician advisor and Tarun Bhargav as Sr. Product Development Leader. Saurabh K, vice-president of BioLife Sciences, was roped in as the Pharma Advisor.
How does it all work?
Once you take a picture of your prescription, send it to the pharmacy near you. The pharmacy gets the order via a phone/web application. The pharmacies then process the order and the medicines are delivered to your home. An app also allows you to set reminders, and take all your doses on time to complete your medication course.
The patterns of consumption are captured and can be shared with the doctor as 'medication adherence.' Pharmacies also stand to benefit as the platform links them to distributors, ensuring greater visibility and the ability to send notifications on stock re-orders and movements.
The team will also launch a doctor-consultation vertical, where the doctor writes a prescription on paper using Aguai’s digital pen. The notes on the paper will be captured on the doctor’s smartphone and can be shared in real-time with the patient. "Now the doctor can have a mini-EMR repository on his or her phone with a Patient and Prescription Management system," adds Bimlesh.
It is believed the per capita expenditure on healthcare is estimated to increase to $89 in 2015 from $61 in 2012. The market size of the sector in India was estimated to be $75 billion during 2012-13. While the healthcare segment is getting hotter by the minute, many doctors question if all this will ultimately really solve the healthcare problems people face.