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How this doctor couple is using tech to address child healthcare, making life easier for parents, pediatricians

Tausif Alam
25th Feb 2017
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Pediatric Network seeks to use technology to address gaps in child healthcare by involving both parents and doctors.

India has just one doctor for every 1,681 persons, says a Medical Council of India report. As if the those fugues weren’t bad enough, between April 2013 and March 2016, 4,701 doctors who graduated from India chose to go abroad.

Chaitali Laddad

The doctor-patient ratio becomes even more dismal when it comes to pediatricians. According to the Indian Pediatric Neurology Association, the country has only 65 pediatric neurologists.

Chaitali Laddad, a 37-year-old pediatrician who has over 10 years of experience in the field of medicine, says that on an average, each pediatrician in the country sees 60-70 child patients every day. The average consultation time for a pediatrician in India is five minutes, while the corresponding figure in developed countries is 25-30 minutes.

Owing to the workload, it becomes impossible for doctors to offer child healthcare suggestions to parents. The doctors can’t afford to spend more time on each patient when many others are waiting for their turn. The end result is that parents leave the clinic with a prescription rather than a behavioural change.

Dr. Chaitali and her husband, 37-year-old Dr. Atish Laddad, who also has over a decade of experience as a pediatrician, discussed the existing gap in the medical industry and decided to address it through technology. The husband-wife duo roped in their friend Ravindra Jaju, a 39-year-old technologist who has interests and expertise spread across a broad spectrum including systems architecture, text and data mining, networking, business, advertising and startups.

“We decided to launch a technology platform that would bridge the existing gap. We also thought of developing an ecosystem that would involve everyone — parents, doctors, schools, and teachers — and give them standardised solutions that would raise the benchmark of child healthcare,” says Dr. Chaitali.

In October 2016, the trio launched the platform for pediatricians, Pediatric Network, which was preceded by the pilot launch of the platform for parents in September.

How does it work?

The platform has created a web-based application for pediatricians and a mobile app for parents.

Dr. Chaitali explains that whenever a parent comes to the clinic with the child, a welcome SMS is generated, from which they can download the mobile app. The doctor examines the child and issues the prescription on the platform’s web-based software. The software uses a lot of artificial intelligence and data analytics, and is designed in such a way that a doctor can finish a prescription is less than 30 seconds.

The copy of the prescription goes to the records section of the patient’s downloaded mobile app. The prescription is an intelligent one, giving photographs of the drugs to decrease dispensing errors and also reminding parents when to give medicines to their child. Later, it plans to connect the prescription, which is supported in 11 different languages, to labs and pharmacies.

The mobile app made for parents offers free access to medical records, drug reminders, appointment-booking, vaccine reminders and vaccine info. They also have access to the biggest parental library written by pediatrics from all over the country, which addresses all parenting topics and is being continuously built up depending on what parents want.

Paid-cum-freemium service

Dr. Atish says that the software for doctors is charged at Rs 5,000 per annum.

However, the platform follows a freemium model for patients. Though services in the app are for free, at Rs 500 per annum, parents can avail of other facilities such as a 24x7 helpline manned by pediatricians, manual digitisation of their existing health records, growth charts, and a milestone catalogue.

The Pediatric Network also runs a health checkup service for schools. It offers annual health checkups at Rs 100 per child based on American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. In this health checkup, a comprehensive health evaluation is done by a team of pediatricians, pediatric ophthalmologists, pediatric dentists, pediatric nutritionists and pediatric psychiatrists, and the entire report is mailed to parents.

The building process

Dr. Chaitali says that she has invested close to Rs 1.5 crore in the project. Initially, 60 percent cost went into technology and the rest into marketing and manpower. Now, the ratio has reversed. She adds,

“Healthcare is our domain, but technology is not. We also faced a great challenge in the minute plans of marketing, designing the execution and implementation.”

Now, in less than six months, there are over 250 doctors who are using the platform’s software. Besides that, there are around 30,000 members who are using the Pediatric Network app, of which over 5,000 are paid members.

According to the platform, it has also conducted checkups for more than 15,000 students. Says Dr Chaitali,

“We are yet to engage parents on the marketing side. Most of the paid members are without the marketing. We have booked over 100,000 paid students for the next academic year for school checkups all over India. We are planning to set up regional offices as well. We also have sponsorships for school checkups from Abbott India for their brands. We have successfully completed a pilot project with Sun Pharma for pediatric clinic sponsorships. The outcomes of the pilot project have been promising.”

Market opportunity

According to Dr. Chaitali, there are about 26,000 pediatricians in India. The child care market in India is expected to be worth $27.63 billion by 2020, according to a report titled Maternity and Child Care (MCC) Hospitals Market in India 2015-2020, released by Novonous. In the content segment, there are various companies that have found their niche and offer different solutions in the parenting-kid segment. From parenting to consultation on child health issues to creating awareness of child mental illness to education and other areas, there are various apps in the market, each catering to different needs of parents via technology.

In this segment, Babychakra, Tinystep, ZenParent, Parentlane and Parentune, among others, are the platforms that are targeting the babycare market.

Last October, BabyChakra, a social discovery platform for young parents in India, raised Series A funding from Seattle-based RoundGlass. The company had earlier raised $600,000 in funding led by Mumbai Angles, Patni Family Office and Singapore Angel Network, in June 2015. Bengaluru-based ZenParent, meanwhile, is funded by Venture Factory (by i2india).

MyHealthSaverz, MediAlert, Navia, and Medisafe are some of the platforms in the medical reminder category. Health Impetus and Cure Instant, and others, meanwhile, offer services to pharma companies.

Experts say that with the children’s products and services market in India exceeding $20 billion and growing at a CAGR of at least 20 percent, and parents discovering such services (parenting tips), making online bookings and comparing baby products, startups in this domain are very bullish about future growth.

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