Pocket Pill is an app that helps patients track health parameters and medications, and helps them connect with doctors and even avail health services at home.
“One of the biggest concerns I have when I am travelling is to ensure that my father takes his diabetes and high blood pressure medicines on time,” says a senior sales manager at a startup in Bengaluru. Ensuring that one is taking their medicines on time, at the right dosage, is a common challenge.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 50 percent of patients do not take medicines as prescribed, resulting in poor health outcomes and an increase in costs.
It was by observing this pain point that Sudheer Jain and Dr Yogesh Kothari launched Pocket Pill in 2015. It is an app that helps patients track health parameters and medications, and allows them to connect with doctors and even avail health services at home.
They work as an aggregator for all online healthcare platforms like pharmacy, lab, healthcare at home, and medical supplies. The team has tied up with Docsapp.
The user can simply enter the medicines he or she is taking, and the app will show the use of medicine, possible side effects, total cost of prescription, and even aid in buying the medicine online.
“We engage with caregivers to improve the health of their loved ones living with chronic conditions. Today, diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and asthma are taking more lives than any other illness. The adherence issue needs to be addressed immediately, and one way to do that would be by making healthcare connected and social,” says Co-founder Sudheer.
Sudheer had returned to India from the US six years ago. After getting back, he knew he wanted to start up, and so, he met his friend Yogesh, who was then a senior cardiologist. The two had known each other for 12 years, and they shared a common interest in digital health.
It was with the belief that digital health could help empower patients, enabling them to manage their health easily, that the duo started Pocket Pill. The main goal of Pocket Pill is to engage people with chronic conditions in improving their health and avoid emergencies due to missing doses or not being in compliance with prescriptions.
“I am also personally connected to solving this problem, as my parents are both on long-term medication and live in a different city. So, making healthcare connected and social will help to improve health outcomes and reduce unnecessary cost. This will also have huge potential to prevent chronic disease in the young population while they help their loved ones improve their health.”
Healthcare, however, is a complex domain. The technology adoption in this sector is comparatively lower than in other markets, and one needs a healthcare background and experience to create the right product for the target audience.
Over the past couple of months, there have been several online pharmacy and e-pharmacy startups. These include NetMeds (which raised $50 million from OrbiMed), mChemist (started by the ex-president of Ranbaxy), Medd, DeliMedi, CareOnGo, MediDali, and now even the Sequoia-backed Practo.
Pocket Pill, however, works with all of these startups, as it functions as an aggregator of all healthcare platforms.
“Curating the authentic content and making it available offline was a major challenge, which we successfully tackled with the help of doctors and our technology team,” says Sudheer.
Today, the team claims to have more than 50,000 doctors and pharmacists and over 2,50,000 general users accessing the app frequently to know about medicines and to improve adherence by daily tracking.
They started with their first in-house team member by mid-2015 and were able to launch the product in two months’ time. However, in January 2016, they experienced a setback, with the core team quitting, leaving them to rebuild from scratch.
“This was a big challenge, because we had just started marketing with doctors and, at the same time, had to rebuild the team,” says Sudheer. This time around, they took their time and hired people who believed in the vision before setting the ball rolling again.
The team now claims to have over 3,00,000 organic installs, with a 40 percent month-on-month user engagement and three million drug searches. Currently bootstrapped, the team claims to be working towards now aggregating both offline and online healthcare services and building IoT products for improving medication adherence using Big Data
The team believes that data would help them build systems in the future for healthcare professionals to set medicine schedules based on patient lifestyle and help pharmaceutical companies improve medicines and reduce cost-to-market.