Jaipur-based MeraPatient aims to bring more offline pharma stores onlineSindhu Kashyap
MeraPatient, an aggregator of offline pharmacies and diagnostic labs, plans to expand to 10 cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Pune by 2019.
At a glance:
Founders: Manish Mehta and Alok Khandelwal
Founded in: 2017
Where it is located: Jaipur
The problem it solves: Healthcare connectivity
When Manish Mehta, a CA by profession, and Alok Khandelwal a journalist, wanted to start up, they thought of building a product that served the society as a whole. Their plan: to build a platform that everyone could access, and get information from easily.
They started CityPocket Publication in Jaipur, which organised small vendors like tailors, cobblers, sweepers, key makers, and cremation grounds, to name a few, under over 100 categories to provide information about them. Over time, they were able to onboard over 500 different kinds of vendors.
However, they realised there was a larger concern. Despite the profusion of digital healthcare platforms, there wasn’t a single point that brought together all stakeholders in the healthcare system. This led to the start of MeraPatient.
Working on MeraPatient
“After a thorough analysis of the health industry, user perception, and operating loop, we decided to develop an aggregator platform, which brings the traditional marketplace to the fingertips of patients/users,” Manish says.
Manish and Alok had met when they were working for Spic Macay. Manish happened to discuss his entrepreneural ideas with Alok, who joined as a co-founder. Alok was a renowned journalist with a Hindi daily.
“The idea behind developing the MeraPatient app follows a simple philosophy of serving society in an organised manner, especially where health conditions are of major concern,” Manish says.
He adds that with growing e-pharmacies, there is little visibility and push towards the 8.5 lakh offline pharmaceutical shops. The MeraPatient app works on an aggregator model, connecting vendors and users directly unlike apps that follow inventory models.
“With the wide network of certified chemist shops and diagnostic centres, MeraPatient App creates a demand-and-supply situation on the smartphone screen. This empowers users to buy medicines and conduct tests at diagnostic labs as per their choice," Manish says.
What does it do?
A user of MeraPatient App can search nearby authenticated pharma stores and diagnostic labs (in a five-kilometre radius) with the help of a GPS tracker. The user has to upload the prescription on the app, and can see offers from nearby pharma stores or labs, and buy medicines or book an appointment for any prescribed tests.
On the other hand, certified pharma stores and diagnostic labs get alerts based on demand from users, and based on availability, can offer a combination price discounts and home delivery options. Depending on the choice and convenience, a user may choose an option and avail the offer.
Diagnostic labs can also opt for an additional option where they can upload test reports of the user for hassle-free access.
As the product was focused on healthcare, Manish and Alok also decided to come up with a panic button in the app to help a user in an emergency situation. The user can just “slide to panic” and alert his/her pre-programmed family/friend’s contact numbers.
The panic button not only issues an alert to five phone numbers but also gives the location of the person. The alert sound is audible even if phones are on the vibration mode, so family and friends can respond immediately.
In the pink of health
“We started a pilot run of this app in November last year. This January onwards, the app is fully functional in Jaipur. We have registered 100 pharmacies and approximately 20 diagnostics labs on the app with more than 10,000 downloads on Android & IoS,” Manish says.
The app is free for the user; the team charges one percent of the total billed amount as administration fees from the vendor.
The pharma industry is currently pegged at $15 billion, and some of the issues that the sector faces include low fill rates, delivery delays, and expired and spurious medicines. Despite the regulatory challenges, the pharma space is growing significantly. The main other players in the space include Matrix Partners-backed Myra, Sequoia-backed Practo, Bessemer-backed Pharmeasy, and Sequoia-backed 1mg.
MeraPatient, however, runs purely only on an aggregation model and doesn’t have any inventory.
Currently bootstrapped, the team is looking for investment of Rs 20 crore for human resource and infrastructure development in metros and mini-metros. In the first phase, which will continue till 2019, the app will be launched in 10 cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, and three more cities.