When everything is digital, why are medical records still living a paper life? App-based healthcare platform DRiefcase is out to address that, one scan at a time.
IIM-B alumni Sohit Kapoor and Harsh Parikh were investment bankers at Merrill Lynch for a decade before starting DRiefcase. Their inspiration was simple. In their own words, “At any point, you’re always evaluating what more you can do in life.” An idea caught their fancy in late 2015, and that led to the groundwork for DRiefcase. The startup was officially launched in May 2016.
DRiefcase digitises personal health records and provides patients with single-point, easy-to-use access to their medical data through a mobile app. The records are stored securely, available instantly (you can retrieve any document in just 10 seconds), and can be accessed from anywhere.
Most importantly, patients can choose the data they want to share with doctors, clinics, hospitals, caregivers, and others in the ecosystem. Essentially, DRiefcase puts patients in control of their and their families’ health records.
Now, what triggered this?
Co-founder Harsh explains,
“An incident took place in 2013. My uncle was here from the US. One night we had to rush him to the hospital because he was feeling breathless. When the doctor asked us about his medical history, it was a struggle to access family health records because everything was on paper and disorganised. It wasn’t an acceptable situation.”
“So, we asked ourselves: If travel, share-trading, banking and everything else is digital today, why is personal healthcare still living a paper life?” he says.
This became the problem statement that Harsh and Sohit took to friends, families, doctors, and experts in the healthcare sector. And, it found great resonance with most of them. Stories emerged of parents forgetting their newborns’ vaccination routines, of urban youngsters losing track of their parents’ lifestyle diseases, of senior citizens finding it difficult to sift through old prescriptions, test reports, and so on.
“We came to the conclusion that if telemedicine has to work in India, it has to start with digital health records,” Co-founder Sohit tells YourStory.
“We looked at various markets,” he says. “In the US and the UK, the ecosystem is driven by the healthcare provider or the insurer. The core of the platform is owned by them. It does not put control in the hands of individual patients.”
And, that is where DRiefcase chose to be different.
It set up an app-based consumer-facing platform with strong last-mile connectivity and relationship management on the patient side. “We took a relationship and communication-led approach to health record management instead of a transactional one, which is more common,” Harsh says.
In two years, DRiefcase claims to have processed over 100,000 medical documents, and captured and digitised about half a million data points. The app has recorded over 5,000 installs on Google Play Store. The platform has also integrated a handwriting and voice recognition software now.
The service asks you to register through an email id. You can scan and upload all medical documents from prescriptions, ECGs, X-Rays, MRIs, blood reports, to even birth certificates, and health insurance policies. “It is as simple as clicking a picture and posting it on social media,” Sohit says.
“You just have to capture a photo of the paper record and upload it on the app. With minimal effort, you can end up populating your account. The cataloguing, indexing, and everything else is figured out by us, and within 24-48 hours you’re able to access all your health records on the app.”
If patients don’t want to scan the records themselves, DRiefcase provides a homescan service where an executive comes to their doorstep, picks up the physical medical records, scans them at a facility, and drops them back. A service fee of Rs 500 is charged. Sohit says,
“A customer needs convenience at the end of the day. Our scan-at-home service was the biggest cure to their inertia. It nudged them to start looking at DRiefcase.”
While the pick-and-drop feature is currently available only in Mumbai and its outskirts, DRiefcase has a logistics tie-up with BlueDart that helps them deliver the service to over 6,000 pin codes across India. “We have received packages from Srinagar, Odisha, Chandigarh, and even parts of UP. There is great traction from Pune and Bengaluru too. We have plans to reach the top eight cities by 2020, and an all-India practice eventually,” Sohit reveals.
In December 2018, the startup also rolled out a doctors’ app (DRiefcase Connect) to bring about efficiencies in patient management and improve communication between both parties.
The platform, designed with inputs from doctors and medical experts, offers a streamlined practice management system and “removes all distractions” that come in the way of medical care. There are patient check-in modules that let doctors spend less time noting down their medical history and more time in the actual diagnosis. DRiefcase Connect also enables practitioners to schedule appointments and give e-prescriptions to patients.
Though it is early days for DRiefcase Connect, the response has been “largely positive”.
“Our target markets are polyclinics, small nursing homes, and individual practitioners. We are saying that DRiefcase Connect can enhance doctor productivity by saving at least an hour every day. We have customised forms that can automate patient records and also create a digital communication channel between them and doctors.”
DRiefcase reckons that the doctors’ app will give it more mileage and help increase adoption. “Each doctor literally gets you thousands of users. They are the influencers in the ecosystem,” Sohit says. “We’ll go on adding more features like doctor profiles, content around their practice, and so on.”
At present, DRiefcase is bootstrapped, and not generating a lot of revenues. While the consumer app is free, the startup charges a service fee for its homescan service. Its doctors’ app, on the other hand, is expected to bring in a steady stream of revenues.
The startup intends to adopt a SaaS model for DRiefcase Connect and roll it out to doctors, pathology labs, diagnostic centres, and even large hospitals. Corporate partnerships with health insurance providers are also being looked at. “There is a potential for cross-selling. We’re trying to create an entire health management ecosystem,” Sohit says.
The challenge, however, has been on the team-building front. The founders say that getting good tech talent has been a problem. DRiefcase follows a hybrid model wherein it has an in-house team of 15 people, and also a tech vendor who supports them with freelance techies in Mumbai and Pune.
“We might look to set up a team outside Mumbai, and also raise funding in the second half of 2019. But, no concrete plans yet because there’s good money [founders’ finances] still left.”
But, there’s a “concrete” plan on one thing: DRiefcase wants to disrupt the personal healthcare industry with data management and communication.