[App Fridays] AI-powered mfine lets you consult doctors online and get medical advice on chat
Imagine a scenario where you are unwell but just can't skip work. A quick consultation and medication would help, but getting out of office is next to impossible. Earlier, one would bear and suffer in silence, but help is at hand in the form of a mobile app. Mfine is one such app that's seeking a place in the medical consultation space, which has options such as DocsApp, Lybrate, Medlife, and Practo.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India has one doctor for every 1,700 people; if one considers specialists, this number goes down to one doctor for every 5,000 people. Easy to understand why a visit to the doctor comes with long queues and waiting periods.
But no more as mobile and internet are making healthcare more accessible.
Bengaluru-based mfine is an on-demand healthcare service that provides users consultation with reputed hospitals and doctors, without having to physically visit the hospital.
The startup was founded in February 2017 by former Myntra executives Ashutosh Lawania and Prasad Kompalli. They were later joined by other Myntra staffers Ajit Narayanan and Arjun Choudhary.
Mfine recently received a Series B funding of $17.2 million in a round led by Japan-based VC firm SBI Investment and others, and has so far raised over $24 million. It has 200 employees spread over Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
YourStory used the app for a consultation, and here is our experience.
A user needs to be over 18 years of age to use the app, which begins by taking your mobile number.
It took us a couple of minutes to start a consultation after installing the app. The app homepage displays your consultations, if any. Besides that, it lists out common consultations like with a dietician, for PCOD, and other chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. Their super specialties include cardiology, oncology, orthopaedics, and fertility.
The homepage has a tab for health records, where it saves medical history like prescriptions, lab reports, and other data. It also has notifications to remind you of upcoming consultations, medicine purchases, and to adhere to the prescription.
To start a consultation, you have to tap a button at the bottom of the app’s homepage. A user is presented with a list of health issues – common ones like headache, hypertension, weight-related or to seek a nutritionist. A user can also key in symptoms in the search bar, and go through a list of related specialist doctors.
Doctors’ profiles mention their specialties, the hospitals they work at, their experience, and academic qualifications. One downer was that there are no ratings and reviews of the doctors. So, we went ahead and chose the doctor with the maximum experience.
We chose a dietician to advise on managing a healthier diet. The next step is a fee payment, after which a chat window opens where mfine’s team of in-house doctors - the care team - assists users with the initial triage, and makes note of the symptoms and other details before presenting the case to a specialist from the doctor partner network.
For a diet-related problem, the care team asked us questions on how long had a condition been persisting, the scale, whether there was a family history of a medical condition, current medication, age, weight, height etc. The interaction lasted about 10 minutes, following which a consultation with a nutritionist was scheduled to begin in 15 minutes. In that time, the consulting doctor was provided the patient’s history.
The app experience
The chat experience with the care team was impressive. The interface is sleek, and giving history is easy. You don’t have to type much and can choose tags and fill in the required information. The chat interface allows users to send inputs with just few tabs. The app seems to have used a very sophisticated AI in its chat feature.
After the triage, the app checks the availability of the doctor and sends an appointment notification. This transition is smooth, and a patient does not need to leave the chat window, even if the doctor changes, or a care team member takes over.
The nutritionist started the chat on schedule and we received a prescription on the app after the consultation was completed. Owing to the AI, the app picked up that the doctor had suggested a few tests, and flashed a notification of lab tests on the home screen. The app also has tie-ups with labs to collect samples from the patient’s house. One can also upload diagnostic reports on the app, but we didn’t try this feature. The app takes ratings and reviews on doctors from users, even though, like we mentioned earlier, it doesn’t show any ratings.
Our consultation required a call with the doctor, and the total time the process took was 40-45 minutes, which is impressive. The company says there is also a video chat option. However, when we consulted the doctor, we didn’t find that option.
The app claims that after a consultation, a patient can choose to visit the doctor personally for a follow-up without paying any additional fee, but user reviews on Google Play store say otherwise with users saying they had to pay additional fees for a follow-up.
The app is accessible only between 7 am to 1 am, mostly because doctors give live consultations. The company’s spokesperson, however, said that the app would be functional 24/7 shortly.
We only saw doctors from Bengaluru and Hyderabad on the app but the company is looking to expand that as well. Overall, mfine claims to have about 500 doctors from over 100 reputed hospitals across 20 specialties.
We definitely recommend the app, and second what most users say on the app stores: that mfine is convenient, and doctors are accessible.
The app is available on both iOS and Android, and claims to have a total install base of 1.25 million. On Android, it has more than 10 lakh installs with 4.4 user ratings. On iOS, it is one of the top 25 medical apps with the same ratings.
We liked the entire app experience for its smooth UI, AI-enabled chat, text prompts, and prescription access. Overall, mfine is an easy-to-use consultation app, with customisable subscription plans.