Coronavirus: This healthtech startup is bringing essentials from medicines to ambulances to your doorstep
The coronavirus outbreak has made businesses across the world rethink, rebuild, and reinvent. Almost overnight, new strategies have been chalked out, new operational models implemented, new services launched, new customers reached, and so on.
For omnichannel healthtech startup Medicalwale.com, it has been no different.
The Mumbai-based startup, founded in 2017, served as a bridge between medical suppliers, distributors, and pharmacies — both offline and online — until now. It operated primarily on a B2B model, with only a segment of its business directly facing end consumers.
Through its med-commerce platform, users can shop from a wide selection of wellness, fitness, beauty, and health products. But when it came to everyday and emergency medicines, it wouldn’t let users place orders directly.
That is, until a few weeks ago when things changed.
Improving access to medical supplies
As India went into lockdown, Medicalwale.com piloted ‘Night Owls’ – a 24X7 service for the doorstep delivery of medicines and health essentials.
The startup tied up with over 5,000 local pharmacies to launch medicine deliveries in Mumbai and its vicinity. Night Owls might even roll out in Pune, but Mumbai remains its focus.
As pharmacies and online medicine deliveries remain badly hit due to supply chain disruptions, Medicalwale.com wants to improve the average citizen’s access to essential medical supplies in these challenging times.
Founder Obaid Abdul Aziz tells YourStory,
“Access to medicines 24X7 is a basic right of all citizens as a medical emergency can never be predetermined. But after the lockdown, deliveries by our associated partners 1mg, Medlife, and others were hit because they didn’t have the staff or delivery executives available. That is when we decided to launch our own service, which is available at your doorstep at any hour.”
Medicalwale.com’s focus right now is to get “periodic medicines” delivered. These are usually requirements of senior citizens with pre-diagnosed illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac issues, etc., which are bulk orders, and not placed on an emergency basis.
“People don’t need these medicines within half an hour. It is not the Zomato model,” Obaid explains, “These are usually planned purchases for two to three months. We are connecting these end users to our suppliers and distributors," he says.
The startup is also in talks with government-approved test-kit suppliers, and plans to improve the supply of COVID-19 kits to hospitals and medical facilities.
On the consumer side, Medicalwale.com is getting into the production of ‘MSG’: Masks, Sanitisers, Gloves – the holy troika for COVID-19 care. It is also planning to launch one-rupee sanitisers to increase people's access to the newly ‘essential’ product.
Obaid says, “COVID-19 vaccines would be coming in a year. Hence, prevention has become a necessity. We want to provide masks and sanitisers at government-capped prices to every doorstep. We will be distributing MSG kits to households; there is a need to bring about a change in consumer behaviour.”
Other COVID-19 related services
As public health advisories urge citizens to stay indoors and reschedule their trips to the hospital unless absolutely necessary, Medicalwale.com has launched online doctor consultations. Users can get their health-related queries addressed for free.
There are trained medical experts to talk about coronavirus-related concerns too. The platform is also providing real-time symptom checkers to patients.
Based on directives from the World Health Organisation, it has built an AI Autobot, which lets users pre-diagnose themselves and understand if they should get themselves tested for COVID-19 or not.
The platform also directs patients to government-approved labs and testing facilities, and supplies coronavirus-related information and alerts.
The founder shares, “With the outbreak of this pandemic, hordes of people are worried about their health and mistaking other symptoms as signs of coronavirus. To help them get professional consultations, patients can now connect with our panel of qualified doctors over a video call or chat to get free advice instantly.”
Medicalwale.com recently launched ambulance bookings on its app. The service is available only in Mumbai – India’s worst-hit city with over 1,500 active coronavirus cases. “The service is like Uber, but you don’t have to wait 15 minutes for an ambulance,” says Obaid.
Coronavirus: Operations before and beyond
When Medicalwale.com started in 2017, its purpose was to eliminate counterfeit medicines and improve transparency in the entire value chain from supply and distribution to sale. Users could track the entire journey of medicines on the app.
They could also look up reviews and ratings for products, educate themselves about health issues through verified content, videos, and blogs, and discover services like hospitals, diagnostic labs, spas, fitness centres, blood banks, pharmacies, nurse attendants, etc.
Post coronavirus, which is undoubtedly a watershed moment for the global healthcare industry, Medicalwale.com – like many others – is revising its business outlook. Its focus on B2C verticals is on the rise. After all, that is where the crunch is most intensely felt in times of a pandemic.
The bootstrapped startup continues to build a proprietary software for healthcare professionals. With its subscription-based app, doctors can manage consultancies, bookings, patient records, case studies, business networking, and more.
Obaid reveals, “IP has been the main source of our growth. We also plan to license our subscription-based software globally like Microsoft."
It took Medicalwale.com more than two years to build its proprietary technology until the commercial launch in September 2019. Since then, the startup claims to have grown 3x month on month. It reportedly clocks annual revenue of about $12.4 million, and has supplier tie-ups with over 45,000 medical stores across India.
Now, with newer business verticals opening up after the coronavirus crisis, Medicalwale.com expects to grow faster.
But, pandemic or not, its mission of providing “innovative technologies, appropriate products and efficient services” at consumers' fingertips remains the same.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta