AlternaCare is touching thousands of lives by bridging the existing gaps in healthcare delivery system through teleconsultations with top-notch doctors in India. Abhishek Dwivedi, Founder, AlternaCare, shares how the company aims to make AlternaCare a global telemedicine bot that, over a couple of years, can fulfill every healthcare related query mainly through teleconsultations. He also explains the company’s biggest strengths and challenges to provide us useful insights into this relatively new concept. Excerpts:
How you came up with the idea of Alternacare? What is the vision behind the platform?
Since my college days, I wanted to pick an impactful domain. While in college, I chose the solar power sector to start with but later drifted towards public health. We launched the beta version of AlternaCare in April 2016 and the very first day we did four consultations. I still remember how we managed to convince the doctor to consult over the call. Initially, most of the doctors on our platform were not comfortable in providing consultations to the patients over phone, but as we grew the comfort level and the confidence in the doctors went up substantially.
Over a period of three months, we started touching 200 patients a day with more than 50 doctors in various parts of the country. Now when we are touching more than 500 patients a day, I look back and it appears that we have just begun and there is a long way to go, a lot to achieve, a lot to build and a lot to serve.
Currently, based on the healthcare requirements — be it in tertiary care or primary/secondary care — the world is divided into two extremes. The first half has less orientation towards preventive healthcare, hence more tertiary care requirement or consumption. The other half is more oriented towards preventive care, thus automatically lowering the need of curative care and further lessening the requirement or consumption of tertiary care pertaining to lifestyle diseases.
However, on the economic scale, it is the tertiary care which brings big cheques to the hospitals either from the patients’ pockets or through government or private insurers. The vision of AlternaCare is very simple — to bridge this gap while making healthcare ecosystem more robust. This is possible only by amalgamating, increasing preventive care consciousness and delivering best healthcare treatments. Doing it manually is not an option, hence automating it is the best possible solution and that is the primary vision of AlternaCare. In short, we aim to be a telehealth bot within a year or two.
“We don’t ask any patient to download any app because we are reachable through our pan India vanity number 8882644444 or on website www.alterna.care or over WhatsApp.”
How is AlternaCare different from its competitors? What is the platform’s USP?
AlternaCare is not just another marketplace for doctors, pharmaceuticals or diagnostic labs, etc where you can shop doctors or medicines or lab tests on the basis of pricing or ratings given by other users. Our algorithm runs on the hundreds of cases happening on our platform and gives each doctor ratings based on multiple factors mapped with our proprietary performance credit rating system. So, we have the best doctor for each ailment on the phone available at that given point of time.
Secondly, we don’t ask any patient to download any app because we are reachable through our pan India vanity number 8882644444 or on website www.alterna.care or over WhatsApp, etc.
We are not just in curative care (for best second opinions and treatment on the existing ailments) but in preventive care (for dos and don’ts for specific medical irregularities or in general health), too, and there comes various tech features such as health score (https://alterna.care/health-score) which determines the risk factor for various diseases based on the habits and preferences of an individual. In February 2017 we have launched a “quora for preventive health and expert opinions”, which facilitates posting of questions by the patients or health enthusiasts for top doctors to provide answers along with the fellow patients of AlternanCare. We are different because we do care!
“Our biggest strength is our organic referrals. Once the patient takes an advice from our doctors, he/she doesn’t go anywhere else. They not only consult for themselves but also refer their family members and others in their network.”
What is the current reach of the platform? How do you plan to scale it up?
Currently, we are touching over 500 patients a day, who call from various parts of the country and our referral programme is picking up rapidly. We are aiming at crossing a thousand patients per day soon.
The PPP model is in place with the UP and Rajasthan governments that would definitely help us in scaling up. Apart from this, our corporate tie-ups, listing on various marketplaces, etc, is growing with each passing day.
Our offline ATL marketing activities at the relevant places are in place and shall be bearing fruits.
Our biggest strength is our organic referrals. Once the patient takes an advice from our doctors, he/she doesn’t go anywhere else. They not only consult for themselves but also refer their family members and others in their network when there is a need.
How do you plan to utilise the VC funding you have received recently?
We are and will always be a lean company. Our main deployment of the fund shall always be in the domain of product development and automation. We are aspiring to be a global telemedicine bot that, over a couple of years, can fulfill every healthcare related query mainly through teleconsultations with top-notch doctors present globally. Hence, a major chunk of our latest funding has been deployed in developing a great product.
Apart from this, some amount is being deployed on branding to help build trust on telemedicine as a whole. The acquisition takes the least of our raised funds as mostly word of mouth and strategic tie-ups are bearing good fruits in terms of revenue of the company.
What are the key challenges you have faced till now?
Being a new concept, it was a challenge to convince the patients to talk and consult the doctor on the phone.
It was a bigger challenge to convince the doctor to prescribe and diagnose over the phone as they are accustomed to touch and feel the patients while carving out the vitals and other necessary information.
We are mostly engineers, hence, we formed an advisory board of experienced doctors and they continue to help us in recruiting and training of the doctors.
Medical compliance was also a challenge and hence we started with homeopathy then we added other specialties like allopathy, ayurveda, diet & nutrition, psychiatry and clinical psychology.