Vikram Bhardwaj and Ekansh Tiwari’s startup Menias, a Hot 100: Race to Grace winner, is looking to change the way patient-doctor interactions work. By Pooja Paryani
Menias’ goal is one that seems like a tall order—to make healthcare services available to all, in a way that’s stress-free and makes the person feel in charge of their health. But the duo behind the startup, Ekansh Tiwari and Vikram Bhardwaj, are optimistic and believe that they can deliver. The mobile healthcare platform (www.menias.com) isn’t up and running yet, and the duo is still busy creating a database of doctors, healthcare professionals, procedures, conditions, diagnoses, and health symptoms. This is what users can tap into to make better, more educated decisions about their health. The duo is currently concentrating their efforts in the Delhi NCR area.
While Ekansh, a technology and start up enthusiast, drives the company’s vision, product strategy and architecture, Vikram, a marketing expert, is the brain behind the branding and outreach strategy.
The idea behind the startup
“We started planning for Menias after seeing the dilemma people go through during a medical emergency,” says Vikram. “My mother was diagnosed with cancer and I ran around trying to find the best doctors. I admitted her in one hospital, but despite all the tests, etc the doctor wasn’t able to give us a satisfactory answer. So we shifted to another hospital, and had to do the tests all over again as they wouldn’t accept the earlier tests done at the other hospital. We went through three hospitals like this. The worst part about the Indian healthcare system is that doctors aren’t ready to talk to each other and share their diagnosis. They don’t want to address patients’ questions either. Finally my mother was so ill and tired of it all that she asked to go home, and she passed away. This made me realise the illogical issues in the healthcare system.
“Also people traditionally consult doctors who have been recommended by close friends or family members. They usually don’t check the doctor’s expertise, specialisation or experience. So we decided to address this problem through a portal and an application. People can use our portal to connect with doctors for an online consultation, share reports and take second opinions. We’ve been working on it for more than a year and we’re going to launch the beta version of the same in September.
“The ability to contact doctors as and when you need them at just the click of a button is what makes Menias unique,” says Vikram. “You can also do a video chat, and depending on the severity and the doctor’s suggestion you can later go and visit the doctor in person. You also have the option of sharing you reports with more than one doctor online, and they’re shared on the cloud, so they’re saved there forever.”
How it works
“A person has to login on www.menias.com and create an ID. They can then search for a doctor, send a request and get connected. You can have a conversation, share reports and get a prescription, if needed. The payment is done online through wallets, credit cards, debit cards or even net banking. If you’re consulting more than one doctor at a time, the two doctors can also communicate with each other. On the website there is a different section for patients and another one for doctors to communicate with each other.”
“Our fee is built into the doctor’s fee along with taxes. So it’s a one-time payment. One payment enables the user to have three conversations, that are each 15-minutes long, with the doctor. The user can also send the doctor queries through messages and the doctor will reply as and when he is free.”
“Currently we have 1,600 doctors registered in our database. We are only limited to Delhi NCR region for now. The doctors are still getting familiar with it so it will take a little more time to be on track completely as they are used to doing their business in a fixed way and we are asking for a big change. They also have to take time out of their day to consult the patients on our portal (there will be a symbol that pops up when a doctor is available online). We have kept a minimum of three years for experience for doctors who want to register. The rest depends on patient reviews and their performance.”
“Getting doctors on board is very difficult as mentioned earlier. They also want us to send the patients to their clinic, which defeats the purpose of the portal. Then there’s the lack of Internet connectivity. There are many places where even 3G connectivity is not there, so awareness among doctors needs to be created. So once the product is ready we will be meeting doctors personally and showing them the technology, guiding them on how to use it, how will they receive payments and see if they accept the offer. Funding was another challenge, but we’ve finally got some small seed funding and we are ready to hit the market soon.”
Plans for the way ahead
“We plan to increase the number of doctors registered on our portal. We also have plans to register pathological labs and pharmacists. If you cannot find a particular drug we’ll give you the information for an alternative from the pharmacist and get the medicines delivered to your doorstep. We’ll also help users get tests done and upload their reports online. So all their medical needs will be service under one roof. We’re also looking to expand our reach to other cities.”