Simplifying Health Tech for India

Individuals can register themselves on the Dhani app and subscribe to the consultation service for Rs 150 per month

Simplifying Health Tech for India
Simplifying Health Tech for India
OLM Desk 09 September 2021

The pandemic has led to a spike in online medical consultations. Today we analyse Sameer Gehlaut’s Dhani Healthcare and the holistic teleconsultation services it has been providing through the pandemic. Excerpts from our interview with Nikhil Chari, President, Dhani Healthcare.

1) Shed some light on Dhani's online doctor consultation; how does it work?

Dhani Healthcare is a primary health care and pharmacy services provider with the objective of democratizing high-quality, affordable healthcare to the masses.

Within our virtual primary health care business called Dhani Doctor, we provide holistic OPD solutions to our patients, including instant video consultations with our in-house Specialists and General Practitioner doctors, door-step delivery of prescribed medicines within 1 hour of the consultation, and in-home diagnostics tests. All of this is carried out through our super-app, Dhani.

Individuals and families can register themselves on the Dhani app and subscribe to our online doctor consultation service for as low as Rs 150 per month and avail of unlimited video consultations with our doctors on a 24x7, 365 days a year basis. Patients can simply press the doctor video call button on Dhani app and within 15 seconds get connected with a doctor of their choice so there is no waiting time or appointment scheduling. Immediately post the consultation patients have the prescription available on their app and if they choose to, they can order medicines through our pharmacy at 50 per cent discounted rates as compared to their local pharmacy and we home deliver the medicines within 1 hour of the consultation so that the patients also have the solution in their hands in a timely manner. Our doctors also proactively follow up with our patients to ensure proper recovery and in a way provide family doctor support to millions of individuals and families who otherwise don’t have such support.

In terms of care delivery, we have an in-house staff of 200 doctors which comprise both specialist and general practitioner, doctors. All our doctors come from leading medical institutes with an average of 15 yrs of experience post MBBS from leading colleges and we cover more than 20 major Specialties and over 18 major vernacular languages and thereby cover all the primary care health needs of the Indian population. We have our in-house clinical excellence team to ensure all our doctors are abreast with the latest clinical protocols and government guidelines. In addition, we have our own pharmacy network in over 25 cities to provide home delivery of medicines.

2) With the rise of the teleconsultation industry, what are some key customer experience areas that you focus on with Dhani?

Well, it has always been Sameer Gehlaut’s vision to channelise all our efforts into providing our patients the right care at the right time.

In terms of timely care, our app and technology make it very simple and seamless for a patient to get connected with our doctors instantly, so there is no waiting time; and since our doctors are available 24x7, 365 days a year we make sure we are there for our patients anytime, night or day. Given our in-house pharmacy network, we ensure our patients have the prescribed medicines also with them within 1 hour of the consultation so that they are on their path to getting better in a timely manner.

In terms of the right care, we have a highly experienced staff of in-house doctors across 20 major specialties. We also invest a lot in making sure we are abreast with the latest clinical protocols, something that has held us in good stead in the ongoing pandemic; as well as we ensure incorporation of the Ministry of Health’s Telemedicine Guidelines so that the right care and guidance is given to our patients.

3) What is Dhani's key offering when it comes to teleconsultations? And how are you different from your competitors?

The key offering of our teleconsultation services are

  1. Instant availability of our General Practitioner and Specialist doctors (typically within 15 seconds) with no waiting time or appointment scheduling

  2. Availability of our doctors on a 24x7 basis for 365 days a year

  3. Home delivery of unbranded medicines prescribed by our doctors within 1 hour of consultation; medicines provided at a 50 per cent discount to market rates to make our services highly affordable to the masses

  4. Highly affordable monthly subscription plans (Rs 150 per month for individuals for unlimited monthly consultations; Rs 300 for a family of 6 for unlimited monthly consultations)

If we look at the three aspects of healthcare service delivery – namely, access of care, cost of care, and quality of care, there are a few fundamental differences from other service providers.

Firstly, in terms of timely access to care, we provide instant video connection with our doctors, night or day, without any appointment scheduling or delays. So, we ensure we are always available for our patients. In addition, we provide immediate delivery of the prescribed medicines to our patients’ homes, so they have the remedy in their hands in a timely manner.

Secondly, in terms of affordability of care, we don’t charge on a per consultation basis and instead, we have very affordable monthly subscription plans as mentioned above which provide our patients unlimited consultations. Also, we provide generic medicines at a 50% discount to branded medicines which significantly alleviates the financial burden on patients.

Finally, on the quality front, we are not a marketplace for service providers and customers, but we provide medical services in-house. This means that we take responsibility for the quality of care provided to our patients. Our in-house Clinical Excellence team ensures all our experienced doctors are abreast of the latest clinical protocols and treatment guidelines. We also take a holistic approach to providing a continuum of care to our patients through primary care consultations, diagnostic services, and pharmacy services instead of focusing predominantly on one aspect of care. This results in better patient treatment and outcomes and overall quality of care.

4) What are the most common queries you receive for doctor consultations?

We get quite a broad range of queries though, during the course of the last 12 months, some of the most common queries were related to COVID or patients concerned of symptoms common with COVID. We also get a lot of queries related to women’s health, dermatology, generalized anxiety, mental health, sexual health, and preventive health. Often, we also get cases that might initially present with an acute symptom but through our Specialist consultations, it may reveal an underlying chronic condition. Overall, it’s quite a broad spectrum reflecting our specialist capabilities.

5) Men vs Women; who do you find visiting Dhani more for teleconsultations? Do you also get good numbers from the youth?

We do get a very balanced patient mix in terms of gender. In terms of age, in general, we get a younger population between 20-40 years of age though we do get a decent number of pediatric cases as well more on the emergency side. We also get a lot of cases from smaller cities where access to specialist care may be limited.

6) What kind of health experts do you have onboard? What specialties can one find on the Dhani app?

Well, Sameer Gehlaut always rightfully wanted to have an in-house staff of ~200 doctors which comprises both Specialist and General Practitioner doctors. All our doctors come from leading medical institutes with an average of 15 yrs of experience post MBBS from leading colleges and we cover more than 20 major Specialties. Our Specialties include all the major areas such as Hypertension & Cardiac Care, Diabetes Care, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Gynaecology & Women’s Health, Paediatrics, Orthopaedics, Psychiatry, and Mental Health, ENT as well as some of the holistic fields such as Family Medicine and Diet & Nutrition.

7) Dhani is also in the pharmacy business now which is a seamless extension to your teleconsultation offering; has that helped you in scaling up? What are your next steps?

Our objective is to provide affordable, timely, and high-quality Primary Health Services to the Indian masses, so definitely pharmacy services also fit well with this objective and are helping us scale our business well. In the near term, we’re focused on continuing to scale up our Virtual Primary Health and Pharmacy Services offerings.

8) How has the pandemic affected your business?

The pandemic has certainly helped in the rapid adoption of our digital healthcare services. Credit goes to the Government of India for proactively and quickly formulating the framework for digital administration of healthcare through its Telemedicine Guidelines at the outset of the pandemic, which enabled remote delivery of care. The pandemic has also encouraged customers and patients to explore digital solutions and for doctors to adopt digital administration of care, and I think all have been pleasantly surprised how efficient and effective this medium is as first point-of-contact triage care as well as for following up care monitoring. So in that manner, it has been shown to complement well physical visits and inpatient care.

It is also encouraging that the government is taking further steps in developing training and certification programs for healthcare professionals regarding remote delivery of care. This will further help to mature the quality of care delivered through telemedicine and will lead to further patient adoption.

9) How do you balance online doctor consultations with private patients of your doctors?

Our private patients' solution is a digital clinic management solution for independent doctors so it has no interaction with our doctor consultation service. All the patient information is kept strictly within that doctor’s practice domain and we just provide our platform as a service facilitating consultations and payment transactions.

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