Imagine you are stuck in traffic and you have a doctor’s appointment. You have either missed it and are going to have to reschedule or just see another doctor. It is these kind of bumps that mfine aims to conquer, through their app, with a back-end system that runs on Artificial Intelligence.
The app has tie-ups with about 375 doctors, 80 hospitals, across 20 specialisations, with on-ground services in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, and Delhi. You log in and put in the symptoms. This will lead you to the doctors’ listing page, where you can opt for a particular specialist, if you like. This choice may depend on experience, testimonials, and place of operation (in case you need offline help). The idea is to put you in touch with a doctor in a minute. If you are unsure though, the system will assign a specialist to you.
Alternatively, you may be very specific about which doctor you’d like to see, especially if you’re coming back to check about something. “Most often, you’ll get connected within 30 to 40 minutes,” says Ajit Narayanan, a co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer, based out of Bengaluru. “The whole idea is that you access care when you need it,” he says. Once you enter the symptoms or even return with a doubt, the query goes to a ‘care team’ of doctors that looks at it before a senior specialist does.
You get an appointment and pay up — every service is payable, and every interaction is seen as a consultation, though follow-up treatment within a week, whether online or offline (if you choose to visit the doctor at his location) is not charged.
Prescriptions may be given, even conditions diagnosed, unless the doctor feels he needs to see you. Dosages may be tweaked, uncomfortable questions answered, and a second opinion offered. “It’s better than Dr Google, because you can reach a doctor just to clarify what to do for a headache, rather than popping pills or assuming you have a particular problem,” says Dr Manjula Anagani, Managing Director and Chief Gynaecologist, MaxCure Suyosha Hospital, Hyderabad, who is one the senior-most doctors on the app. Gynaecology, dermatology, and general medicine are the three specialisations that see the most traction.
If the doctor asks you to take a test or some medication, the system will remind you to do so. You can then upload the reports. Past medical records too can be uploaded, so it is all consolidated.
There is now a medicine delivery service in Bengaluru and Hyderabad (they deliver within 60 minutes), as well as a lab-test service that ensures someone comes home.
The app runs on artificial intelligence (AI), which means that it is learning as it goes along. For starters, when the app went live in December 2017, data was fed in from publicly-available medical literature. There was some tweaking to incorporate customisation with doctors’ inputs. Then, as conversations are had, prescriptions made, and more medical research fed into the system, the system keeps evolving. “The quality (of advice) improves, because the knowledge is built up,” says Ajit.
So when you key in your symptoms, say cold, sore throat, low-grade fever, the AI system will auto-suggest to the care team what the possibilities are. This ensures that human error is minimised.
“In a month or so, the system will be able to read and capture information from lab reports,” says Ajit. There will be a photo snippet of the key findings, in case the doctor wants to refer to it. The company is also working on the system’s ability to ‘read’ X-rays as well.
All this cuts down on commute time to the doctor and cost per doctor visit. The app generally charges ₹450 for a consultation, which may be what you pay when you make an in-person visit in Hyderabad and Bengaluru; if you’re accessing it from say, Delhi, it is a huge difference. You can also subscribe at ₹2,000 for six months, for upto six family members.
It also helps bust myths during pregnancy (women can reach out to the doctor without a family member). Baby- and child-related doubts can be quickly addressed, especially if you don’t have a paediatrician who is easily available.