Medcords: Digitizing Medical Records for Rural India
By Sama Bég
Unlike conventional digital records, Medcords ecosystem has been designed to cater to every citizen who has a phone connection, bypassing the internet obligation, writes Sama Bég
More than 85% people in India do not have their medical records organized and at one place. 80% people living in village areas have to travel 60 kms for a doctor’s consult. The out-of-pocket expense on healthcare in India is close to 60%. The healthcare ecosystem in India is extremely fragmented. Where some individuals would see this as an uphill task, three tech gurus looked at as an exciting challenge.
After 3 years of research across 800 villages of Rajasthan, MP, UP and Bihar and 2 failed pilots, Nikhil Baheti, Saida Dhanavath and Shreyans Mehta decided to transform medical documentation for the underserved in India. The eureka moment came in 2014 when Shreyans’s father - a practicing doctor - had a major slip disc problem. Most of his patients who came for consultation were from rural areas but he wasn’t able to treat them because of his own health issues. This inspired the trio to develop a telemedicine solution for Shreyan’s father’s patients. They visited around 12 villages and then went for follow-ups and helped more than 2500 patients.
With time they realized that many well-funded companies were solving the problem of doctor discovery, telemedicine and drug delivery but were entirely focused on urban areas. Because of the extremely diverse demographics in India, they realized that a one-size-fits-all approach would never work. They also observed that a completely integrated healthcare ecosystem was not available in India. Although companies like Piramalswasthya, DoctorInsta, 1mg, Docsapp, etc. were doing great in bringing speed in the telemedicine space, a comprehensive integration was still unavailable.
The trio began developing MedCords in late 2016 and launched in May 2017 as a potential solution to the issues they observed. MedCords offers a digital repository of medical records and thereby is making healthcare accessible, affordable and efficient for all. The ecosystem has been designed to cater to every citizen who has a phone connection. People without smartphones can avail all the services through local pharmacies who use the “MedCords for Pharmacy App” where they get their health profile digitized and can also can take consultations. They have also developed a MedCords Lite app where patients can view records and tag doctors whom they want to share their records with. This is a less than 2 MB app and is designed to work in low network areas.
For doctors and hospitals, the Medcords team has a web application where healthcare practitioners can see intelligently organized historical information of each patient’s health profile that has been shared by a patient with them. This enables a patient to simply walk in paperless without having to drag their cumbersome medical folders around or risk the chance of misplacing important records or forget to share critical documents with their doctors. The Data Science Platform of Medcords securely organizes the medical data of every patient and streamlines medical information about the patient in order to help the doctor efficiently understand and tremendously reduce misdiagnosis. This even reduces the burden of the patient to tell everything to the doctor- because everything is right in front of the doctor.
Security and privacy of medical data is a critical aspect of Medcords. The application ensures every access or sharing happens with the consent of the patient. While best standards like SHA-256 bit AES encryption happen on their servers for records, they also focus on providing very granular rights on patient data. The team is also working on a full featured DIY app which will be for users who can operate it easily.
The Medcords team started with 3 cofounders back in 2017. Now they have more than 20 people on their team and 300+ sehat sathis who make people aware about digital healthcare. They have more than 5.5. lakh users who have come organically, and through word of mouth. Although they currently do not actively market their services, going forward they plan to market in rural areas through sehat sathis. They have been awarded best healthcare solution in Kota smart city by urban development minister. They are also a recipient of prestigious Bhamashah Techno fund by Government of Rajasthan.
But as is the case for any startup disrupting the norms, the road to success has not been easy for Medcords. The biggest challenges initially had been that there were no benchmarks to follow. Moreover, most of the people in rural areas either did not have smartphones or had a very limited know how of how to operate them but they were in dire need of our solution. So they had to develop a solution which was ultra-simple, and addressed to 80% of India’s population. Through teamwork, grit, staying focused on the bigger goals, the Medcords team has been able to overcome these challenges.
By the end of 2019, Medcords is planning to expand across Rajasthan and to have more than 2.5 million users on Medcords. This will also make their Data Science platform robust to determine disease-symptom relationships and identify health risk patterns in a families using Artificial Intelligence.