This Singapore Start-up Makes Doctor’s Consultations More Convenient
MyDoc wants to make healthcare more efficient for doctors, patients, and the services that exist within it
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
The quality of healthcare in Southeast Asia may have relatively improved in the last few years, but it is still not immune to numerous gaps and inefficiencies brought on by largely manual processes and lack of standardization.
A telling example is the low rate of follow-ups after health screenings. This means that if results show that one has a higher than normal blood pressure or is at risk for diabetes, he or she does not get to speak to a doctor often because of tedious and inconvenient processes.
Who can better solve such medical industry pain points than doctors themselves?
Founded in 2012 by Dr. Snehal Patel and Dr. Vas Metupalle, Singapore-based MyDoc is a platform that allows patients to access a network of healthcare services, including doctor consultations, online prescriptions, and long-term disease management programs. Users can select, compare, and book health checks and consultations with specialists, diagnostic centers, and hospitals. They can also order medicines, as well as access their health insurance portfolio.
“We saw this as an opportunity to make a significant impact on the overall health industry by encouraging follow-ups,” CEO Patel says.
With the MyDoc app, which was launched in August 2014, patients can send a message or book a video consultation with a doctor immediately after getting test results. “This eliminates any of the confusion and makes it simpler to actually get professional help and advice,” he says. Company data shows their follow-up rates range from 65% on average, all the way up to 85% in some cases.
“We’re focused on every single area in the patient journey that we can automate, shorten, [make accessible], and even completely change if it makes it easier and more efficient,” adds Patel.
Doctors, in turn, are able to use and monetize their time efficiently, see more patients, and earn extra revenue during down periods. Using the platform, doctors can create a schedule that works for them. Other features include secure peer-to-peer messaging, care team management tools, DICOM readers (for radiology scans), and referrals.
“[W]e knew we had to create a service that was easy to use and also addressed their pain points. This is where both Dr. Vas’ and my own medical training was invaluable. We knew what doctors really wanted and what they needed,” Patel says.
Patel, 41, is no newcomer in the regional healthcare space. He was senior vice president of Singapore’s Chandler Corp. and led its investment arm in setting up a healthcare chain. Before he moved to Singapore nine years ago, Patel practiced law in New York. He has an M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from Columbia Law School. He was a Clinical Fellow at the Harvard Medical School, and was offered a Fulbright scholarship to study the Singaporean and U.S. healthcare systems.
A powerful tool to improve employee health
Though the end-users are patients themselves, MyDoc’s clients are the companies that employ them. The platform provides a comprehensive health platform to track employee well-being and health on a long-term basis. Says Patel, “Through health screenings, doctor consultations, and a variety of other services, MyDoc offers corporates a powerful tool to improve employee health, reduce sick days, improve productivity, and ultimately create a healthier working environment.”
Through its insurance services, MyDoc also offers insurance partners access to the platform that they can then offer to their policyholders. These insurer partners benefit through MyDoc’s ability to track and automate processes, thereby reducing overhead.
According to Patel, in the last 12 months alone, MyDoc has grown 10% month-on-month in terms of registered and active users, raising its user database to over 50,000. In Singapore alone, the platform attracted over 100 companies that currently use their services. They have also opened an office in Hong Kong to complement its regional network in Singapore, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka.
“The reason our platform works so well is because we put in the time to create a network of healthcare services that patients really need. We did not want to have the most number of doctors, or the largest database of professionals; we wanted a network that could best provide an excellent user experience,” Patel says.
MyDoc’s latest feature is the digital medical certificate (MC) to complement its online prescription service. Patel says they will be the first in Singapore to launch these digital MCs, as well as the first and only Health Science Authority-approved online prescription provider. The digital MC feature integrates seamlessly with the remote video consultation feature, allowing users to obtain and submit MCs without physically traveling.
Working with and not against the tide
Beyond the usual challenges of building a company in a competitive market, Patel says they face a significant hurdle many disruptive technologies face: consumer education and reluctance to adopt change.
But he says that to disrupt an industry, you need to work with instead of against it. “We looked at existing processes and instead of replacing it completely, we built services and features that made it more efficient, or automated parts of the process [to] increase adoption of our services,” he says.
For instance, he says, they work with health screening partners to automate the delivery of reports by integrating with labs, thus reducing the time to get your results. The company also partnered with big insurance companies to leverage their reach to introduce digital health to the large groups of patients across Asia.
As for the future, the company is focused on growth in their existing markets, especially Hong Kong. However, Patel says they also exploring other markets, including China, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Japan, and the Philippines.