As the world continues to grapple with coronavirus, it has highlighted the underlying challenges that Indian healthcare was facing for a long time. Plagued by accessibility and affordability, Indian healthcare has attracted the attention of the government after the rapid spread of the pandemic, that this year’s union budget 2021- 22 has allocated 2.23 lakh crore to the healthcare sector which is a 137 percent increase from 2020.As per the economic survey of 2019-2020, the doctor to population ratio in India is 1:1456 that is incredibly low against WHO’s recommended ratio of 1:1000. The ratio itself reflects that the Indian healthcare system is flawed, hence it is imperative to deploy advanced technologies such as AI, ML to provide holistic care and precise diagnosis to the patients. Disruptions in healthcare such as online medicine delivery, digital disease management, e-healthcare records will soon gain ground. Deploying technology in healthcare which was yet nascent in India, received a shot in the arms due to the pandemic. As per an IBEF report, the healthcare sector in India is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country that is expected to reach $372 billion by 2022. Founded in 2012 by Prashant Tandon, Gaurav Agarwal, and Vikas Chauhan, 1mg is an online healthcare platform coupled with the capabilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver excellent and affordable healthcare-related services.
What 1mg is doing?
Initially, 1mg began by the name HealthKart Plus was a content platform to provide information on medicine side effects, substitutes, and a platform to compare prices of the product. But soon the founders realized the skewed ratio of doctor to patient. Besides the ratio, they realized there is no such platform where people can have consolidated information on the medicines and various lab tests. Hence, their sole motive became to democratise healthcare and create authentic, transparent, and accessible information for the people. In 2015, HealthKart Plus was renamed and rebranded as 1mg.
Its Business Model
Apart from selling medicines on its platform, 1mg’s business model consists of tie-ups with several licensed pharmacies, accredited diagnostic labs, and registered doctors and medical professionals. Customers visiting the 1mg website can book lab tests from a variety of lab testing centres at affordable rates and can book for doctor’s consultation with over 22 specialties. 1mg acts here as a facilitator between a buyer and seller. It earns revenue from the online transactions that the customers make for pharmacy and diagnostics.
1mg deploying Technology in Healthcare
The doctors’ prescription is at times hard to understand. For purchasing medicines on 1mg a customer needs to upload the doctor’s prescription. 1mg leverages the AI/ML technology to create a unified health repository to get a complete insight into an individual’s health. The consolidated health repository can be used to create longitudinal health data and disease progression models for chronic conditions
The handwritten format of the prescription is non-readable by computer. To make it standardized various AI models convert the incoming data into computer-readable and standardised data sets. The digital prescription image made using image processing and semi-automated digitisation is codified by the pharmacist to understand the medicine name.
Accurate Order delivery
Since it is about the delivery of medicines concerning health it cannot be compromised. To resolve bottlenecks in order fulfillment and cancellations, the order delivery is powered by a time prediction engine. The engine is backed by deep learning algorithms that are responsible for inducing high faith and trust and precise estimated time of arrival for any order fulfillment. The company considers long-term data of backlogs in packing and logistics delays to predict accurate time prediction.
The winning strategy of 1mg is its implementation of state-of-the-art collaborative filtering and transformer models to build its recommendation engine. It uses algorithms like Meta Prod2Vec to build user and item embeddings, which are utilised in neural collaborative filtering and models like BERT, GPT-2. It offers better product recommendations to the customers and improves click-through rate and sales.
As per the AppTweak data, 1mg received downloads worth 184.2 K between 1st Jan 2021 to 10th Feb 2021.
With major conglomerates like Reliance Industries foraying into e-pharmacy by acquiring a 60 percent stake in Netmeds, TATA is in talks to acquire a major stake in 1mg.
1mg is also bringing coronavirus vaccine to people’s doorstep by charging a nominal fee.