1mg: Building tomorrow’s digital healthcare model today

The digital platform 1mg created to improve the patient experience in India has turned out to be the healthcare model fo the hour right now – and the way forward in the post COVID world.

Shailesh Lakhani

Published April 29, 2020

Talk about an idea whose time has come.

Prashant Tandon and Gaurav Agarwal spent five years growing 1mg into an integrated patient-centric digital health platform. Their vision: to make healthcare in India more accessible, understandable and affordable.

The problem they initially set out to solve was centred on patient experience. They started with prescription drug purchases, where prices are opaque and often inflated. But it quickly became clear they had a large opportunity to redesign India’s hyper-fragmented healthcare system, which is plagued by numerous pain points that leave the patient underinformed in the decision-making process. 1mg’s broad organic pull enabled them to expand into an end to end platform designed to solve the needs of a patient more comprehensively.

With a few clicks on the 1mg app today, a patient can find relevant healthcare content, consult a doctor online, arrange for a lab tech to visit their home to take samples for diagnostics, and fill their doctor’s prescription with assurance of quality. After solving the issue for individual patients, they expanded the scope to serve the patients through multiple stakeholders of healthcare – hospitals, insurance and pharma. For partner hospitals, they created a “Smart Hospital” outpatient concept for institutions that helps them monitor, treat and serve patients building a lifecycle-based relationship once the patient has checked out.

The digital platform 1mg created to improve the patient experience has turned out to be the healthcare model of the hour right now – and the way forward in the post COVID world.

1mg has seen a 440% jump in Telemedicine queries, over 350 million-page views and nearly an 80% increase in new app downloads in recent weeks. Over 20% of the daily orders for medicine are come from patients on their Integrated Health Care Plan, a subscription offering which covers pharmacy, diagnostics and consultations.

They have worked closely with the government on COVID-19, creating an industry collective for telemedicine, launching a contact tracing app and supporting the local administration of Gurugram to deploy COVID-19 helplines and testing. Their COVID content has generated millions of views.

COVID-19 has given a wake-up call to the health care industry, which has lagged most others in the race to go digital. The 1mg team is now fielding SOS calls from clinics and hospital groups that want to deploy telemedicine solutions at scale. Insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers are reaching out with new requirements and new requests, such as home vaccinations or direct to patient deliveries.

The Indian government, meanwhile, has deemed e-pharmacies as an essential service and issued guidelines, for the first time, on Telemedicine, cementing the place of both products into the universe of healthcare services and making them a part of the healthcare service delivery architecture of the country

In a recent email, Prashant wrote that “the way we live, the way we work, the way we engage with everything around us and the way we look at life itself is going through an important shift.”

Nobody knows how long this health crisis will last. And nobody knows what the new normal will look like, two or three years from now. But it will be different to today. The idea that a sick person shouldn’t have to go looking for healthcare, and vulnerable people should stay away from high-risk areas where infections could spread, will remain even once this crisis subsides.

When we first met Prashant and Gaurav over five years ago, we were impressed with their strong customer-centric focus and inspired by their vision to make health care more accessible to India’s increasingly wired population. COVID-19 is accelerating a fundamental shift in this critical sector; and we’re grateful that they are playing a small part building infrastructure that will help India better handle this crisis.