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TMCNet:  More Indians using healthcare apps on smartphones [Computing] [Times of India]

[December 20, 2012]

More Indians using healthcare apps on smartphones [Computing] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BANGALORE: More Indians are turning to the ubiquitous mobile phone for quick advice on how to treat common aches and pains, as scores of new utility applications are developed for smartphones across the country. From migraine to toothache to the best options on plastic surgery, consumers are downloading specialised apps that offer advice on demand from qualified doctors.


Struck by a bout of migraine recently, 23-year-old Natasha Menon downloaded an application for her Android phone from a Bangalore-based company Healthcare Magic instead of visiting a neighbourhood doctor. "I could get a doctors advice in just a couple of hours, a hospital visit would have taken longer for sure," says Menon, who is a Bangalore-based content writer.

As more consumers such as Menon turn to their phones for advice, it is creating a growing market for startups developing such applications. This year, the mobile apps industry in India is estimated to grow to Rs 1,804 crore, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

Healthcare Magic started three years ago with a web-based healthcare advisory service, where users could post disease related queries, choose a doctor they wanted and get advice on possible treatments. Six months ago, the company founded by former IBM employee Kunal Sinha unveiled a free Android app and now plans to launch an iPhone app by Christmas.

Sinha estimates that his company draws over 65,000 daily users, with nearly a quarter of them accessing healthcare services on a mobile phone. The company's mobile app has seen ten thousand downloads on the Android store and will soon be launched in overseas markets. "This technology is aimed at people who do not find time to visit hospitals.

The mobile app is great for a user who wants advice on toothache at 11 pm," he said.

In Mumbai, facial plastic surgeons Debraj Shome and Arbinder Singal have launched Mediangels, a healthcare-technology firm where people share photographs, videos and documents related to their health. They are planning to launch an app to access these facilities. "It's a lot more convenient to connect on a virtual platform, when everyone has less and less time," says Shome.

The startup, which has revenues of Rs 1 crore, currently charges between Rs 250-5,000 for consultation with doctors around the world and has built up a client base of 10,000. This brisk growth is attracting investor attention as these ventures are seen as solutions to lack of quality healthcare in smaller towns and cities. "We are excited about these ventures. There are about 8 to 10 companies in this space now," said Rajesh Raju, managing director of Bangalore-based venture capital firm Kalaari Capital.

Hyderabad's eHealth Access, which provides web-based healthcare services to companies such as HCL and Hartex, is currently testing an Android-based mobile health application that is expected to be launched next month. India has 59 doctors for every thousand people, the lowest among emerging economies , according to consulting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

However, the country ranks second highest in adopting mobile healthcare services. "The advantage is that apps and web services simply the whole process. It's a young space as of now, but there is a huge opportunity for startups," says Akhilesh Tuteja, executive director at KPMG.

(c) 2012 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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