According to World Bank, Pakistan spends only 2.6% on health care out of the total GDP. The local health care infrastructure is under developed especially in rural areas. Whilst in urban areas, private hospitals are minting money and their services are not in affordable reach of an average Pakistani. In the last two years, Pakistan has seen a boom in healthcare startups. To tap the potential of the local tech healthcare sector, an international venture RingMD is entering the local market.
RingMD is a multinational tech healthcare venture based out of Singapore. Launched in 2012, the venture has successfully secured investments and expanded into Asian countries with developing economies like Hong Kong, Philippines, China, Thailand, and India. The company has also launched its operations in US and Turkey. In 2015, the venture launched in Pakistan with an aim to cater the local healthcare industry.
What is RingMD?
RingMD is a healthcare marketplace that connects doctors with patients for affordable and quality health care consultation. The platform has features that manage clinical practice workflow for doctors, and help patients to digitally manage their medical records. The system is 100% HIPPA compliant and follow the utmost security encryption and health care protocols to protect a secure and private channel for communication that no else has access to. Being HIPPA compliant, is a major requirement for any healthcare software in US and European countries.
Once patients are registered, they can request for consultation through video-conferencing or secure messaging, selecting from a range of doctors. If users need consultation, they can define three time zones and the doctors available in the particular time zones will respond to their queries. The platform does not only enable patients to seamlessly consult with doctors, but it has also created an ecosystem for doctors to connect with each other. The Q/A feature of the platform let doctors to interact with each and seek advice. For instance, senior doctors can share their experiences with young physicians to help them better their diagnosis and consultation.
Previously, a number of psychiatrists and psychologists were making use of Skype for consulting with their patients. With RingMD, they have the advantage of managing their complete information in terms of their practice hours, patients’ history and records, and their finances.
RingMD was launched in India last year and produced promising results for the healthcare venture. RingMD decided to venture in Pakistan by observing similar demographics as the neighboring country. Both countries were evident to not have adequate health facilities, specifically the rural areas which lack health care infrastructure. Distrust with doctors and potential market in the health sector has driven the venture to arrive in Pakistan. RingMD does rigorous profile checks of every doctor that joins their panel to ensure no bogus doctor enters their system.
At the end of 2015, RingMD initiated its soft launch focusing on marketing and strategic development of the venture in Pakistan. Initially facing some hurdles, RingMD has now regained its momentum and is actively creating awareness about their services.
When asked about introducing localized features in the app specific for Pakistan, the Country Manager, Hassan Chattah shared:
“For each country, RingMD operates in they introduce localized features for their app. For instance, we have integrated local payment methods for India and the marketing is being done in their regional language. Moreover, we collaborate with international hospitals to bring the expertise a particular country lacks. Similarly, we have integrated EasyPaisa as a payment mode for Pakistan and our marketing will soon be done in local language to tap all demographics of local population.”
Consultation Levels & Payment Model
The users can pay for the consultation services through credit and debit cards. Knowing that a lot of local users do not prefer online transactions through credit cards and are reluctant to share their information, therefore the platform has also integrated EasyPaisa.
RingMD charges 5 – 20% of the consultation fee depending on the consultation level of the patient. The consultation fee is as low as Rs. 300 and ranges over to Rs. 20,000 depending upon the type of consultation and the experience of the doctors. The average fee is Rs. 1500 – 2000. These charges depend on three levels that depend on the consultation’s time period:
- Level 1: Under 10 minutes
- Level 2: Between 10-30 minutes
- Level 3: Over 30 minutes
The Q/A feature for doctors to interact with each other works free of cost.
The platform has a network of over 6000 doctors from across the world. More than 100 doctors have also signed up from Pakistan in just a month. The weekly average of Pakistani users on the website falls in the bracket of 1000-2000 users. The venture gets the highest number of users through its website, followed by iOS app and then the Android app.
70-80% of the users are post-op patients that require consultancy with surgeons. Moreover, a huge chunk of psychiatrist and psychologists are using the system for tele-psychiatry.
Local Competition and Future Plans
Acknowledging the presence of local startups, RingMD knows there is no local platform that offers complete consultation services of doctors. Especially, of international doctors. Most of the local apps are focusing on scheduling and managing appointment of doctors. Whilst, RingMD is proving to be an Uber for healthcare.
RingMD is ambitious to create employment opportunities in the local health care sector. They are tapping the potential of medical reps, fresh graduates and also senior doctors. They believe, it is their utmost responsibility to create an ecosystem for tech healthcare in the country, therefore they will be collaborating with hospitals and organizing symposiums, workshops and seminars to create awareness about their platform and health care in general. RingMD has been the most successful in India, with government funding over 60% of their venture. RingMD is also tapping the Pakistani Government for collaboration avenues with international hospitals to introduce international health care services in Pakistan.