Mumbai: Online doctor appointments booking company Lybrate Inc. on Wednesday said it has raised $10.2 million in funding from Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus Tata Sons Ltd, American investment fund Tiger Global and Nexus Venture Partners (NVP). The company had raised $1.2 million from NVP in August last year.
The company, founded by Saurabh Arora and Rahul Narang in 2013, plans to utilize funds to hire larger teams, improve existing technology and expand operations. It currently offers its services in 500 cities in India.
“Lybrate’s concept is groundbreaking and has the potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery in India and script the future of the healthcare industry with its model. The company is poised to gain ground rapidly as the penetration of Internet services and smartphones surge,” said Lee Fixel, partner, Tiger Global.
The technology solution of the company is to bridge the gap between supply of and demand for healthcare professionals. It allows patients to communicate anonymously with doctors using the mobile app or website enabling users to get the right advice at the right time.
“The option to remain anonymous is because we see a significant user engagement on the subjects related to sexual health, women’s health, psychological problems, especially depression, which makes it apparent that people want to have solutions and gain knowledge regarding these, but stay in shell out of embarrassment,” said Arora.
The company has seen a massive growth with more than 80,000 doctors from various specialties from across India and has reached out to 100,000 patients. Before bringing any doctor on its platform, Lybrate runs a background check to verify medical licences and credentials.
Users can seek multiple opinions from doctors for free on the system or start a one-on-one dialogue privately for a fee with doctors and share text, photo and voice.
“Bringing medical interactions online improves the efficiency of doctor patient interactions. Personalized rich communication via the Lybrate app unburdens doctors and allows them to focus on critical patient care and allows consumers to have expert opinions from multiple doctors. Lybrate’s exponential growth has clearly demonstrated the market need and the power of their solution,” said Sandeep Singhal of NVP.
According to Ankur Bharti, principal healthcare consultant at Pricewaterhouse Coopers India Pvt. Ltd, start-ups like Lybrate are engaged in tele-administration, which constitutes 3-5% of the total digital healthcare services market in India. “The potential for such companies is very large, with 125,000 doctors practising on their own without any digital support. The sector is in its initial phase of growth and the challenges that it will face is in terms of creating access and revenues,” Bharti said.
“The heathcare segment is extremely fragmented and mapping and listing of large number of doctors, clinic and hospital in Tier I, II and III cities and towns is a humongous task. Creating awareness for users about online health care service delivery is another challenge. Revenue models for companies are bound by large user base,” he added.
According to Pricewaterhouse Coopers data, the potential market for digital health in India is expected to reach $3 billion by 2020. The addressable market for remote healthcare in India is estimated to be Rs.8,800 crores and is expected to grow to Rs.18,000 crore by 2020.
For Tata, this is the ninth investment since 2014. In June, he made an investment in taxi aggregator Ola and joined the advisory board of Jungle Venture. Tata previously invested in Snapdeal, Paytm, Urban Ladder, Bluestone and a few other companies.