Startup augmenting access to quality health care

Updated 17 Nov 2019


CEO Hyder Mumtaz eyes a piece of country’s billion-dollar healthcare market by making doctors 
more accessible.
CEO Hyder Mumtaz eyes a piece of country’s billion-dollar healthcare market by making doctors more accessible.

The state of healthcare in Pakistan is not hidden from anyone. Whether it’s the daily deaths caused by the most trivial diseases or the extremely low doctor-to-patients ratio, things are in a scary shape as successive governments did little to ameliorate the situation. And that has created an influx of emerging companies, including a startup from Lahore that wants to make health more accessible through the use of tech.

AugmentCare is trying to address every end of the healthcare spectrum by bringing all stakeholders on a single portal. Be it offering online consultations with medicos or software for doctors to digitise their clinics, these guys want to do it all.

The process is pretty simple: download the app, register with your number and then choose from the services available on your home page. From instant doctor that connects you with a practitioner right there and the list of available medicos to ordering a lab test or shopping for medicines, there are four tabs to pick from.

While lab tests or drugs can be added to a cart like any e-commerce app, seeking an online consultation requires buying a subscription package. The individual monthly bundle is worth Rs500 and has unlimited consultations while the family one costs Rs1,000.

At the moment, only bank cards are accepted as a payment method but the startup is now adding digital wallets, with JazzCash expected to go live in a few weeks.

There is also a dashboard where you can add family members look at appointment history, lab reports and view their records, all in a single place.

And that’s just the consumer side of the business: AugmentCare also has solutions for the B2B segment, offering a clinic management software (CMS) to doctors as well as automation of corporates’ health coverage of their employees. They are also partnering up with health insurance companies to create innovative products and increase their subscriber base.

Where does their supply come from though? “We have a network of qualified doctors, with average experience of 22 years, who are independent contractors and give a certain number of hours every day. But at the moment, we exercise control over supply so not anyone can sign up like that,” CEO Hyder Mumtaz clarifies.

AugmentCare was launched in July 2017 by Mumtaz who had been working within the health tech space in the Middle East before that. “I lost my brother at a very young age to leukemia so there was a strong sense of personal loss which prompted me to do something in this sector. Also my family has been involved in this business since 1947,” he says, referring to the famed Fazal Din Group of Lahore that has a noticeable presence in pharma industry.

The startup has a number of revenue streams including monthly subscription charges of Rs5,000 from the clinic management software, packages for online consultations as well as income from corporate clients.

As for funding, they have already bagged a seed round and are now eyeing a Series A by first quarter of next year, with money to be channelled towards consultations and expanding the adoption of CMS.

Perhaps not as well-funded and attractive as transport and logistics, but Pakistan’s health tech is a fairly active space with quite a few players trying to address different aspects of the value chain. Where primarily helps people discover and book doctors through its portal, aims to simplify buying of medicines.

Then there is, Webdoc and Sehat Kahani each approaching the problem in its own way. But by and large, there is a considerable overlap with most trying their luck at more than one thing, especially lab tests and some form of online consultations.

What is AugmentCare’s plan to navigate this sector and how do they stack up against others? “Our strength is in the electronic medical record technology which helps us analyse all consultations as well as enabling anyone to connect to do a doctor over video within minutes, not just insurance or a community of customers only,” the CEO explains.

Where Sehat Kahani’s strength is in their offline presence through e-health clinics across the country and its non-profit approach approach, Marham leverages its online community quite well and does bookings. Meanwhile, Webdoc primarily focuses on phone calls rather than video appointments.

AugmentCare’s analysis estimates the overall health sector to be worth $12 billion, with almost half of it accounted by out-of-pocket expenditure - the startup’s primary focus for now. Managing to get even a tiny piece of that pie means a multi-million dollar company.

The writer is member of staff:

Twitter: @MutaherKhan

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2019