A New Delhi startup company called Lybrate, at just a year and a half old, recently announced that it raised a substantial $10.2 million in funding.
For U.S. startup companies in the tech industry, this funding may not seem like much. But for Lybrate, and for the millions of Indian people it could serve, $10.2 million is enough to create a mobile app powerful enough to save lives.
The app itself is a mashup of informal communication, similar to what you might find on a free social media website, and professional medical opinions coming from legitimate doctors and medical experts across the country. The app is open for doctors to join — for free — and TechCrunch and Business Standard both report that Lybrate claims to have 80,000 doctors already connected to the service.
International Business Times explains that the app primarily helps Indian patients find doctors — which is certainly a useful aspect of the app for millions of Indians living in rural areas with limited connections to the medical community.
But perhaps more importantly, the app also allows patients to talk anonymously with medical professionals through a secure platform when they’re seeking second opinions, and they can also schedule phone or video calls with doctors through the service (for a fee).
This particular aspect of Lybrate’s service is likely to be an invaluable resource for India, considering that many of the most serious — and the most preventable — medical conditions are still too taboo to discuss openly and in person.
A U.S. study recently found that telepsychiatry appointments were far less likely to be cancelled or result in a no-show, compared to appointments in a brick-and-mortar office building; the rate of no-shows were 4.2% and 7.8%, respectively.
Health experts have every reason to believe that the same trends will appear in India with legitimate medical apps that promise anonymity and secure digital communication — and perhaps the results will be even more astounding, since many Indians don’t even reach out to make the appointment in the first place.
It may take a while to see the full effects of medical app services like Lybrate, but it’s very likely that the app will change India’s healthcare industry for the better.