We aim to make quality primary healthcare accessible in India at an affordable price


Manasije Mishra, MD, Indian Health Organisation & Aetna India, elaborates on how vHealth, an integrated primary care ecosystem, can play a crucial role in improving healthcare delivery

How did the concept of vHealth by Aetna evolve? Why did you chose to introduce it first in India and in which other countries it will be launched?

Aetna has chosen India as the first market to launch vHealth by Aetna, a global digital primary care service. The concept of vHealth by Aetna evolved from the analysis of the healthcare systems across the globe. Very few emerging economies have a robust primary healthcare system. With vHealth, we aim to make quality primary healthcare accessible in India at an affordable price. Tele-consultation is a relatively new concept in India. While there are a few players who have entered this market space, there is a huge scope for vHealth to thrive. The pattern shows that Indian audience only leverages these services in case of emergencies which is inappropriate.

After the successful launch in India, vHealth by Aetna will be introduced in other global markets like Singapore, the UK and the UAE. India will be the global centre of excellence for our subsequent launches in international markets.

Can you throw more light on vHealth by Aetna model and how it works?

vHealth is an integrated primary care ecosystem that provides unlimited tele-consultation for a family of four members and access to our discount medical partner network for a modest price of Rs 2400 per year. With this membership, our members can consult vHealth doctors for any health concern in the family. The vHealth doctors will spend time to fully understand the patient’s medical and social history and the presenting symptoms. In about 70 per cent of the cases they are able to make a firm diagnosis and prescribe medication. They also issue a detailed care plan. In case, further diagnostics or specialist consultations are required, our team can support the patient by making appointments for physical consultation with specialists, coordinate diagnostic services and medicine delivery at their doorstep, all this at up to 30 per cent discounted fee. Our vhealth team also follows up to ensure that the patient gets proper support  throughout the journey of the disease.

Our in-house doctors are well trained and certified for tele-consultation and follow robust evidence-based scientific clinical protocols and follow-up mechanisms to deliver quality care. By using vHealth as the first point of contact for any health concern/ query, our members can potentially avoid over 50 per cent of physical consultations and get appropriate guidance and motivation to navigate through the complex healthcare system. The service is available through our toll-free number and video consultation through our mobile app, vHealth by Aetna.

Do you think it is possible to have four million members by 2020, if yes how?

Lack of access to a robust primary healthcare system, increasing out of pocket medical costs and poor doctor to patient ratio are some of the key challenges in the Indian healthcare sector. As a result, the disease burden of the country is increasing. The challenge can be tackled better by bringing quality digital primary healthcare system within reach. India has 432 million mobile users with over 76 per cent of people using the mobile Internet. Availability of high-speed 3G and 4G connectivity are driving the usage of apps and videos. We are confident that we will be able to accelerate growth and achieve the four million member target by 2020. As of now, our user base is nearly six lakh and we intend to add one million members by March 2018.

Which customised technological and health management solutions are in the pipeline?

Our product pipeline looks strong and we will launch two new products in 2017. In association with our global partners, these products will focus on chronic disease management and preventive health.

Tell us more about your partnership with What is so unique about Swiss telemedicine standards?

While digital primary care is still evolving in India, we see this at an advanced level in Europe. Medgate in Switzerland with its experience of over 15 years in telemedicine and two million consults have developed a detailed clinical protocol, patient management system, a training programme with detailed assessment and certification to deliver quality clinical outcomes. Training and certification are critical components to deliver quality as per Swiss standards. The doctors undergo certification every year. Our Swiss medical protocols are helping doctors to make a good diagnosis. In over 70 per cent of the cases, our doctors have been able to provide diagnosis and treatment remotely. In other cases, we have arranged further investigations and referrals to specialists. Several patients have commented that we have to identify the root cause of their long-standing medical problems. We have a clinical partnership with Medgate, a Swiss market leader in tele-medicine and has over 15 years of experience. We also use their clinical and training protocols.

Countries like Australia, Abu Dhabi, Philippines have successfully used this proprietary information for successful implementation of tele-consultation services.