A doctor who wanted to start a health tech business and not a clinic - Dr. Lalit Ranjan Manik, Co-Founder, MedTel, and Datweal

“When you say a doctor is going to start a business, everybody laughs as a doctor starting a business means his clinical practice or he will open a clinic. But I had a different idea of serving the healthcare industry,” says Dr. Lalit Ranjan Manik, Co-Founder, MedTel, and Datweal.

The healthcare industry or the medical industry is an aggregation and integration of sectors within the economic system that provides goods and services to treat patients with curative, preventive, rehabilitative, and palliative care in the urban and rural areas of India.

Dr. Lalit Ranjan Manik, Co-Founder, MedTel, and Datweal, has over a decade of innovative experience in primary care, digital health, Tele-triage, and much more. He has also worked as a consultant with the World Health Organization-India, Ministry of Health-Saudi Arabia, and National Health Service - UK.

MedTel is strengthening the Interoperability of the IoMT Ecosystem and changing patients'​ healthcare experience through engagement, insights & predictions. 

Datweal is a data-driven, enterprise-centric, consumer health activation platform that partners with leading hospitals, healthcare companies, and retailers to provide access points to a personalized health journey via a connected network of smart health stations. 

Spark to do something beyond clinical practice

Dr. Lalit throws light on his journey and his thoughts of helping the healthcare industry through MedTel, I studied at a government Medical College so I have seen patients closely of remote areas, suffering in the hospitals since there were resource constraints, and people were dying of common ailments like malaria, diarrhea, an infectious disease which could have been avoided. There was a spark in me that I should do something beyond clinical practice. The need to bring in technology and innovation into daily health practice and the feeling of having to do something else started off into ideating things and that lead to the start of 'Hello Doctor' in 2007 with solving problems of people in remote areas as they need healthcare information, teleconsultation, health advice. We found around 3 lakh patients across Orissa, West Bengal who had an acute need, and we made a sustainable model to begin. Thereafter I went to the UK for my Master's in Public Health as I got a scholarship from a British Council and also got the opportunity to work with NHS - National Health Service, UK. After coming back, I started working with WHO. Post that, I went to the Middle East in Saudi Arabia and was working on a project as a consultant for the government of Saudi Arabia. Then I started with all the learning’s and my previous entrepreneurial experience with Hello doctor 24x7 to help the people of rural areas, but to serve the underserved population, we must have a sustainable model because less than 2% of GDP is being spent in healthcare. And if you see to build sustainable health care in rural areas, we have to get support. So, we made two different models, one for urban and one for rural. Our model is to empower healthcare providers, like the pharmacist, doctors, hospitals, even nurses, even last mile health care workers and we need to empower them with the user-friendly technique. If you see in India, there are 10 lakh doctors, but there are more quacks hence we wanted to empower the health workers, pharmacists, nurses with the government. Also, there are so many teleconsultation platforms have been set up post-COVID, but telemedicine is not just about consulting over a video and audio and give advice because I need to understand your minimum vitals, patient history to do justice. We are providing remote monitoring solutions so that patients from the remote from home, they are sending vitals to the hospitals. And we are providing the app mobile app even the pulse oxymeter not visual, all are connected devices. They don't have to do any manual entry with the app. The data will be directly sent to the hospitals and also integrated with your clinical algorithms. We have added into our applications where there is personalized care is delivered to a patient and also doctors at a certain time if one doctor is able to manage 100 patients because he doesn't have to worry about the patient because the notifications rig stratifications have been already integrating our applications,” he says.

50% of the Indian population is unaware of their medical condition

Dr. Lalit talks about Datweal providing personalized health journey through a connected network of smartest stations, “We started Datweal simply due to MedTel, at a hospital if you see, there are 100 - 200 people just roaming around because they're waiting for their relatives, who have been admitted and since statistics show that there are 135 million obese, 80 million diabetic, 200 million hypertensive in India, but almost 50% of the population don't know about it. So, we provide an access point like Datweal which is a self-service health kiosk. You just have to stand on the kiosk, enter some personal information and it will analyze by clinical algorithms and body impedance analysis and you will get a diabetic risk score, cardiovascular risk score through a text message and WhatsApp message. We have already installed in 14 Hospitals in Bangalore. So when a patient comes to the same place again you will know his risk code and will build a personalized health journey. That means we always remind the person to have a lifestyle and behavioral change. So we are working with a lot of AI-enabled datasets and, I can say that is not at the very preliminary stage. So I’ll be telling you what is the roadmap ahead, we are building an AI-enabled behavioral change platform where we can provide personalized care to the patients. And through screening, health risk assessment, and multi-channel and multi-channel telehealth platforms,” he says.

A very rare breed of people who jump into entrepreneurship

Dr. Lalit talks about his entrepreneurial experience with Hello doctor, MedTel, and Datweal, “When you say a doctor is going to start a business, everybody laughs as a doctor will start a business means he will do his clinical practice or he will open a clinic. But I had a different idea to do something else other than sitting in a clinic because I felt the problem is bigger. If you go 10 years back, we were struggling to get a good mentor to get help from the incubators. If you are part of IIT and top tier Management College, they have an ecosystem to add up new ideas, new innovations, find your platforms. But in medical, not a single Medical College, you'll find incubator hence, you don't have the newest accelerator in medical college. 

My journey so far, is self-exploring, everyday learning as we are not good at everything. Also, out of my two co-founders, one is one doctor who did his MBA from Lucknow. So when I went to him, he told me “Oh, you're also the same category!” So what I'm trying to say is that it’s a very rare breed of doctors who jump into entrepreneurship and there are doctors after having successful clinical practice also now starting new business. So besides clinical practice, a doctor can be an entrepreneur, run a health tech company by addressing challenges faced every day,” he says

Indian Medical Association, WHO, and Global Fund are a giant program 

Dr. Lalit speaks on his experience of working with the World Health Organization – WHO, “It was a wonderful experience with WHO, who has his own set of guidelines. So, it is always as if I am learning, as you get a lot of mentors who guide. Number two, I could work on the ground because I was a consultant visiting 30 districts, so conducting CMEs for doctors. So basically, my job was to conduct CME and update guidelines to service doctors. I was also meeting private practitioners. So, those will be notifying TB cases. By meeting private practitioners in remote locations, or remote settings, it was great learning that how really healthcare is delivered on the ground. And this learning helped me in my startup journey in MedTel. I was fortunate to meet national level and international level consultants, those who have experience in Southeast Asian countries, African countries, in specific public health. Indian Medical Association, WHO and Global Fund are a giant program and I had a wonderful time,” he says.

Edited By- Rabia Mistry Mulla

Contributed By: Dr. Lalit Ranjan Manik, Co-Founder, MedTel, and Datweal
Tags : #smitakumar #medicircle #medtel #datweal #DrRanjanManik #healthcare #clinic #ai #digitalhealth #innovation #indianmedicalassociation #Doctors-Speak

About the Author

Rabia Mistry Mulla

'For vessels to change their course, they have to be hit by a strong wind first!'
So here I am penning down my thoughts on health and research after 6 years of planning Diets.
Being a Clinical Dietitian & a Diabetes Educator I always had a thing for writing, alas, been hit by the winds towards a new course!
You can write to me at [email protected]

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