Antariksh Pandey has nine years of experience in technology and product domains. Although his career began as an engineer at Infosys, the growing interest in customers and a keenness to solve their problems led him to wear multiple hats and eventually shifted him to product management role with a US based startup, Sonus. With diverse experience that spans across software, telecommunications, UCS, and health tech Antariksh Pandey leads product strategy and management at Phablecare.
Phable is an innovative health assistant, which is geared towards making chronic disease management easier and helping people who suffer from them. Talking to him helped us divulge a lot about heath tech, doctor-patient engagements and predictive care. Read on to know more.
Tell us about Phable.
Phable was started in 2018 with a primary focus on chronic disease management, something that is lacking in our country. Around 40 crore (and plus) people in India suffer from chronic diseases. Basically, 80% of our elderly population is suffering from one or the other chronic disease like high hypertension, blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and thyroid. Phable is a health tech platform (not a typical health care platform) that caters to this population.
We use technology to solve patients’ problems and are one of the largest medical IOT app devices integrators in the world.
We have APIs to connect with multiple platforms like Fitbit, Apple health, Google health, etc. You can connect devices with the mobile app and those connected devices can take patients health and vitals. So, the data collected is sent to your connected doctor with some intelligence-based insights. Hence the doctor has a view of patient’s health 24X7. We have been able to save more than 300 to 400 lives in past three years and the numbers are still growing.
How is Phable different from other doctor-patient platforms?
We use technology to make patients abide by their plans/follow-ups/routine so it’s not just about connecting patients with doctors for regular insights but also helpful for doctors to get better results. As soon as the doctor writes a prescription, it is digitized by our team. If it was in a digital format already, it would go directly to the patients’ application and act as reminder to take medicines, to do exercise.
We also have vital logging where we can see the results and infer if the plan was effective or how the patient responded to a particular treatment plan that the doctor provided. Everything is based on predictive care, which is the outcome of the data we collected. For example, if a new patient registers on Phable, who is 50 years old, suffering from diabetes, the platform will tell itself what plan would work for him/her. Based on this, we provide some suggestions to doctors, which is called clinical decision support system. The doctor can choose whether to go ahead with a plan or move away.
On other platforms you mostly see a transaction being done after the patient visits a doctor. For us, it’s the beginning of the story when the connection gets established. This is when the patient starts sharing data with their doctor and doctors starts to intervene.
That said, we are a discovery platform as well (like others) so the patient can also look out for doctors mainly focusing on chronic diseases. One can either meet in-person or do video consultation.
What are your current top three priorities as a product manager?
For me, patient side application and doctor side application both are important because they complete the puzzle together. So, I have to take both things together. Talking about patients, I would say it’s our weekly active users that I care about the most. Since they have chronic diseases, they have to do certain activities weekly.
We also have a peripheral ecosystem of e-commerce built around care delivery, which provides devices, medicines at a very lucrative rates, better than the competitors. For me, driving that revenue is also important for the health of the company. Average order value is an important metric here.
In India, companies are working on certain sections of healthcare. There is no holistic approach to healthcare. Some companies are providing medicines, some are providing consultations, we aim to provide a one-stop solution for a patient so they don’t need to download multiple apps for one simple job.
The third and the most important thing on patient side is, the number of vitals recorded. On doctors’ side, how many patients they are seeing daily. An important metric here is interventions. Another important area I look at is prescription generated by the doctor. Besides many things, it helps us build our AI an ML algorithm, which further helps our predictive health system.
What are the major challenges you face while engaging patients and how do you solve them?
This is challenging; three levers come into play to fix it, first is doctors. Patients trust doctors the most. Second is a family member. We are bringing in a community angle to patient care, where a patient is part of a community, and the family members can also take part in the recovery of a patient.
Third, and the most important thing we are working on to boost engagements is gamification. It is something unheard of in the healthcare sector. At some point, there will be a badge, goals, etc. Patients can win points and can utilize them in the ecommerce functionality.
What is the role of real-time conversations in building this community?
For us, the primary users of this application are who require this kind of functionality and are tech savvy. For example, the people living in big cities and their parents living somewhere else. Even from a distance they can track their parents’ vitals and remind them of the needed action. There is a need for nudges and chat framework. We’re working on it.
Also, introducing group chat could be another thing. Like we don’t only have doctors, we have yoga therapists, nutritionists, etc. as well. So, this is something we look forward to bring in soon, where an instructor can talk to the larger audience, or have one to one interactions, as required.
Do you expect the audience to expand beyond doctor, patient?
Our audience is divided amongst various categories. Primarily it is doctor-patient connections, but there is certain audience that’s using the application for various e-commerce activities. And, then there are some who come to the application to connect their devices, to track their weekly or monthly fitness levels.
There is another set of users who like our “discover” section, which talks about multiple things related to taking care of one’s health. Also, in future, we expect to expand on the community side.
How much of your engagements takes place on web and mobile currently?
Patient side is completely app based. On the doctor side, we have both mobile and web, whatever they do on web, they can do an app too. On the whole, doctors want to see their patient’s data on mobile but when they’re in clinic setup, they access the same application on the web and write prescriptions there.
What are your biggest challenges as of now as a product leader?
The heath tech sector is going through various level of changes. If you just see medicines, the Medlife merger with Pharmeasy, the NetMeds and 1 MG, a lot of consolidation is happening in this industry; being a part of this industry, we’re also affected by these consolidations. Becoming self-reliant in is one of our biggest challenges and goals.
Second is, preventive care is not so prevalent. Once somebody is diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension, they are shocked for a while but after sometime that becomes part of their system. So, it’s in the shock period that they are most active, before that they are confused and after sometime they’re careless. This is the phase that’s really challenging.
How tricky is to win patients’ trust in the health tech sector?
We have observed, there are some patients who come to our application for various e-commerce related activities, through some campaigns or some offers. They explore the application for some days, some months to get connected to a doctor. But such connections generally get lost after a few months. Monthly retention is also a good metric for any app like us, and this is what we get from such users. On the other hand, the patients who come from the doctor’s side, we have seen tremendous, engagement and stickiness. They trust the doctor. So we’re focusing on building this trust on the doctors side.
Anything changed post pandemic?
Before pandemic, there was very less adoption of electronic prescription. In 2019 we thought the world is still not ready for it because doctors have a habit of writing on paper using pens. We thought this will take time to evolve, especially when we’re chasing super specialists, who are 40-50-60 plus and for them changing their habits of pen-paper is almost negligible.
But with pandemic everyone had to stay at home, no in person consultations were happening and teleconsultation became the priority. So we went on to launch teleconsultation, and with that automatically came forth the requirement of electronic prescription. The good part was we were already thinking about it and had started things so we were prepared.
What we see now is phenomenal adoption of electronic prescription- people are switching from other platforms and coming to our electronic prescription module, and loving it.
How challenging is it for PM to drive different teams together towards one goal?
It’s absolutely challenging. And, for a startup, these things are very dynamic because sometimes you are chasing the number of users, sometimes you are chasing engagement of those users, and some other time you are just running after revenue. The team has to be fluid enough to accept these changes. Your team should be aligned to that and they should be talking about metrics, and numbers. This is something which we gear the whole team towards. We have hired a great talent in our organization, which is completely dynamic. They can change according to the teams and business priorities.
Any tool that’s your favorite and helps you sail through the routine hustle of a PM?
One is Miro. It has very beautiful presentation, and offers flow charts to create product roadmap, journeys, mind maps, etc. It’s a common, shared platform where all team members can come and do white boarding. Essentially, it’s a play area for the whole product team, and this is something which we use for our day-to-day work and it has smoothened our lives a lot.