Following the announcement, we caught up with MedznMore Co-Founder and CEO Asad Khan, to talk all things Healthcare, including how vital technology is to the progression of the industry, if users in Pakistan struggle to trust in a digital health platform over traditional ways of medicine purchasing, the three major issues they are trying to resolve, the startup's future plans, and more.
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How does the MedznMore platform work?
At MedznMore, our ambition is to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for the masses. The platform is designed to provide customers with a seamless experience to order medicines online and get it delivered within four hours consistently. Our goal is to make the whole experience more convenient, more affordable, and more reliable than walking to your local pharmacy.
Over time we will add Lab Test, Telehealth, and Health Insurance to our platform, however, at this stage we are focusing on three major issues facing customers at retail pharmacies:
Authenticity: Pakistan has a chronic problem of counterfeit medicines, in order to ensure 100% authenticity of our medicine, we only procure directly from manufacturers or authorized distributors.
Availability: The advantage of central distribution is that we have a much larger range of health and wellness products than a typical retail pharmacy, hence customers don’t have to visit multiple pharmacies to fill their prescription.
Accessibility: In addition, we have built, the best in class technology solution which tracks order at every stage. This has enabled us to promise that every order will be delivered within 4 hours, anywhere in Karachi for now and soon across major cities in Pakistan.
You will be bringing in diagnostic, telehealth, and personalized health insurance products soon. How important do you believe technology is to the progression of MedznMore and the healthcare industry overall?
If we are to provide an easy to use and integrated healthcare platform, technology has to play a pivotal role. Adding services like Telehealth or Lab tests to our platform is the easy part, the more interesting work is then to sync these services together. For example, if you get a prescription from telehealth then all your meds and lab tests should be automatically ordered, and customers should get a personalized and seamless experience of interconnected services.
The same goes for health insurance, customer should have the option of buying insurance and then cover telehealth, lab, or medicine as part of that insurance cover seamlessly with a few clicks.
We believe, access to essential healthcare services should be as easy as ordering food or shopping for groceries online, so we are spending most of our time and resources to build the foundation of technology that will simplify the access to healthcare services for our customers over time to come.
Have you faced any challenges with user behaviour in Pakistan? E.g. do people struggle to trust in a digital health platform? And how have you overcome this?
If you think about how people use banking and e-commerce apps, especially in more developed countries, this is where healthcare needs to be.
Healthcare as an industry, is where financial services or retail was 20 years ago, so there is a lot of catching up to do but thankfully customer behaviour is quickly shifting in Pakistan, primarily due to a lot of confidence-building measures, combined with massive subsidies given by companies like Careem, Uber and other big e-commerce players. These days consumers are increasingly more comfortable using digital mediums for ordering everyday services.
In terms of medicine delivery, we need to ensure that their experience with us is better than what they currently get in an offline setting and we are already witnessing that customers who order from us are buying more frequently and getting friends and family to use our platform too.
What do you believe are some of the most transformative or exciting things happening in Healthtech right now/what would you like to see?
The healthcare industry is going through rapid disruption, with technology and analytics as the key drivers for change. Healthcare has to become more personalised, more integrated and patients themselves have to drive that. This presents both challenges and opportunities. There is still some way to go but with recent advances in technology, we are now moving in the right direction.
Healthcare in the developing world largely remains based on reactive care for patients. This is both costly and detrimental for patients long-term. The industry needs to pivot and the focus has to be towards preventative care. The use of data science and analytics will be a key component in achieving this transformation.
Already, insurers in developed countries are utilising analytics to identify high-risk patients and offer early intervention or exploit health data to promote healthy living by incentivising those who follow a healthy lifestyle with better deals.
In Pakistan, our hospitals and the industry in general lack core skills to record and then use patient data to that end. I would like to see more AI-powered, data-driven organizations to join the growing set of healthtech entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of technology.
Did the current climate affect your fundraising efforts in any way?
This has been a difficult year for most people, as well as economies around the globe. However, it has also presented massive opportunities for both entrepreneurs and investors. I believe, this shift in people's behaviour of remote working and ordering essentials online, post COVID-19 would be more enduring than people appreciate.
For example, the proliferation of Telehealth had been slow over the past decade, but more has been achieved in the last one year than in the entire last decade.
In addition, technology companies have been attracting large amounts of capital despite challenging circumstances. Their dominance in global stock markets has been absolute throughout this pandemic.
So, the investor appetite for the technology companies with the right team and the right business model has actually increased in the current climate. I think, with record-low interest rates and accelerating shift to the digital economy, this will only get better over time.
Aside from capital, what else were you looking for from your investors?
Our ambition from the very start had been to improve the inefficiencies in the medicine supply chain and build a comprehensive healthcare platform. It might sound straightforward but it requires a large amount of capital, technology, and deep connection within the industry. Our focus right now is to enable the existing players rather than the whole scale disruption of the market. So, we were looking for investors who can help open doors for us. This will help us build a more sustainable business and avoid unnecessary friction while we scale our company.
Can you share some of MedznMore’s short-term plans for expansion with us? (e.g. geographical, product, talent)
In terms of geographical expansion, over the next 6-12 months, we are looking to add bases in most large cities in Pakistan following KLI. In addition, over the same time horizon, we are looking to add the whole spectrum of health care services, including diagnostics, telehealth, and comprehensive health insurance to our platform.
What do you foresee as the largest challenges to scaling MedznMore in Pakistan and do you have any plans to scale to MENA?
Our current focus is to build an advanced integrated healthcare platform, where data and AI will drive, not just the personalization of services but also automate the whole supply chain of medicine delivery. This ambition is exciting and challenging; it will require us to find the best technology talent here or abroad, to build a unique platform supported by a rockstar operational team to streamline the world-class operations on top.
We are looking for mission-driven people to join us, and the biggest challenge would be to find and retain talent in Pakistan.
Once we have a baseline system and processes, this should be an exportable product that we can quickly replicate to other regions. MENA is definitely on the horizon once we are ready.
This is one of the largest Seed rounds in Pakistan history, what are your hopes for the future of MedznMore?
I am grateful to our investors, who have put their trust in us. This large liquidity injection has enabled us to attract the best talent and invest in the right technology from the very start.
However, we have only just started and looking forward to the long journey ahead of us. If we want to simplify healthcare at scale then we have to be the biggest providers of healthcare services, including medicine delivery in Pakistan.
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