Healthcare network: Local pharmacy goes high-tech

Sehat Sathi has digitalised 30,000 medical stores and plans to make them a hub of healthcare in the smaller towns of India.

Indian healthcare, healthcare app, local pharmacies, sehat sathi
Sehat Sathi is currently delivering healthcare services and products to more than 35 lakh families.

The pandemic has created the need for a healthcare ecosystem that is integrated digitally to enable patients, doctors, diagnostics and pharmacies to connect with each other more efficiently. Medtech startup Sehat Sathi has been enabling pharmacists in India to go online since 2017. It is now empowering retail pharmacies to unlock more than just medicine sales to improve their incomes. First, with the Sehat Sathi app, pharmacies automatically turn into e-clinics with absolutely zero infrastructure change. These pharmacies can facilitate tele-consultation of any incoming store visitor via the Sehat Sathi app. This is a strong use-case for towns where all medical specialties are not available. Second, with the rise of direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses, they need ways to reach out to customers who aren’t buying everything online. Pharmacies can deliver these products speedily to their nearby customers, and D2C brands get direct access to an extensive customer base via the former.

Sehat Sathi is currently delivering healthcare services and products to more than 35 lakh families. By the end of 2021, it expects to digitalise 50,000 pharmacies. It is helping pharmacies to connect with more than 5000 doctors to provide consultations in rural areas. More than 30,000 medical stores are working with the Sehat Sathi app from 15 states, says Nikhil Baheti, co-founder of this Rajasthan-based startup. “Sehat Sathi app has created a network of local medical stores across over 600 towns and cities to strengthen healthcare accessibility,” he says.

Sehat Sathi (partner app of Aayu) was conceived after extensive research in  over 800 towns and cities across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the co-founders uncovered key gaps in healthcare accessibility. “Pharmacies have always been more than just the PoS of medicines. They act as guides for their customers’ substitute selection, educate the customer about side effects, etc. Typically, doctors for a family can be many, but the pharmacy for a family is one,” says Baheti. However, these pharmacies struggle to manage their customers and orders on WhatsApp. “A CRM tool that can help them manage their customers efficiently, provide them predictive insights about their customer base—their repeat order reminders, chronic patients, etc., and consequently improve customers’ order experience—is critical to their business. We have solved these issues and increased the average sales per pharmacy using Sehat Sathi by 500% since April 2021. We also crossed a milestone of $1 million medicine sales for September 2021,” he informs. “Over 10 popular brands such as Oziva, Beardo, Upkarma, Himalayan Organics, etc., have listed themselves on our Sehat Sathi network.”

The startup has raised $4 million from InfoEdge, Waterbridge Ventures, RVCF and Astarc Ventures. Village Global and angel investors such as Anand Chandrasekaran, founders of and others are also participating in the latest round of funding, which is set to close soon. “Our motto is to increase the business of pharmacies by increasing their sales and reducing their operations cost,” says Baheti. “The pharmacies face problems in procuring inventory from multiple distributors, and the complete cycle is repetitive and highly inefficient. We’ve resolved that by aggregating the inventory of top distributors. The items can be ordered simply through the Sehat Sathi app and delivery is ensured to the pharmacy.”

Baheti says the startup has witnessed 105% month-on-month growth (on average) in the orders placed by pharmacies to distributors on the app. “Since we handle the demand (from customers) and supply (from distributors) for the pharmacy in one place, they find it super-efficient,” he says, adding, “We target to reach 50,000 active pharmacies by March 2022 with an average monthly business of `75,000 powered by Sehat Sathi. These pharmacies will cover over 50 million users.”

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First published on: 17-11-2021 at 00:15 IST