Healthcare innovation

Besides geographic expansion, we want to go…

Besides geographic expansion, we want to go…

Besides geographic expansion, we want to go deeper into diagnostics, as there is a lot of opportunity for innovation: Dhruv Gupta, Orange HealthShahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Dhruv Gupta, Co-founder, Orange Health, to find out about India’s fastest diagnostic lab that took off in the midst of the pandemic and has carved out a niche by providing home collection within 60 minutes and reports within 6 hours.

Diagnostic Testing: Trends
The diagnostic system, from a trends perspective, broadly, is in its early days in India. For example, for every thousand Indians, we see that they take about 1100 tests annually. Whereas, the same number for Brazil is about 6000, and for the US it is 21000. 74% of diagnostic testing in India still happens in urban markets.

Over the last couple of years, because of Covid, we have seen a lot of innovations in the diagnostic space. Firstly, at-home testing has become very popular. Today, it is preferred by many since it is much safer than going to a lab and running the risk of getting exposed to infection. It is way more convenient when you’re sick since you would just want to stay home and have someone arrive to get you tested. Today, everything comes home, so why not diagnostics?

Another reason is stronger consumer acceptance of home collection. Having gone through multiple covid waves, over the last couple of years, we have seen consumers welcoming at-home testing and are getting tested more at the convenience of their homes.

Third, is the digitisation of health records aided by innovation in the healthcare space. Consumers, of course, get help maintaining their records but now this information is readily available to doctors and health providers, streamlining the treatment process. It helps in providing better care over a continuous, longer-term rather than episodically.

Finally, I think the other update that has happened in consumer trends as a result of covid is the growth of preventive healthcare. Covid has crucially highlighted the importance of us actively managing our healthcare. Owing to this, we have seen an increasing number of consumers take annual and even bi-annual health check-ups just to keep a track of their overall health. Many have started exercising regularly, tracking what they eat and, now, they can track their body metrics through health check-ups.

Diagnostic Testing: Innovations
Across the last few years, we’ve also seen a lot of innovations in diagnostic testing. Now, you can do dengue ELFA testing, which is much more accurate than any previous forms of testing. We also have better machines today that produce faster results. Because of this, once a sample reaches the lab, the results are returned within 60 minutes and that allows consumers to get better health outcomes. Besides, speed and new technology enable IoT devices to control temperature better. As a result, samples are of higher quality and results are more accurate.

Orange Health: Idea and Inception
My Co-founder, Tarun Bhambra and I spent many years in healthcare before starting Orange Health. We found that in today’s world if we want to speak to a doctor, we can do that in 10-15 minutes. Medicines get delivered in 60 minutes. But to get tested, we often have to drag our loved ones or ourselves through fever or body ache to the nearest lab. It was actually hard to find someone to come to our house and provide testing on an immediate basis. Our personal experiences further helped us realise that there is a significant gap in the market where consumers needed quality testing. Both at home and faster. But there were no healthcare or diagnostic players addressing the crucial gap in the ecosystem. That’s really what led to the idea of Orange Health.

Orange Health: Making The Difference
Orange health started in December 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. We started with the offering of providing home collection within 60 minutes and reports within 6 hours. The way we achieved this was by having a very strong forward and reverse logistics mechanism that helps consumers from across the city – as of now, Bangalore and Delhi – to order on our website or the Orange Health app.

This service is available from 6 am to 10 pm. So yes, if your sample was collected at 8 pm, you would get your results that same night itself – within 6 hours. We have done this through innovation in consumer technology, which effectively allows them to place an order, get tested and receive reports, all sitting at home, at a considerable pace.

We have refactored the forward and reverse logistics and re-engineered the lab operations, as well. We also have high-quality Random Access Machines in our labs, which provide faster testing. This is what allows us to keep our promise of 6-hour reports. Faster is not just convenient, it also provides higher accuracy. Samples reach our lab within 150 minutes up to the 99th percentile. This comes in a temperature-controlled kit. As a result, the blood that hits our lab is fresher and gives more accurate results.

We have a 99% on-time rate for collection and reporting, so when someone reaches out to us on WhatsApp, we have a measure of responding within 60 minutes. This speed is not just about convenience but also about the ‘care’ in healthcare. The speed is important for fast responsiveness.

Orange Health: Future Plans
As an outcome of all the work we have done in making testing faster, more reliable, and accurate, we’re now the highest-rated diagnostic lab across the country, having served over a million customers across Bangalore and Delhi. We’re backed by some of the world’s foremost investors, starting with YCombinator.

Post that, our Series A was led by Accel and series B by General Catalyst and Bertelsmann India Investments. We also have many other angel investors, which has allowed us to go from an idea in December 2020 to being a dominant player in at-home diagnostics across two cities.

Our plan for the next few years is to drive geographic expansion across the country and serve as many consumers as possible in India. We also want to go deeper into diagnostics. There is a lot of opportunity for innovation in this space. While we expand across the country, we will continue to enable better diagnostics for healthcare in India.