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Health-tech startup Lybrate’s CEO on building the ‘Quora’ for health and growth plans

Saurabh Arora

Saurabh Arora

Lybrate Inc. is striving to become the go-to digital platform for patients to discuss health-related issues and for doctors to connect with one another.

The health-tech startup allows users to book audio, video or in-person consultations with doctors and ask health-related questions for free through its website and mobile app. The startup raised $10.2 million in funding last year and counts Tiger Global, Nexus Venture Partners and Ratan Tata among its investors.
Founded in 2013, the company set out with the mission of solving three major issues in healthcare – limited time, availability of doctors and social stigmas attached to certain ailments. Lybrate co-founder and CEO Saurabh Arora explains how Lybrate operates and shares the company’s growth plans. Excerpts:

What is your business model and how do you earn revenue?

We enable patients to book a consultation with a doctor of their choice from across the country and charge them a consultation fee. This is the source of revenue from the patient’s side. We believe the number one thing in healthcare is trust and privacy. We ensure privacy because Lybrate is an anonymous platform. Trust is created because doctors’ complete detailed profiles are available along with the fee amount.

Lybrate has services for doctors as well. Lybrate Cube is a comprehensive practice management software, which goes beyond managing appointments, electronic medical records, e-prescription, scheduling, etc. Most follow-up visits are not required and a doctor’s time comes at a premium. With this platform, doctors can consult their patients online. That’s our second revenue model. Our revenue grew six-fold in 2016-17.

It’s been one-and-a-half years since you last raised funding. How have you deployed the funds?

We have not spent all the money yet. Most funds have been deployed for meeting manpower requirements. Right now, we’re not actively looking for funding.

Lybrate seems to have a special interest in creating content. There’s a health feed section and a blog. Where is the company headed with this?

We call it the ‘Quora for health’, where users can ask questions for free and doctors will reply. By making it free, we saw massive adoption and people started to get informed not from search engines but from a qualified medical expert. The way we do it is we have qualified doctors on our platform, and on the backend, we use machine learning. You can just open Lybrate and post a query to get a response. It’s that easy.

Internet connectivity is still patchy in India. What kind of traffic do you get?

We get 60% traffic from the top eight cities, including metros, and 40% from smaller cities and towns. About 50% of our traffic is repeat traffic. We target our users much better because we understand user behaviour such as what he or she may like in terms of health content. That is something which was not done before. We are expecting growth as things have improved over time, like the proliferation of smartphones and reduced data rates.

How do you plan to grow?

One is the healthcare data itself, which is huge and powerful. Data is collected from users on the platform; for example, if they’re diabetic. They interact with the health feed, giving signals about what they like and don’t like. There is so much power in that data if used, without actually involving the users. One can see a lot of trends and insights about an area or a disease. Data such as prescriptions, users’ queries and interest level on health care information can be used in different ways, including improving the ultimate outcome.

We also want to launch a health analytics platform, where we could see trends and disease-level data, which can be useful for many other people.

Healthcare is not moving toward in-person consultation with doctors. That is going to reduce in the future because visits themselves are not required. Currently, you are forced to go because there is no other alternative. Today, at any hospital, in the queue, 70% are follow-up visits. They’re not required.