Start-up PatientsEngage offers online support to manage chronic diseases

N Ramakrishnan Chennai | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 18, 2015

Aparna Mittal, Founder and CEO, PatientsEngage

What do you do when someone close to you has a health problem? You consult a doctor, obviously. But, more than that you will Google it, as the term goes, to find out all that you can about the ailment, the treatment and what else you can do to help that person.

There are numerous online forums that discuss particular ailments or diseases, in a bid to help the close family and the care givers to cope with the situation. Most of them, however, have a Western orientation.

It is to bridge this gap and provide a platform in the Indian and Asian context that Aparna Mittal, who has spent nearly 25 years in the information technology industry, has founded PatientsEngage, a patient and care-giver focussed healthcare platform for supporting the management of chronic diseases.

An alumnus of IIM-Calcutta, Mittal, Founder and CEO, PatientsEngage Pvt Ltd, Singapore, says her studies showed that the pharmaceutical industry has been talking of patient engagement, especially in the multinational context. There has been some progress on this front in the last 8-10 years in the US and Europe, where there are organisations that engage with patients on various products. But there has not been much activity in the Asian context and more particularly India, she says.

It is to fill this gap that Mittal, whose exposure to the pharma industry came when she worked for a French IT company that was involved in providing CRM software and data analytics for the pharma sector, started PatientsEngage, along with her banker-husband R Venkatanathan, in July 2014. The platform went live in November 2014. The duo has invested $250,000 of their own funds.

“This is a platform for chronic condition support for patients and family care-givers, because in the Asian context the family care-givers play a significant role in looking after the patients,” says Mittal.

PatientsEngage now offers discussions on 40 ailments and conditions, including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder, insomnia, migraine, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. It has tied up with organisations such as the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Society of India. PatientsEngage also has dieticians and other experts on its panel to contribute to the discussion. It also features articles by doctors specialising in various conditions.

According to Mittal, PatientsEngage has about 4,000 registered users and gets about 50,000 page views a month, with most of the marketing for the platform being done on social media, besides those having accessed it talking about it to others.

Fund-raising plan

The promoters are now looking to raise about $1 million and have begun discussions with investors both in India and Singapore. The funds will be used to hire staff, product enhancement, marketing and Asia expansion..

The site is free for the users, but Mittal says “we can monetise the platform by working with the pharma industry and other research organisations on patient research focussed on product adherence and patient behaviour.” The names of those participating in the research will be kept confidential, she adds.

Published on November 18, 2015
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