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Dial AMBER if you need an ambulance

March 07, 2016 15:29 IST

AMBER brings you the nearest ambulance and alerts your preferred hospital and family members

A bunch of doctors and engineers have come together to make access to emergency care easier and faster, particularly during the 'golden hour', through a mobile app. Golden hour is a term used for the time immediately following traumatic injury in which medical treatment is most likely to prevent irreversible damage, optimising the chances of survival.

AMBER app, which goes live this week, will connect a user with the nearest ambulance, preferred hospital's emergency room, and family members instantly. AMBER (ambulance + emergency room) claims to be the first pan-Indian medical emergency management system.

On a single cloud platform, it would allow the user to share her geo-location and medical data with the responder instantly. Simultaneously, it would alert her family and, if chosen, the insurance company.

The app is being launched in Delhi-NCR and would soon be expanded to Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad. "We hope this platform will truly be revolutionary and add transparency to the current system," said Vinayak Dalmia, co-founder, Therapeople Medical Services.

"We will enable users to digitise their medical profile and records over the mobile phone and internet with an elegant user interface," added Cambridge-educated Dalmia.

Apart from Dalmia, who comes from an old business family, the founding team includes Dr Bharat Aggarwal, a senior radiologist, and Kavi Sharma, chief operating officer of US-based President Electronics.

The venture also counts senior tech and e-commerce professionals Sharad Sanghi, chief of Netmagic Solutions, and Bijal Bajwa of Dubizzle as members of advisory board.

Recalling how they hit on the idea, Aggarwal said, "We wanted to build something that can have a real impact and something we can look back upon and really be proud of. The digital health ecosystem fitted naturally with that broad mission.

More specifically, the entire founding team had personally gone through the broken emergency system in our country. That anecdotal experience got further strengthened by on-ground research. We are confident that once we build this ecosystem, the business case would be strong and sustainable one."

The founders said apart from regular smartphone users, senior citizens and their wards would see a lot of value in the app. Hospitals are also optimistic about collaborating with AMBER. Vaibhav Poddar, senior vice-president, Max Healthcare, said, "By giving us advance access to the relevant medical records uploaded by the patient, the platform will help us be better prepared to receive them when they arrive at the emergency, saving precious minutes in critical situations."

Apart from Max, Therapeople has also inked deals with other top hospitals in Delhi and plans to take the network pan-India in the next three years.

In the first year, Amber will be free to download. From the second year onwards, it will charge the consumer an annual nominal subscription fee. Therapeople says it does not intend to charge for the emergency runs - so whatever a consumer currently pays to a hospital for calling an ambulance during emergency would remain the same. However, in non-emergency cases such as dialysis, the app intends to charge a nominal fee.

"So far, we have worked on a combination of self-funding and an Angel Round from a leading Technology Entrepreneur who is also our mentor. Now, we are going through conversations for a larger fund raise," Dalmia said.

Dalmia, who has had stints with the government and private equity, is confident that the model is scalable. "We are basically a technology company but we are also at the same time a network company aggregating some of India's leading healthcare providers on a single platform. That is a very powerful and scalable proposition," he said.

When asked, if he is worried about copycats and other risks, he said, "It's a start-up operating in a tough terrain. Of course, the risk of failure exists. But all I can say is first they ignore you, then they laugh at you and then you build, scale up and win!"

What AMBER will do

  • Access nearest ambulance with the press of a button
  • Alert the preferred hospital in case of emergency
  • Allows you to keep track of dependents remotely
  • Allows you to digitise all medical records and shares them with hospital in case of emergency
  • Monitors vital parameters and sends reminders on hospital visits, medical check ups, etc

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/

N Sundaresha Subramanian in New Delhi