Get hard cash back now when you see a Doctor, the MediCash Story!
If you have paid medical bills at any point in your life, you will know that the costs always pinch. When we at YourStory heard about this concept of getting cash-back on medical spends, we could not resist talking to the entrepreneurs at MediCash. Passionate, driven and wanting to make a difference…that's what excites us about entrepreneur stories, read this one to check about what young entrepreneurs Manu Swarup, Ravitej Yadalam are doing at MediCash.
Manu Swarup shares the story.
1. What led you to start MediCash? What's the pain point you are solving here?
MediCash.in is India’s first and only free healthcare cash-back program. The idea is to help patients save on all forms of out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Over 70% of all healthcare expenses in India are made out of pocket. Medical insurance penetration is very low.
In addition to the above, medical insurance does not cover all healthcare spends. For instance, expense towards dental, cosmetic surgery, infertility treatments, diagnostics (both pathology and imaging), pharmacy and other alternative forms of treatment like Ayurveda are not covered under insurance.
These individuals did not have any way of saving on these expenses made out of pocket and MediCash.in now allows them to do so for free.
I come from a family of eye surgeons spanning three generations. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at the family hospital. I noticed that irrespective of the income group of the patient they always enquired about a discount on the bill, be that on the consultation fee, the diagnostics, or most definitely on the surgeries. I went abroad for about 8 years where I did my undergrad and worked with IBM and Goldman Sachs for over 4 years. Once I returned, I noticed that not much had changed. People still asked for a rebate, just the manner of asking for it got sophisticated. That just showed us how price-conscious an average Indian customer is.
In addition to the above, I founded India’s only unbiased and credible doctor finder service after leaving Goldman, called www.mydocadvisor.com. We have no remuneration link to the doctors we recommend on that portal. The objective was to build a social platform aimed at helping patients find and connect with the right and the most reputed doctors for their healthcare issue. The platform allows patients to get free multiple opinions from a range of doctors, thereby allowing them to make the right choice for the healthcare problem. Through our experience here we also realised that patients were always looking for a reputed doctor but were still very price/cost conscious and sensitive.
As per WHO statistics, close to 9% of the per capita income of an individual is spent on healthcare each year. That percentage is significantly higher as you go down the income group. Healthcare spends in medium and lower income households are known to be the highest expenditures. Not uncommon for it to account for over 50% of their income.
2. Your personal motivation as an entrepreneur and what got you into starting in this particular space? Also, please tell me more about your interest, things that inspire you and keeps you excited as an individual and more so as an entrepreneur?
I am part of family of healthcare professionals. Our dinner table conversations, as you can imagine, revolves around medicine/ healthcare.
I sometimes regret not becoming a doctor. I had the passion for it but once my brother decided to take on the reigns from my father I decided to take the easy way out. It is amazing to see the respect and gratitude patients have for my father and my brother. It was nice to see how happy it made my father and brother to make a difference to someone’s life. That’s when I decided that I wanted to build a venture that had the potential of having a social impact yet being a for-profit institution. In line with the family legacy, I chose to do so in the space of healthcare only. I wanted it to be a service that would really help people in their hour of need, i.e., something that really added value to people and society and made a difference in their lives, while being commercially viable as a venture. Hence I went down the path of creating medicash.in and mydocadvisor.com
3. How has the experience been so far? it seems from the website that you have achieved good scale, can you elaborate on that? Maybe, you can touch a bit about the growth and traction you are seeing.
MediCash.in was launched in March 2013. The model has been appreciated by both the medical fraternity and patients alike. MediCash.in has one of the largest and most reputed networks of healthcare institutes pan India. We have over 100 partners pan India who (amongst them) have over 4500 branches/locations where MediCash.in is valid. Our customer base is growing at the rate of 40 -50% month on month and we already have very loyal customers making repeat transactions using MediCash.in which is a heartening reflection of that fact we are able to make that difference we had set out to achieve.
4. Are you bootstrapped, and if yes, plans for raising funds?
MediCash.in is bootstrapped. It is currently funded by its co-founders. We have started approaching investors for seed funding and are in conversation with multiple funds. The funding will help us build certain key areas of the business and as a result grow faster and capitalise on our first mover advantage.
5. A little bit about the founding team and how you guys came together to startup?
MediCash.in is jointly owned and run by Ravitej Yadalam and me. Ravi founded Pennyful.com, an online cash-back shopping portal for the US market in 2010. In late 2011, Pennyful expanded into the Indian market as Pennyful.in, India’s largest cash-back shopping program. Ravi brings in the cash-back expertise.
I founded www.mydocadvisor.com in 2011, the only credible doctor-finder service in India. I worked in large MNCs like IBM and Goldman Sachs in London prior to moving to India to set up mydocadvisor.com. I bring in a great network of doctors and hospitals, and relevant experience in the healthcare sector.
Ravi and I knew each other for a long time. We had met through a common friend. Ravi was looking at expanding the cash-back program to the healthcare space and we were working on finding innovative ways of helping patients save on their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses and we decided to join hands and find a model that really benefited the patient.
6. What can we expect from MediCash in the coming months?
Our mission is to revolutionise savings for out-of-pocket healthcare spends in India through innovation in approach, process and technology. As a consumer centric company, we inspire trust and drive loyalty.
MediCash.in is expanding its network pan India rapidly. We have a strong presence in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi/NCR, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune, but are technically in over 20 cities pan India due to the pan India nature of some of our tie ups. We cover all major verticals in healthcare i.e., hospitals/ doctors, diagnostics and pharmacy.
Our focus is on expanding our network to the extent that we can cover every single vertical within healthcare and every specialty within medicine in all the cities we expand into.
MediCash.in is very simple to use. A patient simply needs to register for free withmedicash.in, walk in to any of our healthcare partner’s centre and avail either an upfront discount on their bill or earn a cash-back.
To ensure ease and instant benefits, patients can simply give a missed call to a number (+91 8088 111 444), the system will automatically register them and send them an SMS on their phone. This SMS will be their ID proof and the mobile number their unique ID. This allows non-tech-savvy people to easily avail MediCash.in benefits. We are focused on finding easier ways for patients to avail their benefits and services at our partner institutes
7. To your prospective customers, what would you like to say? Any message for them?
Cash-back as a concept is still nascent in India compared to the west. Often patient confuse cash-back and points.
You do NOT earn points with MediCash.in. You earn hard cash. If you were to spend INR 1,00,000 at a hospital and you receive 10% cash-back on it. Then, you get INR 10,000 hard cash, back into your bank account. The process is simple and can be tracked every step of the way via your mobile or by logging in to your medicash.in account on our website. In certain cases the benefit is earned as an upfront discount on the bill itself.
MediCash.in is not purely an e-commerce portal. You do not need have an email or be an internet user, you can simply use your mobile to efficiently use our service.
Given that we cover all healthcare verticals and you save money on everything from consultation fees to diagnostic tests and pharmacy spends, we feel this is of use to every person. We request patients to do their bit and help spread the word so that someone out there who in need of this service, can benefit and in turn reduce their expense burden.