Like a lot of travelling executives, Dhruv Kumar would sometimes feel the need to consult a doctor. However, it was difficult to find a reliable doctor and post a query online. “I came across yahoo answers but they were predominantly questions and answers from simple users. There wasn’t any trusted portal where I could just simply post an issue and get an answer from a real doctor,” says Dhurv.
Dhruv thought of starting an online portal that could help people like him seeking a doctor’s appointment. Later in summer of 2010, Dhruv formed a company, icliniq. It’s a virtual platform that brings doctor and patient together online in real time. Individuals can seek their advice online or consult them over the phone and HD video if they have an urgent health concern that requires immediate consultation.
Dhruv initially outsourced the website and backend development work to a Coimbatore-based startup which didn’t work out. Going forward he decided to form his own team and by November 2011 he launched icliniq a simple platform where a doctor and a patient can register.
“We actually thought that once we announce it on facebook, our friends and relatives would start using icliniq. They all appreciated the concept but none used the platform. The question of trustworthy doctors and data security were their concerns. Moreover, we could not get doctors on board easily,” says Dhruv. Initially doctors joined icliniq because of Dhruv’s cajoling but he noticed that they did not appreciate the concept like he did.
“It took us almost one year to realize that we needed a serious introspection. I was always convinced with this concept and realized that we had a serious problem with our obsession that we are a technology company,” adds Dhruv. From there he started understanding icliniq as a healthcare company and to use technology to deliver health in a different way.
“We trained the doctors to be tele-health savvy. Since it was a new industry, we had to find our own path. Even then we were not getting many video consultations. We were talking to a lot of doctors and the people who visited our website and noticed that we had an entry barrier,” adds Dhruv.
Later, the company pivoted to written queries and brought in phone consultation model instead of video consultation. This actually helped icliniq to grow.
How icliniq works for doctors & patients?
A doctor has to just register at icliniq.com (there is a stringent verification process and a system to make them tele-health savvy. Tele-health is answering health issues without a physical touch), and ask the right questions to solve the issue for a patient. His dashboard displays the queries and consultations he has to do.
A patient can simply post his health issue or doubt on icliniq for free in 160 characters. He can also book a consultation call-back or book a video consultation. He can also post his health issue directly to a doctor.
Traction and revenue model
As of now, the platform has offered consultations to more than 50,000 patients, and 25 percent of them are foreign national. “At present,10percent of our patient base are paying customers. We have paying customers from almost all the major countries in the world. India, USA and the Middle East form a huge patient base on icliniq,” reveals Dhruv.
The company charges platform fee which it deducts and pays the remaining to the doctors. “We are not profitable yet as the main goal was fine tuning the model of online healthcare and building a business around it,” adds Dhruv.