"In 2013-14, as per reports available, the healthcare market size was $80 billion. By 2017, this number is expected to be $170 billion. Approximately 25% of this falls in the e-healthcare segment. This number is expected to grow, as more services are increasingly offered through the internet." explained Suvro Ghosh, talking about the market size of his startup.
HelpMeDoc is a platform for doctors, patients, and labs. It lets them communicate with each other. Doctors and labs registered with the platform enter their details through their backend. These are seen by the patients on the portal. Patients can search for doctors or labs based on their needs, book online and get a confirmation through SMS and email. They offer online payment options for all their services, and users can also pay doctors or labs in cash. The portal’s services are currently available in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
From idea to execution
The startup was co-founded by Suvro, and Manisha Saxena, in 2009. They started working on the pilot runs in 2013. Suvro comes from a middle class family in West Bengal and had started his own venture, an SSI manufacturing unit in Howrah, his home town, at the age of 18. On shifting to Delhi, he found it difficult to book appointments with doctors, labs for tests. Running around to book appointments frustrated him. In his earlier stints, Suvro, in a sales and marketing job in an agency, had interacted with VIP clients , and had overseen HR and administration for a petrochemical company. He took a gamble, and though he had no prior experience in healthcare, decided to start HelpMeDoc.
Suvro and Manisha have worked together for the last 10 years. Thus, they decided to enter the e-healthcare segment together. He said:
Her strength is in the technology side. She has been an architect and owner of complex B2B and B2C websites. So, while I use my skills for business plans and implementation, she brings to life the thought process and executes it. Doctors, labs, and VCs as well as users, are encouraging us for providing these online healthcare services under one roof.
In their early days, they faced multiple challenges, the biggest of which was making people believe that all verticals - doctors, labs and patients - could be handled under one umbrella. Suvro added: “There have been fall backs, discouragements from known people and friends, but I never thought of giving up. Our earlier days were a lot more problematic. As of now, HelpMeDoc is bootstrapped. But, certainly, each day holds new challenges.”
The healthcare sector has seen a lot of activity in the recent past. Recently, Ahmedabad-based La Renon Healthcare secured funding of Rs 100 crore from Sequoia Capital, Practo, backed by Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners, is looking to hire 1000 employees in 2015, and Meena Ganesh and Krishnan Ganesh’s home healthcare company Portea Medical raised funding from Qualcomm last year. Then, there are more recent players in this segment like PlexusMD, a Naukri.com for doctors, and end-to-end healthcare solution provider Zywie.
HelpMeDoc’s services are free for patients. Some services are free for doctors, but their premium services ‘DocPractice’ - practice management software (PMS) - is provided to the doctors on a yearly subscription basis. This service allows doctors to maintain and keep track of their prescription, bills, and appointments digitally, and access them at any time.
They charge admin fees from their empanelled labs and imaging centres on each transaction booked through HelpMeDoc. They currently offer four types of health cards, keeping in mind various requirements of different segments and age group of people. To reach out to a larger audience, they used mainly digital marketing and complemented it with word of mouth publicity, and one-to-one meeting with doctors and labs. They also offer discounts upto 25% on tests booked through their website.
In last four months, HelpMeDoc has registered 6500+ doctors, including paid members who are using their premium services, and 35+ labs. They have had 250,000 page views in last four months, and are adding 50% new users every month. They are now approaching investors about spreading the network pan-India, and adding other verticals to the site.
They aim to grow their network and make healthcare more accessible to everyone. Five years down the line, they hope to see HelpMeDoc becoming a household name in India and abroad. Currently their services are available only on the web, and they are planning to launch a mobile app in the future.
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