Looking for treatment abroad? This healthtech startup may be just what the doctor ordered
Delhi-based MediGence is a patient-focused medical assistance service that helps you find the best treatment options overseas, and offers support services such as travel, stay, and insurance.
Flights, trains, hotels, guest houses - technology has made travel a piece of cake. But travelling abroad for reasons other than leisure, work, or education still remains a problem.
Amit Bansal came up against this problem in 2015 when his father was admitted to a hospital in East Delhi. “Suddenly he was declared critical with liver cirrhosis. We were in a desperate situation and wanted an opinion from a top foreign doctor, but could not find one. That incident made me think about the opportunity in this space,” Amit says.
Not long after, in November 2016, Amit connected and teamed up with Vinay Bansal, his cousin, and Vijendra Thapliyal, a friend, to launch MediGence, a healthtech startup that aims to simplify medical travel.
From getting patients a second opinion and booking an AirBnb room for the patient and family, MediGence brings all that you could need for medical treatments abroad on to a single platform. And makes it all oh-so-easy.
MediGence has partnered with travel agencies, budget hotel chains, cab aggregators, insurance companies, and others, and provides services like flight bookings and doctor appointments in foreign countries.
Amit, 39, a computer science graduate, has more than 17 years of corporate experience working for various companies, including a stint as Director of Global Sales at Prospecta Software. Vinay has worked in multiple companies in the US, including Amazon. Vijendra is a serial entrepreneur in the travel and ecommerce space in the US. He runs Tourmyindia.com, an online travel guide.
Amit says, “The biggest challenge in the initial days was the industry itself; it was driven by touts and brokers. Even doctors themselves are sometimes agents. The biggest challenge was to create a value system for global customers, to establish the trust of patients. We have seen brokers stealing away patients from airports itself. They know foreign languages and have arrangements with cab drivers.”
MediGence, on the other hand, aims to provide holistic value by bringing experts and advisors on to the tech platform.
“We answer queries of patients immediately. This has helped us to establish trust with patients,” Amit says.
How it works
MediGence offers nine destinations for medical treatment on its platform - apart from India, these include Turkey, South Korea, Singapore, UAE, Hungary, Bangkok, Germany, and Israel. It has hospital networks in these countries, and the top line comes from the US, Middle East, UK, Africa, and India. Amit says “majority of the top line comes from Africa and the US”.
He adds, “We get online leads on our platform. Our intelligent chatbot interacts with those who come to our platform; they can also fill forms online. Once we get all the details, an appropriate expert takes up the case and connects through calls, Skype, etc. We also get leads from our insurance and other partners.”
The startup has 40 doctors on its advisory panel and 200 hospitals in its network across the globe.
“I am organising consultations with top-tier doctors of the world. We have Dr Lee from Mount Elizabeth, Singapore; Dr Murad in Turkey; Dr Neeta Warty from UAE; and many others as our advisors,” Amit says.
Every month, the startup claims to serve up to 10-15 patients for treatments overseas; these can be as varied as transplantation to cardiac surgery and more.
Revenue and the market
MediGence’s go-to-market strategy is online advertising and also through partner-insurance companies. “We are partners with OYO, Airbnb, Uber, Lufthansa, Shamal Travels in Mauritius, insurance companies like Metropolitan insurance and others in Africa, and many more,” Amit says.
They work with two revenue streams: One through the fees they charge patients who seek second opinions (about $199). The second is when they get paid by hospitals (fee based on type of treatment the patient undergoes).
Amit explains that a tertiary doctor’s consultation fee is around $100 in the West. The fee model generates revenue of around $15,000 per month; it has generated a total of over $225,000 revenue since the startup’s inception.
What does the future hold?
According to Amit, the global medical tourism market is growing at 20-25 percent and is estimated at over $100 billion. While there are a few startups in the medical tourism sector, they have focused largely on patients travelling to India. Unlike them, MediGence focusses on global patients and markets, competing with Berlin-based MediGo and Russia-based IbookMed.
MediGence is bootstrapped and has 15 employees as of now. “We have not approached any investor till now. But we need investors to scale up our business. We will approach investors who can bring not just money but also value,” Amit says.
The healthtech startup also plans to soon launch an app, which will make bookings easier. “We are also launching services in South Africa and Switzerland in a month,” Amit says.