[Startup Bharat] Karaikudi-based Treat at Home aims to be the Amazon of healthcare services
Technological advancements and the easy availability of data have spoilt internet users for choice. Ecommerce platforms offer multiple options for buying anything, be it a chair, a gadget, or coffee. If we can invest so much time browsing for these things, why limit our choices when it comes to healthcare?
Based out of Karaikudi, a municipality in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu, Treat at Home (TAH) is an aggregator of healthcare providers. It claims to be the “Amazon of healthcare”. An on-demand healthtech platform, TAH makes healthcare services available at the patient’s doorstep.
TAH, which has a corporate office in Chennai, provides eight different healthcare services at home and has so far facilitated more than 3,500 bookings since inception.
The eureka moment
M Saleem Mohamed, 50, completed his MBBS from Madurai Medical College. He went on to do his MS (Ortho) at Calicut Medical College, and finally MCh Ortho and an MBA. He founded pharmaceutical company Queen Pharma, which was later amalgamated with Regenix Drugs in 2014.
“For years, I have been treating NRI patients. They get their surgeries done here and return abroad after spending a short period of time in India. Follow-ups have mostly been through telemedicine,” Saleem says. Many of his patients are senior citizens, with children working abroad. “Elderly patients need help with healthcare, and that led to the foundation of TAH,” he says.
Saleem founded the healthtech startup on April 28, 2018. He did the beta testing of the app and website between April 2018 and June 2019. The final product was launched on September 1, 2019. The healthtech startup has been bootstrapped since inception with Rs 60 lakh.
Currently, Saleem is also Director at Regenix Drugs. Besides that, he is also Executive Director of Kauvery Medical Centre, the Karaikudi Hospital Group, Tamil Nadu.
The startup has a team of six, taking care of the admininstration, customer support, and marketing. Dilip Chandar, the CTO, is an experienced tech entrepreneur and previously co-founded Iniwu Labs, DICE Money, and AnalyIQ Coders. C Balanchander, who has experience of over 15 years as a chartered accountant, is the CFO at TAH.
TAH provides eight different healthcare services: home doctor visits, nurses, caretakers, home physiotherapy sessions, ambulance booking, medicine delivery, and diagnostic services. It also enables users to book hospital appointments prior to the visits.
Both healthcare service providers and users/patients need to register on the platform. Users can use the Android or iOS app, or simply visit the website to select services. On selecting their location, users are provided with a list of healthcare service providers available in their location.
Users can either select the provider themselves or go with the provider automatically assigned. Once the booking is confirmed, users can either opt for online payment or pay after the services have been delivered. TAH allows users to track providers in the map until delivery.
The terms and conditions of the services are available in English, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, and Telugu.
TAH is also working on developing a remote patient monitoring system. “With the use of a wearable medical device, doctors can continuously monitor the vital stats of users. This would be useful for elderly patients and pregnant women, who need constant monitoring and support,” Saleem explains.
The story so far
TAH mostly targets patients needing home care for a terminal illness, post-surgical recovery, cancer chemotherapy, or elderly patients living alone. It acquired its first set of customers through hospitals advising home care of discharged patients.
“We reached out to remote places in Tamil Nadu and old-age homes where healthcare was less accessible,” Saleem says.
Initially, Saleem faced challenges in ensuring the credibility and quality of the service providers to users. For that, TAH cross-checks every service provider it on-boards and verifies government-issued certificates.
“Each service is checked for quality and complaints are addressed within a day’s time. We remove providers with bad reviews, after verifying them,” Saleem says. “This improves customer trust and adds brand value in the market,” he adds.
TAH charges 20 percent from providers, for each booking confirmed. Its other revenue streams include advertisements. Future revenue streams will include home care insurance, annual registration fee from providers, and sale or service of wearable medical devices.
“Currently, as a marketing strategy, TAH is being promoted as a free service till it reaches a sizable market,” Saleem says.
So far, TAH has more than 7,000 users and 5,000 healthcare providers registered in its platform. According to Saleem, the Android app has been downloaded over 15,000 times and the platform has more than 6,000 unique visitors every month. At present, TAH receives up to 30 bookings every day.
According to the founder, the current revenue is Rs 40,000 per month, through direct customer bookings. It is targeting Rs 6 crore, after monetising existing clients. “We are currently recording 30 percent profit,” Saleem says.
With the coronavirus pandemic spreading across India, TAH has recorded a 40 percent rise in the number of online bookings. Demand for telemedicine consultations has also increased.
Market overview and future plans
The healthcare market in India is expected to reach $372 billion by 2022. This will be driven by rising incomes, greater health awareness, rise in lifestyle diseases, and access to insurance.
TAH competes with the likes of Mfine, Practo, PharmEasy, 1 mg, Portea, Care24, and Nightingales.
However, Saleem believes that TAH has a differentiator to offer. “We do not employ, but aggregate existing healthcare providers to allow patients to select their best fit services,” he says.
Currently focused on Tamil Nadu, TAH plans to gain prominence in the other southern states by the end of this year. It aims to expand to Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, and Nagpur by next year.
Saleem says he wants to make TAH a unicorn in the healthtech space.
“We have set a goal to reach one lakh downloads and 30,000 bookings by July this year,” he says. The startup is also expecting to raise $1 million, with 30 percent dilution in equity.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)