[The Turning Point] How a broken surgery process led to the launch of healthtech unicorn Pristyn Care

The Turning Point is a series of short articles that focus on the moment when an entrepreneur hits upon their winning idea. Today, we look at Gurugram-based healthtech startup Pristyn Care, which recently entered the unicorn club.

Gurugram-based healthtech startup Pristyn Care was anointed the 42nd unicorn of 2021 after it raised $96 million in its Series E round from the likes of Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management, Winter Capital, Epiq Capital, Hummingbird Ventures,Trifecta Capital, and angel investors likes Kunal Shah, Founder and CEO, CRED; Deepinder Goyal, Co-founder and CEO, Zomato; Abhiraj Singh Bhal, Co-founder and CEO, Urban Company; and Varun Alagh, Co-founder and CEO, Mamaearth.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have put the spotlight on India’s broken healthcare system, but serial entrepreneur Harsimarbir Singh and doctors Dr Vaibhav Kapoor and Dr Garima Sawhney saw this massive gap early on. They launched healthtech startup Pristyn Care in August 2018 as “treatment” for India’s unorganised healthcare sector, which clearly lacked a patient-first approach. 

“As most people are treated at small owner-operated private facilities, the patient experience is at times really frustrating. The service they get is pretty substandard. We started Pristyn in an attempt to fix this,” Harsh says.

“The entire journey is fundamentally broken. And that is something that has energised us to keep focusing on fixing this,” he adds.

End-to-end support

How does the startup ensure this? It provides end-to-end support services such as diagnostics support, complete health insurance, claims processing, hospital admission paperwork from the comfort of home, cab pick-up and drop for surgery, medicine delivery at home, and free post-surgery consultation.

Harsh explains people with connections inside the hospital or doctors often get access to better care in the medical ecosystem.

“Anybody’s financial condition, background, and gender does not matter to us. If you are with Pristyn, every patient is special; it stands for fairness. Every patient who comes to Pristyn gets a 'Personal Care Buddy', who supports the patient from the first consultation to the time they go back home post-surgery,” he adds.

In the early days, the trio was doing everything on their own, be it surgeries, coordination, consultations, or monitoring surgeries, which according to Harsh, helped see the problem first hand and lay the foundation of creating a team of outliers. 

“Everything you see at Pristyn today is because we saw that problem on the ground,” Harsh says. 

He shares an instance from the early days where a senior citizen patient was developing cold feet before the surgery. His son called the co-founders, asking how he could be dropped to the hospital. Normal people could take cabs, but not patients. 

Harsh says what makes Pristyn special is that there is a group to look after patients, and that since that call the pick-and-drop from home has been added as part of the offering.

Founders of Pristyn Care

The startup soon grabbed investor attention shortly and Pristyn’s valuation has more than doubled in the last seven months – it now stands at $1.4 billion. 

Pristyn Care claims to have scaled 5X since January 2021 and expects to be profitable in the next 12-18 months. At present, it operates via 150+ clinics and 700+ partner hospitals, with a panel of 300+ experienced doctors who work exclusively for the company.

The healthtech startup is now focusing on expansion to 50+ cities/towns, and aspires to reach 1,000+ surgical centres and five million patient interactions by March 2022. It aims to strengthen its surgical technology to ensure faster patient recovery, shorter hospital stay, and create the smoothest surgery experience possible for patients and their families.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai