A healthcare startup that is making elective surgeries affordable
In India, healthcare cost continues to be a key factor for a majority of people. Most patients often ignore or delay elective surgeries due to lack of accessibility and high cost of treatment. Elective surgeries or general surgeries are not life threatening and can be scheduled according to the patient’s convenience in most cases, but they can lead to complications if not done on time.
Healthcare startuppromises to bring down these surgery costs substantially with an asset light model, where both patients and surgeons stand to benefit.
The New Delhi-based startup was founded in February this year by Bidhan Chowdhury and Dr Atul Peters, who know each other professionally over the years.
Till now, TaCa Healthcare has done around 60-70 surgeries, and plans to take it to more than 200 each month.
The entrepreneurs started up as they believed the segment of elective surgeries is ready for disruption in terms of cost and care.
Their confidence stems from the fact that Bidhan has been a healthcare industry professional and Dr Atul has been a surgeon for over two decades.
Bidhan, who has been successfully running healthcare setups in the Middle East, had the urge to do something in the sector back home in India, but with a differentiation. He says, the present structure of a large hospital, especially those in the private sector, does not allow them to offer elective surgeries at a lower cost.
This motivated them to start TaCa Healthcare. The co-founders started up with an initial investment of $6 million.
Redefining patient care
According to Bidhan, it is estimated that about 271 million elective surgeries are done each year in India.
A hospital generally has three segments of care--primary, secondary, and tertiary. Most patients come under the primary (general visits to hospitals) and secondary care (for chronic patients who need specialist consultation), and only a smaller number goes into tertiary, where the surgeries are done. As these hospitals manage all these segments, there is a cost involved and it becomes difficult for them to provide a cheaper option.
“Until elective surgeries come out of the grip of large hospitals, one cannot reduce their costs,” says Bidhan.
At the same time, elective surgeries do not have an immediate need, but patients demand a higher level of service with the expectation that it is cost effective.
Bidhan says some of these surgeries can be done in a span of 15 minutes and do not require an extended period of hospitalisation. But there are surgeons who are not being utilised to their full potential. Bidhan claims that on an average, surgeons get to do only 10-15 surgeries a month.
Given this environment, TaCa Healthcare is keen to rework the entire dynamics of the elective surgery segment and ensure it offers affordable and superior service to people.
How it works?
The startup leverages various digital technologies to bring patients to its platform. It also has a panel of surgeons who will answer all queries the patients may have.
TaCa Healthcare has created a model where it sets up smaller facilities to do these elective surgeries and has a panel of surgeons as well. Unlike a large hospital, the startup need not set up an expensive operation theater (OT) to perform these surgeries, and it plans to take up OTs on a rental basis from smaller hospitals.
Bidhan claims the company is able to do these elective surgeries at a cost which are similar to Ayushman Bharat pricing. He says, a lap chole surgery costs Rs 18,500 as per Ayushman Bharat scheme, while the same can extend up to Rs one lakh in a private hospital.
TaCa Healthcare provides short-stay elective surgeries such as gall bladder stone removal surgery, hernia repair/ removal surgery, appendix removal surgery, etc.
“Our vision is to bring down the cost of elective surgeries by 30 percent and this is possible by leveraging technology,” says Bidhan.
The market and business model
According to a report by NITI Aayog, the size of surgery market is estimated to be around $100 billion, of which close to 40 percent come under the elective category.
TaCa Healthcare began its operations in New Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, with 12 surgeons onboard. In Delhi alone, it has 15 such set-ups and has its operations in places like Bhopal, Indore, and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. Now, it has expanded into Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. The startup has 50-member team for now.
In terms of getting patients on the platform, TaCa Healthcare will focus on those who would like to pay in cash and others who are covered through insurance. For the cash segment, the proposition is that they can get the surgeries done in a cost-effective manner. In case of patients who have insurance, it plans to reach out to the insurance companies by telling them their payout will be lower if they go through their platform rather than a large hospital.
“Our top priority will always be the quality of service. As our overhead cost is low we are able to do these surgeries at a competitive rate,” says Bidhan.
The model of TaCa Healthcare is also beneficial to the surgeons as the volume of patients is high. Bidhan says surgeons need not worry about the inflow of patients and can focus only on the surgery aspect.
There are others in the elective surgery space like Glamyo and Pristyn Care to name a few who provide similar service. However, Bidhan claims TaCa Healthcare does not follow an aggregator model where patients and surgeons are bought on one platform, but owns the entire set up end-to-end.
TaCa Healthcare plans to expand to 40-45 cities by the end of this year. It does not plan to raise any external round of funding in the near future as it would like to establish its base first. The startup believes these are early days and the big challenge is to convince the prospective patients about their value proposition.
“We are a surgeon driven company and the comfort we provide to the patients starts right from their home,” says Bidhan.