This Mumbai healthcare startup is simplifying speciality surgeries with personal care
The tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Z population turn to their smartphones for almost every answer and need.
Dr Neeta Modi, too, noticed this inclination towards “looking up online” rapidly increasing among the general public. For over three decades, Neeta has been working as the Medical Director of Multispeciality Hospital in Goregaon, Mumbai.
Thus, when Dr Prothom Chakravorty reached out to her with the idea to build an online platform to help patients throughout their treatment journey at hospitals, Neeta was quick to join the digital bandwagon.
Founded in February 2021, healthcare startup House of Doctors provides hassle-free assistance to patients who need surgeries — from consultation, getting admitted to hospitals to treatment, till they get discharged for free.
At present, the Mumbai-based startup focuses on speciality areas, including proctology, varicose veins, hernia, urology, cosmetic surgery, and orthopaedics.
How it works
An MBBS with a diploma in anaesthesiology, Neeta says as most doctors have spent nearly a decade studying in the medical field, they have little business know-how to market their services, while the demand for online services has been on the rise.
House of Doctor connects patients with the right doctor and hospital for consultation and diagnosis. Neeta says the customer service representative, or counsellor, is the first point of contact for patients, and it is a vital step in the process.
As patients start their journey, they are assigned a care buddy, who accompanies them throughout the process — from ensuring doctor appointments, taking care of all the needs as they go through any surgery or treatment to its completion.
“A care buddy is like a family. They wait outside the operation theatre with fruits, juice, and whatever is required. You do not get such personal service in any hospital, and I felt it was required, in my experience as a doctor. Patients already undergo mental stress from the surgery. Having someone to help that way can be a huge relief,” she adds.
After two months of ideating and four months into the operation since April, the startup has reached about 140 patients and has helped with 40 surgeries so far.
According to Neeta, a robust digital and social media presence with a well-informed counsellor have worked for the startup so far. “Ensuring a good first experience helps spread awareness through word-of-mouth,” she adds.
Navigating the pandemic market
Although a customer-facing startup, House of Doctors’ main source of revenue is from the partnership it has forged with hospitals, which helps them build a brand and maintains a unique service with the company.
It has partnered with hospitals, including Surana Hospitals, SRV Hospitals, Kapadia Hospitals, Parakh Hospital, and Fortune Plus Hospital, among others.
However, Neeta emphasises that a patient’s need is prioritised while choosing the right service, and the startup would not suggest any alternate treatment or surgery if it is not necessary.
“Sometimes, patients insist that certain other doctors or clinics have said laser treatment can be done, but we see to it through our consultancy, even though it might hamper our business growth. We don't want to change our ways just to have more customers on board,” she says, adding there are only a few competitors in this segment, and the market can do with some more competition.
Neeta says the first two months of operations was difficult as the COVID-19 cases were on the rise. Despite the second wave, the startup entered the market as it had hired most of its team, and the business soon picked up in June and July.
“This is because we are catering to patients going through surgery, which are not emergency cases. For example, hernia, piles, knee replacement, etc., are not urgent cases, and people prefered to wait for around six months when COVID-19 cases were running high, which is not wrong,” she explains.
Dr Neeta Modi, co-founder of House of Doctors
In India, the digital healthcare market was valued at Rs 116 billion in 2018 and is expected to touch Rs 485 billion by 2024, according to Invest India.
Presently operating in Mumbai, House of Doctors ventured into Indore in July. However, it has put its operation on a halt as the dangers of the third COVID-19 wave looms high.
Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of clarity in the coverage of most insurance policies poses another challenge for the patients. Therefore, the startup prefers to work with hospitals that facilitate cashless transactions.
However, the founder duo is not losing sight of the opportunity that lies ahead.
Bootstrapped so far, House of Doctors aim to expand across India, depending on how and when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. It also hopes to raise funds from external investors to support its expansion plans.