Here’s how BestDoc is improving hospital experience in the GCC region
BestDoc is an omnichannel patient engagement platform that is streamlining operations for both patients and hospitals.
The healthcare sector in the GCC is growing at a fast pace amidst an ageing and expanding population. As per a whitepaper published by the Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), healthcare spending in the GCC is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% to $99.6 billion in 2023 from $86.2 billion in 2020. The UAE and Saudi Arabia would command approximately 80% share of this total spending. Compared to this, India’s budget allocation for healthcare in 2022-23 was only about $10 million (Rs 86,201 crore).
Spotting an opportunity in the GCC healthcare market, Kerala-based startup BestDoc decided to be a part of the region’s growing healthcare ecosystem and improve it further.
“The per capita expenditure on healthcare in the GCC is almost six times higher than in India. Our aim is to not just cater to the patients, but also bring in operational efficiency and further reduce the spending on non-clinical expenditures involved in hospital visits,” says Afsal Salu, Co-founder of BestDoc.
BestDoc is an omnichannel patient engagement platform that streamlines hospital visits–right from registration to discharge for both patients and hospitals. It partners with hospitals to collect feedback from patients, which helps hospitals to improve their services.
Since its launch in the Middle East three months ago, BestDoc has partnered with hospitals like Burjeel Hospital and Emirates International Hospitals, to name a few.
In December 2022, BestDoc won the Innov8Talks Startup Competition held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for its product ‘Concierge’. It was a part of the Global Health Exhibition where the team competed with 24 startups from Asia and Europe.
Supported by Kerala Startup Mission, the startup raised $2.1 million in September 2020 from Accel Partners and Arkam Ventures, and existing investor SEA Fund. The 60-member team of BestDoc is spread across India and the UAE.
BestDoc offers two products–BestDoc Patient Survey and BestDoc Concierge.
Similar to Survey Monkey or Google Forms, BestDoc Survey captures the experience of in-patients and outpatients visiting the hospital. The responses are then analysed by the BestDoc team and presented to the hospitals to improve their patient care. BestDoc Surveys is priced at $10,000 per hospital annually in the GCC.
The other product, called BestDoc Concierge, is for the attendees of patients and hospitals. It is a browser-friendly interface that attendees can use for placing requests such as housekeeping, ordering food, maintenance, and more.
“Due to Concierge, hospitals are able to meet the different needs much more efficiently. Especially after the pandemic when the workload of nurses has increased manifold, such a system is also giving them a breather and allowing them to tend to more clinical needs of patients than only changing linens,” Salu says.
Concierge is available for an annual subscription to hospitals, which is somewhere between $3,000 to $6,000 in India and around $15,000 in the UAE. The team did not share its revenue details.
The products have been integrated with nine distribution channels including WhatsApp, SMS, QR scan codes, and an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Once the patient registers with the hospital, they receive a link on their SMS or WhatsApp that takes them to the web-based platform. Additionally, they can also scan a QR code to access the survey and the Concierge platform.
How it started?
In 2016, Salu started BestDoc as a B2C platform with his wife Soudabi N and friend Fayaz Bin Abdu to help people find the right doctors and book appointments in hospitals across Kerala. But they soon realised that the model worked only in Tier I cities while Tier II and III towns were still lagging behind in terms of healthcare digital adoption.
Hailing from a family of medical professionals who owned a family hospital, Salu also felt that an average patient had to interact with almost five to six different people, including a call centre, admission desks, nurses, doctors, lab specialists, and pharmacists, for a single medical visit. But none of these touch points had a standardised workflow.
“In India, there is a nurse ‘calling bell’, which is kept next to the hospital beds. When patients get admitted, the nurse becomes the sole point of contact for everything, be it housekeeping needs, fixing the AC, or assisting the patient to the restroom. The nurse runs around attending to these needs and delegating these tasks to the right teams. We realised that 60 to 80% of these tasks could be delegated to the right teams only if they are contacted directly,” Salu said.
This prompted the team to pivot to a B2B model in 2017 to help hospitals improve their digital healthcare adoption.
In India, BestDoc has partnered with more than 250 hospitals such as Apollo, Aster Medcity, Narayana Health, Motherhood, and more across 18 states in India. It has served over 4.2 million patients.
Expanding to the Gulf
Salu says that BestDoc’s expansion in the Middle East was a very natural decision because of the strong symbiotic relationship between India and the Gulf region.
“Hailing from Kerala, I have seen every household having at least one family member working in one of the Middle Eastern countries. Moreover, some of the hospitals that we work with also have branches in the region. So, it was natural for us to expand our services to the region,” he says.
To tap into the population further, BestDoc products are also made available in Arabic in the region.
The startup competes with the likes of US-based companies such as Press Ganey, Qualtrics, Ireland-headquartered Oneview Healthcare, France-based Hoppen, and Bengaluru-based TreatWell in the GCC region.
As per Allied Market Research, the global healthcare customer relationship management (CRM) market will clock $37,624.0 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 14.1% from 2021 to 2030.
As BestDoc plans to expand further in India and the Middle East, the next countries in sight include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and a few countries in Southeast Asia.
BestDoc hopes to serve more than 100 million patients in the next five to seven years. For this, it is looking for partnership opportunities with more than a thousand Joint Commission International of JCI-accredited hospitals that have a worldwide presence.
BestDoc also hopes to clock about $15 million worth of annual recurring revenue (ARR) in the next five years.
(Cover image designed by Chetan Singh.
Founders' illustrations by Amal Mathew, UI/UX Designer at BestDoc.)
(Disclaimer: An earlier version noted the headquarters wrong. It has been corrected as Kerala-based.)
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Edited by Megha Reddy