Lack of advice should never deter one’s medical choices. Thus, Practo was launched to make the choice easier by comparisons. By YUGANSHA MALHOTRA
Incidents related to health, always have the capacity to stumble us and make us look for various different possibilities to one problem, at times the presence or lack of availabilities leave us in a dilemma. One such incident was faced by Shashank, when he required second opinion on the operation that his father was going to undertake. Lack of any means to consult various other doctors and to get a review upon the situation, he was baffled by the disinterest of the IT sector in this field. With this motive, Shashank and Abhinav Lal, set up Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd. The duo founded the company in Bengaluru, in 2008, when they were still college students in their final year of engineering at National Institute of Technology, Karnataka. Practo aims to be the one stop destination for patients to find their doctors, research about them and book online appointments. It starts with helping them find the best doctors and culminates into a single intelligent healthcare account for the entire family that securely stores all their healthcare data so they can make better healthcare decisions.
Practo’s USP lies in the products that assist doctors in managing their practice and medical records on one hand, and also helps the patients to locate doctors closest to them. Practo has two parts to it, the dualism aids the patient to find a doctor and enable them to connect with 50,000 doctors across India and also provide the doctors with software that manages the patient experience better at the centre. Practo does this with the help of three breakthrough SaaS(softwareas- a-service) products. The venture’s flagship product Practo Ray is a practice management one which helps doctors to register new patients, book and update appointment calendars and even maintain electronic medical records which is priced at Rs 1000 per month. The service has vowed 40,000 doctors across eight cities and helped manage three million patient records till date. Practo Hello, India’s first cloud based call management system for doctors is also a part of the package.
With 1,25,000 calls made so far, this software allows patients to book appointments 24/7, which are automatically updated at the clinic. The third product is Practo Groups which is a dedicated online platform for health professionals and communities to come together on an online forum.
Practo’s razor sharp focus on product quality and support has enabled it to maintain a steady lead and being one of a kind to present the idea, enabled them to raise $4 million in July 2012. It has over 1,00,000 doctors registered from over 310 Indian towns and cities. Complying themselves with extensive coverage from the metropolitan cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, they have managed to gain monopoly over the involvement of IT in the health sector. It has over 1.3 million page views and 30,000 appointments booked every month, with traffic growing at 24 per cent per month. The company has seven offices, in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Singapore. They entered Singapore market around 18 months ago and are now, the largest online clinic management software provider in terms of market share. They thrive with aim of entering the markets of Philippines, Malaysia and the Middle East of hitting USD 10 million revenue mark by 2016.
Wanting to hold their monopoly in this sector, and wading off the new competitors, Practo has been looking for ways which would make them the forerunners in the designated area. They have recently collaborated with taxihailing platform Uber, so as to enhance convenience. Across India, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, those who book an appointment on Practo’s mobile application, will be able to view the closest Uber available along with the appointment reminder alert. The partnership comes with an India-specific inaugural offer, where any existing or new user booking an appointment on Practo till November 30, will get a free ride to and fro from the doctor’s clinic. Besides, new users who book their first appointment on the Practo application can avail two free rides, up to Rs 200 a ride, with Uber till the year-end. Also, keeping their philanthropic streak intact and in action, Practo is putting together a list of doctors and hospitals to aid people during the Chennai floods.
Hospitals in India have traditionally been very reluctant to share the contents of the medical records with the patients themselves, Practo Ray has found success with private doctors and smaller clinics as they are much more willing to be open and find the service useful. Practo has won over the confidence of people by providing easy access to them, and making the tedious task of fixing up an appointment a tad lot easier.