Practo Technologies: Healthcare for Internet Savvies

Practo Technologies: Healthcare for Internet Savvies

Indians are moving to the Internet to access information at a very fast pace, and the number of Indians accessing health information & services through the internet is only going to go up in the coming years. Hence, health portals are set to play an important role in providing such health information and services to the growing Internet accessing population in India. Considering such a market opportunity, Practo Technologies is formed. Shashank ND, CEO of Practo Technologies shares his journey as an entrepreneur with Faiz Askari of SMEStreet.

Excerpts:

How did you started Practo Technologies? What was the main driver for this venture?

In early 2008, I was frantically getting together my father’s medical records and scanning them. I wanted to get a second opinion from an American physician, for an operation that my father was about to undertake.

If that’s not bad enough, I was also unable to access enough information about the doctor, to make an informed decision before putting my father’s life in the doctor’s hands.

While most of us experience such agonising moments of indecision and helplessness, this incident urged me and my classmate Abhinav Lal, to set up Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd. We founded the company in Bengaluru, in 2008, while we were still college students in our final year of engineering (B.Tech, computer engineering) at National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, India (NIT-K).

We dreamt of a day when every patient has access to all medical records, when he/she can seamlessly find and choose a new doctor through informed decision-making and be able to pass on medical history and records at a click.

What is the differentiating element of Practo Technologies from the competition?

Though numerous players have come into the practice management space since Practo Ray began but Practo’s razor sharp focus on product quality and support has enabled it to maintain a steady lead. We have consistently have 85 per cent to 90 per cent happy support ratings on our customer queries. Every ticket and query is tracked and resolved within a set internal service-level agreement. Customers rate each interaction and give us a rating. The second factor is that growth and brand awareness has primarily happened because of word of mouth, references and testimonials from customers, most of whom are leading opinion leaders and influencers in their field. Practo Ray has 10,000+ doctors on the system; over 10 million electronic patient records (doubling every year) have been created, over 6 million unique patients and over 10 million appointments are being made every year.

`Practo Ray is a market pioneer in the practice management segment, and is currently considered the gold  standard in its category.

Key differentiators: Intuitive & easy to use, yet feature-rich & comprehensive; anywhere access with cloud technology & mobile apps; robust technology back-end with 128-bit encryption & bank-level security.

Practo.com is the only patient-centric doctor discovery and real-time appointment booking platform to help patients make an informed choice. Practo.com has over 1,00,000 doctors listed from over 310 Indian towns and cities, with comprehensive coverage from the metros of Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Singapore. It has over 1.3 million pageviews and 30,000 appointments booked every month, with traffic growing at 24 per cent per month.

Key differentiators: Free for both patients & doctors; comprehensive & verified information; instant    online appointment booking with ABS technology

What is the financial model and revenue structure for this project? Who all are listed on Practo Technologies? 

Practo Platform has two distinct business mode currently active:

  1. For healthcare providers: Practo Ray, a practice management SaaS, delivered in 2 variants:
  2. A free appointment schedule manager which enables real time online appointment booking through a practo.com profile.
  3. Premium software product that encompasses the complete practice management suite, retailed on a subscription based SaaS model.
  4. For patients: Practo.com, a free-for-use web portal.

All features of the website are completely free for both providers and patients. Traffic is monetized through sponsored listings and contextual advertisements that are independent of the organic listings.

Please explain about the Practo Technologies’s partnership with doctors and hospitals?

Practo lists medical and allied healthcare professionals and healthcare practices in an unbiased listing format. Practo does not charge either parties for any service. Medical practices & companies can however opt for sponsored listings which are contextual advertisements displayed in clearly demarcated areas of the website.

How much you have already invested in your start-up? Did you raised capital for this or are you planning to raise capital? 

We started with a seed capital of Rs. 10 Lakh from family and friends. We raised a Series A round from Sequoia Capital worth approximately Rs. 25 cr. We are also in talks for another funding round, details of which cannot be made public yet.

What are the new trends regarding the online healthcare industry?

Indians are moving to the internet to access information at a very fast pace, and the number of Indians accessing health information & services through the internet is only going to go up in the coming years.

Hence, the health portals will play an important role in providing such health information & services to the growing internet accessing population in India. With the help of technology, health portals will be able to play a significant role in improving the overall experience for the patients and doctors.

Indian healthcare is also experiencing a great transformation, with the application of newer, better IT systems and application, and adoption of IT has become one of the top priorities for healthcare companies. The healthcare sector spend is projected to grow to nearly $40 billion, which throws up a lot of opportunities for IT players as more and more healthcare practices adopt information technology apart from medical technology.

Moreover, with new and upcoming applications such as electronic medical records (EMR) and e-prescriptions, IT investments on software would further increase with a focus on integrated billing and seamless online availability of patient records. As patient education and insurance penetration simultaneously increase, the demand for EMR is anticipated to increase robustly.

How much growth rate you are expecting in coming years?

Recently, we launched a tablet under the brand Practo Tab for hospitals and clinics, which patients can use to register themselves, watch healthcare videos and give feedback, among other services.

Apart from targeting new segments and releasing more products, Practo is looking to grow its domestic and overseas presence.

We entered Singapore market around 18 months ago. We are now the largest online clinic management software provider in terms of market share. We are looking at entering one more country by later this year or early next year—we are looking at the markets of Philippines, Malaysia and the Middle East.

In India, Practo has a presence in the top six cities and plans to expand its presence in tier II cities. We will expand to around 6-12 tier II cities like Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Cochin in 12-18 months. Practo could look at raising more capital in 12-18 months. However, most of the expansion would come from internal accrual. We have been growing 50-100 per cent quarter on quarter, and are looking to close this fiscal year at Rs 20 crore.

How many unique/new visitors you have earned in 4-5 months? What is the percentage of returning visitors?

Practo.com receives more than 5,00,000 unique visitors per month, and traffic has been growing at 24% per month. Around 35% visitors are returning visitors.

What are next level action plan to make this initiative successful?

Practo aims to be the one stop destination for patients to find their doctors, research about them and book online appointments. Moving towards this goal, we will be ensuring that we reach out to as many patients as possible through all possible media, using a sustained marketing campaign. This would help increase awareness among patients and also help the healthcare ecosystem. Earlier last month, Practo launched a tablet under the brand Practo Tab for hospitals and clinics, which patients can use to register themselves, watch healthcare videos and give feedback, among other services.

Apart from targeting new segments and releasing more products, Practo is looking to grow its domestic and overseas presence.

We entered Singapore market around 18 months ago. We are now the largest online clinic management software provider in terms of market share. We are looking at entering one more country by later this year or early next year—we are looking at the markets of Philippines, Malaysia and the Middle East. In India, Practo has a presence in the top six cities and plans to expand its presence in tier II cities.

In terms of collaborations, we are actively seeking content partnerships across the healthcare industry.