08 September 2015

Practo: A tech start-up on a mission to help mankind live healthier

By Niharika Verma

Making headlines every now and then, Practo, a Bangaluru-based tech start-up has aimed to lift a long ignored healthcare sector to improve the overall living condition of a country which is lacking to meet basic medical facilities of people in far-flung a

Indias healthcare sector is one of the last to be disrupted by technology. The rising mobile led internet penetration has given consumers access to products and services that they can avail at lightning speed. And, many segments in healthcare including Pharma are now tapping this opportunity and creating an online platform for the convenience of the consumers, said the 27-year-old Practo Founder, Shashank ND.

Renowned as Indias leading doctor discovery platform that aims to ease connect between doctors and patients, Practo has made headlines in the recent past, not only for raising funds from big investors, but for acquiring two firms; one is Genii, which is a product outsourcing firm, while the other one is FitHo Wellness, leading digital fitness solution that has over 2 million people under its umbrella from across the globe.

Giving rest to our curious quest, young entrepreneur Shashank disclosed the inside-out story of his venture, revenue model, challenges pertaining to wellness industry and much more.

Conceptualisation of Practo
We started Practo when we discovered that there was a profound need to transform the healthcare industry, and centre it on the patient we call it Patient First and this is one of the guiding lights for all decisions at Practo.

Practo has the unique advantage of having built a globally respected strong B2B software product (Practo Ray) that is tightly integrated with its much loved consumer offering (Practo Search) creating a hyperloop and connecting the entire healthcare ecosystem, while helping millions of consumers to make better healthcare decisions across the world. We are the only company (perhaps in the world) that is solving the healthcare problem simultaneously from both - the doctor as well as the patient side.

As more and more doctors have digitized their practice, it improves the consumer experience by providing them with digital health records, digital prescriptions (and reminders), easy repeat check-ups or existing appointment reminders etc. and as the patient experience improves and becomes more and more seamless, they continue visiting Practo for their healthcare needs.

The business model
In 2009, weve launched Practo Ray - a cloud based clinic management software. We kept it cloud based so that doctors didnt have to worry about software updates, hardware requirements, data security and data backups. This has allowed them to focus on what is important for their patients. Today, it is used by doctors to manage millions of patients and healthcare records every month and we hold over 90 per cent market share amongst all doctors who use software to manage their practice.

For consumers, we have Practo Search our doctor discovery platform that allows consumers to find the right doctors and book instant appointments. Weve taken the unique route of listing all doctors for free (post verification of-course), we also dont charge patients to book appointments or for doctors to receive these appointments. The entire process is absolutely free because this ensures that patients have the widest possible choice.

Further, we have expanded our offerings beyond doctor discovery to diagnostic search wherein consumers, now have access to nearly 5,000 labs across the 8 cities including the largest chains like Thyrocare, Suburban Diagnostics, SRL Labs, Metropolis and others. This will help them search by tests instead of lab name, check lab accreditation, filter results by location, home pick-up and compare test prices. With this new addition, we are moving towards our aim of becoming a single health destination for all consumers across curative, preventive, fitness and wellness segments.

USP of Practo
The problem is access to the right information about your own health as well as about the practitioner/establishment whether a doctor, a clinic or a lab test. This is the problem that Practo identified way back in 2008 and that is when we built Practo Ray. Apart from our scale, efficiency, technology prowess, one of the most important would be our data quality - the fact that we dont use third party data and rigorously verify all the data before it goes up on Practo means consumers can really trust what they see on our Platform.

Second, we quite possibly are the only platform that allows only verified feedback which means that patients reading it can rely on it for being genuine and can hence make better decisions. This feedback is also open for doctors to view and acts as a direct feedback mechanism between the patient and the doctor.

We have been successful in playing a role in bringing that shift by building world class products like Practo Ray and have proved that doctors can manage millions of patients and healthcare records every month digitally. Today we hold over 90 per cent market share amongst all doctors using software to manage their practice.

Practo has grown over 6x to become one of the fastest growing healthcare platforms in the world with millions of consumers looking to make the right healthcare choices. In addition, these numbers are growing 30-50 per cent every quarter! This holds testimony to the fact that disruptive innovation can bring a structure and change in the way an industry functions.

Revenue model of Practo
We have two revenue streams currently:

Practo Ray: A cloud based clinic management software which doctors can subscribe to. The doctors can schedule patients SMS reminders, stores the patients digital records and also allows the doctors to send e-prescriptions to the patient. It has over 90 per cent market share amongst clinics who use a software to manage their practice and currently helps doctors manage millions of patients and their healthcare records every month.

Practo Reach: It allows clinics to showcase patients hyper contextual and factual information cards about the clinic based on the user search query on Practo. It shows the user factual information on the clinic on the basis of the users search, specialty and proximity.

Challenges faced
With the aim to redefine an industry, the challenges are many but that helps us in getting better. When we started building Practo Ray, the biggest challenge (apart from gathering insights about what would be useful to doctors) was how to build a hyper-responsive product in a market where internet penetration was low and speeds not as good as what we see in many other markets. We literally counted (and still do) our performance in milliseconds to see how responsive and fast our product is and how quickly it can provide the relevant information to the user.

When building Practo.com, the biggest challenge was how we get reliable information about doctors and clinics. We wanted information to be 100 per cent reliable and accurate so we decided to build our own healthcare map of the world. We have an on-ground team that literally goes street by street, city by city, to capture doctor and clinic information which is then put through a rigorous verification system to ensure we only have genuine doctors with absolutely accurate details.

Tapping India and regions across the globe is complex, but we believe that the effort and hard work is crucial in building trust with the consumer.

Third challenge we faced was building the right infrastructure to scale our product. Were growing at an extremely fast pace. So obviously, the infrastructure, servers etc. have to keep up, while at the same time maintaining the highest levels of security and encryption. Hence, we keep a dedicated team that ensures our service is always available and is hyper responsive.

Pricing strategy of Practo
Our search product is free. As mentioned above, our two sources of revenue are Practo Ray which is offered at two price points, Rs. 999 and Rs.1, 999 per month and Practo Reach.
We are on aggressive expansion spree and in the next few months, we will add more segments to our product and will take Practo to many more international markets. We are already in three countries, within 6 months of launch in Singapore, we beat the local player there and have been the #1 doctor discovery portal there ever since. We launched Philippines just a few months ago and are already #1 in that market as well. Given the reach and the market share that we hold, we are confident that we are on a steady journey towards growth and new product offerings.

We have an asset light model - which coupled with our SaaS business gives us very healthy margins.

Technical upgradation and project scaling
We are a fast growing company. We are now present in top 35 cities in India and are focused on expanding to 100 more cities. Along with the domestic markets we are committed to offer our global products and services to more international markets. We are already present in Singapore and Philippines and aim to launch in ten countries by the end of next year.

Apart from the geographical expansion we are on, we also continuously developing and enhancing our products and working towards launching many new segments. With the recent announcement of Practos entry in the diagnostic space, users can search on Practo and check the quality of the lab by reading through the accreditation information, see real high quality photographs and filter results by proximity, home pickup facility as well as price. Also, early this year we announced our acquisition of FitHo, a leading digital fitness solution and recently acquired Genii technology services firm focused on product design and development. Practo wants to be the single health app for people across curative, preventive, fitness and wellness segments.

Roadmap ahead
The coming few months are going to be eventful with a number of key developments in the pipeline. As a company, we are growing at a lightning speed.

While we already list 200,000 healthcare practitioners, 5,000 diagnostic centers, over the next few months we will expand product lines and continue to look for potential acquisition of companies to encompass key healthcare segments and provide a seamless experience across preventive, curative, medication, wellness and fitness, globally.

We will continue to add top- notch talent to its world- class team of 1500 Practeons to continue to build the best products that will transform healthcare for consumers around the world.

Early this year Practo closed a US$30 million Series B round to expand its services in India and other emerging markets. And recently we received our third round of funding of US$90 million from Tencent, Sofina, Sequoia India, Google Capital, Altimeter Capital, Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital Global Equities and Yuri Milner. Over the next year, Practos footprint will expand from the current 35 Indian cities and three countries to over 100 Indian cities and 10 countries across South East Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Copyright © 2009 - 2022 Franchise India Holdings Ltd.