Shashank ND, Practo

Practo is the world’s largest healthcare appointment booking platform: Shashank ND, Founder, Practo

Practo has been at the fore front of digital healthcare in India and in a very short span of time it has redefined the way healthcare services can be delivered using the backbone of technology. In an extensive interview with Srikanth RP, Shashank ND, Founder, Practo, tells us how Practo has grown to be the world’s largest healthcare appointment platform connecting millions of patients to more than 200,000 healthcare practitioners, 10,000 hospitals and over 5000 diagnostic centers across 50+ cities and 15 countries across the world. 

Some edited excerpts:

What was the origin behind starting Practo?

We started Practo when we discovered that there was a profound need to transform the healthcare industry and center it around the patient – we call this approach ‘Patient First’ and this is one of the guiding lights for all decisions at Practo. We also recognized that in order to improve consumer’s healthcare experience, we had to begin with the doctors.

Traditionally, doctors are not considered to be tech-savvy and it is felt that they have tremendous resistance towards adopting technology. We realized that it was infact the exact opposite. We understand that the reason doctors haven’t really taken to software is because up until we came along, software wasn’t really designed specifically for them.

In 2009 I asked my doctor to email me a copy of my medical report, the doctor said he couldn’t do it because his software didn’t have an email button. Email was not new in 2009, it was widespread and yet no one had thought of putting an email button in his software. I was shocked.

We decided to change this and build a product that was designed from the ground up for doctors and in 2009, we launched Practo Ray – a cloud based clinic management software. We kept it cloud based so doctors didn’t have to worry software updates, hardware requirements, data security and data backups. This allowed them to focus on what is important – their patients. Today it is used by doctors to manage millions of patients and healthcare records every month and we hold over 90% market share amongst all doctors who use software to manage their practice.

In 2013, we launched Practo.com – our doctor discovery platform which allows consumers to find the right doctors and book instant appointments. Guided by our ‘Patient First’ philosophy, we’ve taken the unique route of listing all doctors for free (post verification of-course), we also don’t charge patients to book appointments or for doctors to receive these appointments. The entire process is completely free – because this ensures that patients have the widest possible choice.

Today Practo is the world’s largest healthcare appointment booking platform with nearly 40 million appointments managed every year.

Can you give us some details on year on year growth, and explain how Practo has grown in terms of doctors and subscribers?

We started out by enrolling doctors first. In 2009, we launched Practo Ray, the first SaaS product in India – a cloud based clinic management software. We kept it cloud based so that doctors didn’t 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. We found great acceptance and interest from doctors.

Further, with more and more requests rolling in we actually found that doctors were passionately interested in the product and over the last several years, Practo Ray has evolved basis direct feedback from them and is therefore keenly tuned into their workflows and specific needs. Today Practo Ray has over 90% market-share in India and doctors use Practo Ray to manage healthcare for millions of patients every month.

We then moved on and created the world’s first ever hyper-loop between doctors and patients and in 2013, we launched Practo.com – our doctor discovery platform which allows consumers find the right doctors and book instant appointments. We now manage over 40 million appointments every year. In the past few years, we have also expanded our global footprint and are now present in over 15 countries across the globe.

Our vision is to help mankind live healthier, longer lives across the globe. Today, we are the world’s largest appointment booking platform and we connect millions of patients to over 200,000 healthcare practitioners, 10,000 hospitals and over 5000 diagnostic centers across 50+ cities and 15 countries across the world.

What is the business model for Practo? What are the key sources of revenue for Practo, and how have these grown?

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 patient’s digital records and also allows the doctors to send e-prescriptions to the patient. Practo Ray is offered at two price points, Rs. 999 and Rs. 1999 per month.
Today we are the leaders in the digital healthcare segment and have 90% market share with regards to our SaaS based product Practo Ray, the first of a kind to be launched in India, which has been designed from the ground up with specific focus on the workflow for doctors. And as more doctors digitize 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.

The other source of revenue is Practo Reach – which 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.

We are growing at a sensational pace. We have so far acquired 4 companies – Fitho, Genii, Insta Health and Qikwell have now become the world’s largest appointment booking platform with nearly 40 million appointments managed every year. Within this year we have increased our footprint to a wider part of the country and abroad, we have also launched new features in our product line. These are steps towards Practo becoming the only health app you need.

How do you see the potential for digitization of healthcare in India? Can you give us some statistics that highlight this potential?

India’s 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. Healthcare is a $6 trillion industry and this gives us a lot of opportunity to do ground breaking innovation that can help simplify healthcare delivery across the world.

Today, digitization and technological advancements are re-shaping healthcare delivery and the way the segment is perceived by healthcare practitioners. Being the pioneers in the segment we have been successful in implementing a technology model by having a strong globally respected strong B2B software product (Practo Ray) that is tightly integrated with its much loved consumer offering (Practo Search) – creating the world’s first and only healthcare hyper loop that is connecting the entire healthcare ecosystem and is helping millions of consumers make better healthcare decisions. By constantly pushing the envelope to innovate and create products and services that are world class we think we have the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare is perceived.

We at Practo envision a world where technology will help consumers find the best doctors with a few clicks. Generating, accessing and storing health records would be entirely digital. Patients will have a single health account linked to their families that stores their health information securely provides helpful information (prescription reminders for example) in a timely manner (prescription reminders to take medicines for example) to help people live healthier, longer lives. We’re already Asia’s leading healthcare platform and the world’s largest appointment booking platform with presence in 50+ cities and 15 countries. We plan to enter 100 more cities in India and 10 more countries across South East Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

How do you see the possibility of using wearables in healthcare? Is Practo looking at leveraging wearables in healthcare for its growth?

Wearable technology and its utility in the healthcare industry is immense. Today we are seeing a rise in the adoption of this technology among consumers, but there is still scope for usability to increase as these devices are heavily dependent on connectivity and smartphone apps. Due to the acknowledged lack of clinical data, wearables are still viewed as a trendy consumer device rather than an indispensable clinical tool.

At Practo, we aim to be Your Health App – the only app you require for all your healthcare needs. Our goal right now is to focus on connecting the patient to the right hospital, clinic, and diagnostic centre and ensure that consumers follow preventive measures. We will continue to add more features, products and several more categories including spas, salons, wellness and fitness centers. As of now wearables are not something that we are focusing on.

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