Healthcare is one of the last industries to be completely transformed by technology. 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 that caters to doctors and patients in the most efficient way, which sets us apart from other players in the market” says Shashank ND, Founder & CEO of Practo, a company he started in 2008.
Practo is in a unique position of having a 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, Practo has the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare is perceived.
When you aim to redefine an industry the challenges are many but that also helps you in getting better. With Practo, the problem was access to the right information – 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 they built Practo Ray. When they started building Practo Ray, the biggest challenge 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. Apart from their scale, efficiency, technology prowess, one of the most important factors they had was their data quality – the fact that they don’t 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 the Platform.
Practo has been successful in playing a role in bringing that shift by building world-class products like Practo Ray (A ‘Software as a Service’ management software that provides doctors with appointment scheduler and electronic medical record services, prescriptions along with billing, IVR telephony and other healthcare management services) and Practo Search (Search engine to get required information from database) and have proved that doctors can manage millions of patients and healthcare records every month digitally. Today, Practo holds over 90% market share amongst all doctors using software to manage their practice.
In 2013, Practo.com was launched – doctor discovery platform which allows consumers to find the right doctors and book instant appointments. Guided by ‘Patient First’ philosophy, Practo has taken the unique route of listing all doctors for free (post verification of-course), they 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.
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% every quarter! This holds testimony to the fact that disruptive innovation can bring a structure and change in the way an industry functions. “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” Shashank explains.
We spoke to Shashank about the life and journey of Practo. Below is the story of Practo !
Shashank’s Journey to Practo
What started with an urge to make informed decision before putting his father’s life in the doctor’s hands, ultimately took the shape of Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd. –One of the fastest growing healthcare companies in the world! In year 2008, Shashank’s father needed to undergo a surgery and Shashank was seeking a second opinion before he could make his final decision. He was already doing a cumbersome job of getting all the record files, scans and reports together and on top of that he had to carry out intense search operation to get all the information needed about doctors for there was no source available to access this information. The incident got Shashank to set up Practo along with his classmate Abhinav Lal who is now the CTO at Practo.
Shashank ND is responsible for the overall vision and direction of Practo while maintaining an active role in building Practo’s game changing products.
He started Practo in 2008 when he discovered that there was a profound need to transform the healthcare industry and centered it around the patient – he calls this approach ‘Patient First’ and this is one of the guiding lights for all decisions at Practo.
He’s put Practo on a mission to help improve human health and longevity and visualizes a patient friendly healthcare ecosystem enabled by Practo where patients and doctors are seamlessly connected with a secure and easy flow of health information. He wants Practo to be “Your health app”. The only app you need for any healthcare related activity.
Over the past several years, he has built Practo into a company that touches millions of lives in multiple cities and countries every month, by helping them make better healthcare decisions.
Shashank has a B.Tech from the prestigious NIT, Surathkal and is a founder circle member of iSPIRT, a think tank for the Indian software industry. Shashank has recently been featured in the ‘30 under 30’ list of young influential people to watch by Forbes in 2015.
The Successful Growth to Become Leading Healthcare Platform
Practo is already Asia’s leading healthcare platform with presence in India, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia. 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% every quarter!
Earlier this year, Practo announced its plan to expand into 35 cities in India – they have already achieved that! They are the largest healthcare platform in Asia with over 200,000 doctors, 5,000 diagnostic centers, 10, 000 hospitals and of course, millions of consumers use Practo every month to find and book appointments with the right healthcare practitioner. By being present in Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia gives them a competitive edge over others and they will continue to grow organically as well as inorganically.
The founders believe that with the emergence of technology, the healthcare industry in India will now have a better chance at simplifying the process of locating and consulting with the right doctor. By identifying this gap, they have been successful in helping consumers to reach out to the right doctor on the basis of locality, specialty, availability, customer feedback and costs.
The Penetration in Healthcare Sector
After expanding to Tier 2 cities, Practo team observed that almost 20-25% of traffic comes from these centers. The rising adoption and reach of technology in India is blurring the lines between Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. By getting such a positive response from these parts of the country proves to show that people need and want access to quality healthcare services.
“We’re on a mission to help mankind live healthier, longer lives. Every person in the world should have access to better healthcare. We’re already Asia’s leading healthcare platform with presence in India, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia” says Shashank . By end of this year, Practo plans to expand to 100 cities and 10 countries across South East Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Practo’s expansion will continue – both within India and internationally as will the aggressive drive to get the best talent on the planet. Read about expansion of Practo to Indonesia.
The Point of Contra flexure
Practo founders and team, right from the start, has been deeply passionate about solving the healthcare challenge to help people live healthier, longer lives. They believe that when you are passionate about solving the problem, these make or break moments really don’t come into play as much. Having said that, of course, when you’re trying to disrupt an industry, you will always have challenges. Practo has a strong culture of ‘do-great’ which means that Practeons want to do truly great work not for want of reward or recognition but because they expect it of themselves and because they genuinely care about the problem. This passion to make a difference is what drives them to overcome whatever challenges that come in front of them.
“We were pretty convinced that this was a meaningful problem for humanity and that we were going to solve it. We started with Practo Ray – our cloud based practice management software that helps doctors and clinics manage digitize and make their practice more efficient. We found great acceptance and interest from doctors”.
Further, with more and more requests rolling in Team 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.
By digitally connecting patients and doctors, Practo has been able to simplify the access to quality healthcare. Within a few clicks patients can book an appointment with a doctor without waiting in long queues. They can also do diagnostic search by the test name instead of lab name to see the list of labs near them that offer that test. They can 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. All this can be done in a matter of seconds.
Practo is 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 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. Practo is your health app. The aim is to become the only app you need for any healthcare related activity.
Shashank’s Advice to Entrepreneurs
Over the last 7 years that I have been building Practo, there are a few things I’ve learned.
First, always optimize for the vision. Articulate the vision continuously and ensure each step you take is towards this. Vision helps align the entire team behind a common purpose.
Second, usage is king. Focus more on the usage of the product than how much the users are paying for it. Usage is the single most important metric to determine product value. Pay close attention to what your customers tell you. Product insights will come through interpretation of customer feedback
Third, solve hard problems. At the start, try picking the tough problems to solve. These are usually the ones no one else would have tried solving. Ask yourself, ‘Why hasn’t anyone done this before?’ Logically, due to technology advancements, problems that were harder to solve so far, would become easier now.
Fourth, hire players only. That should be one of your top priorities. Only get the best of the best. They can give you exponential growth. Ensure they buy into the vision of the company and focus equally hard on retaining them. One of the keys to retention is to build a great culture from day one. It will remain through the life of the company.
Fifth, think global. One of the best things we did was launch in Singapore. The market there really stress tested our product and helped us improve by leaps and bounds which was instrumental in us getting such a high market share so quickly.
Sixth, get advisors & consultants. There are many industry experts out there. Take advantage of their expertise, its faster. Don’t try to do everything on your own.
Seventh, growth is the only oxygen for a startup. Continuously focus on the growth %. Take risks and do everything possible to grow fast.
Eight, build great products. Never ever ship a sub-par product. Customers have an innate sense to detect carelessness. They will penalize you by moving away.
Ninth, choose the right investors. Don’t optimize for valuations, optimize for building a great product or service that people love. Investors will see value in that. Optimize more for who is investing in you than how much. Investors can be great partners in helping you grow so they must share your medium and long term vision and their goals should be aligned to that.
Tenth, focus. You have limited resources and time. Don’t spend too much time attending conferences, networking events etc. Focus all energy on ensuring there is progress. In our earlier days, we used the mantra of ‘Code & Sell’, everything else is useless.
And finally, have fun. You will spend long hours doing this so make sure you love doing it and are excited by it. There is no room for half-heartedness.
Vision for Practo
Over the next 2-5 years, Practo will continue to transform the industry globally and deliver on Practo’s promise of being Your Health App. As a company, they are growing at a lightning speed. While they already list 200,000 healthcare practitioners, 5,000 diagnostic centers, over the next few months they will add more features, products and several more categories including hospitals, diagnostic centers as well as spas, salons, wellness and fitness centers as well. Practo will also 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.
In the next year, the footprint will expand from the current 35 Indian cities and four countries to over 100 Indian cities and 10 countries across South East Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Eastern Europe.
“Practo is on a mission is to help mankind live healthier, longer lives. We believe this is possible if we improve the healthcare experience for consumers by simplifying it and centering the whole ecosystem around them” Shashank concludes.
Practo has been able to raise several rounds of funding from various angel investors. Click on links to know about fundings:
Web Url: https://www.practo.com/
Read about Practo acquires Insta Health for $12M
Read about Indian Healthcare Startups To Watch !