DoctorOnCall aims to grow to the next level
By Goh Thean Eu April 10, 2017
- Believes there's still plenty of room for growth in the healthcare startup ecosystem
- Having more players in the industry will help address the educational gap
DoctorOnCall, a startup focusing on addressing the needs in the healthcare sector, is currently in talks with a few healthcare service providers as it aims to fuel the startup's growth to the next level.
"In 2017, we are negotiating with a few premier chain of clinics and medical centres as we are planning to improve their patients' experience by leveraging on tele-consults.
"We also hope to see more healthcare providers joining our network of partners to provide the the breadth of service and reach to patients," said cofounder Maran Virumandi in an email interview recently.
In the longer-term, the company is also looking at various partnerships with value-adding organisations in order to grow its network of doctors, said Maran, without wanting to go into further details on his strategies.
Plenty of room for growth still
Over the past two years, there are growing number of startups - including GetDoc and BookDoc - focusing on addressing the pain points in the healthcare sector.
While having competition may be bad news for some entrepreneurs, Maran and his team at DoctorOnCall believe that such trend is benefiting the industry and the players, rather than hurting them.
"Currently, we have approximately 100,000 visitors on a monthly basis due to significant digital advertising and promotion. However, if you take into account of the conversion to actual interactions in the form of medical consults, it is only a tiny faction of the millions of medical consults performed in the physical health industry.
"So, I am optimistic that having more players will help address the educational gap that both patients and corporates face while there's plenty of opportunities for all," said Maran.
How it began
The startup is founded by Maran and his ex-colleague Hazwan Najib. A few years ago, while they were both driving strategy and digital initiatives as management consultants, they saw the need and opportunity to harness digital technology in the medical field.
Both of them started to talk to various healthcare industry stakeholders and set up DoctorOnCall after taking into account stakeholders' feedback. They started their entrepreneurship journey in late 2015 (market research, design and development work) and officially launched their solution and service in May last year.
"DoctorOnCall was born out of necessity after years of interation with doctors and patients who were frustrated with problems with the medical industry. For doctors, the general practice (GP) industry is saturated in major cities, not leaving the new clinics and doctors with much room for growth and profitability.
"In fact, many of them were suffering from low profits and being forced to shut down due to lack of patients and cashflow problems," Maran said.
"Here, we saw the opportunity to provide these doctors with potential to expand beyond the geographical boundaries of their clinic to service patients through video or voice call and maximising their time."
Besides providing doctors with the opportunity to grow and sustain their clinic, DoctorOnCall is also hoping to help improve patients' lives.
"For patients, many lack access to health care providers due to time and geographic constraints for common ailments like flu, fever and cough, diarrhea, red eye, and others. Many patients take up to 1 hour to drive through traffic and spend time at waiting rooms packed with sick people for a simple consult and medication.
"Harnessing telemedicine allows a patient to see a doctor in less than 7 minutes (average turnaround) and the choice to pick up medication or delivery to their homes," explained Maran.
The bootstrap startup currently has a team of seven people, excluding the network of doctors, clinics and pharmacies it has.
How it works and competes
For DoctorOnCall, a user/ potential customer/ patient's journey began when they request for a consultation service via the website - whereby they will be able to communicate with a doctor on their health-related issues. The startup will take a small cut from the consultation fees.
So far, there are about 10 GPs catering to the various language and gender needs. "We have a 'by invitation' network of doctors as we want to maintain the quality of service and commitment to provide proper care through telemedicine."
Unlike some other healthcare-related startups, DoctorOnCall has additional revenue streams - as it also allow patients/customers to buy medicine online. These medicines are expected to be delivered within the same day (in Klang Valley). Based on a rough calculation, there are at least 200 products available on the portal. It offers a full range of services and medication catering to GPs covering 80% of common conditions such as fever, cough and cold, migration, rashes and other medication.
For some medicine and antibiotics, having same-day delivery may not be good enough, as changes in temperature could affect the quality of the medicine. To solve that, Maran's near-term plan is to minimise as much exposure as possible.
"We aim to deliver within 2-4 hours across Klang Valley hence the exposure is rather short. Furthermore, we don’t work with cold-chain items. Nevertheless, we take every precaution to ensure that we deliver the medication with highest product integrity," he said.
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