We facilitate villagers with affordable medical consultation: Doctor Insta CEO

We facilitate villagers with affordable medical consultation: Doctor Insta CEO

High-end healthcare infrastructure is yet to reach many villages across India. But telemedicine startup Doctor Insta is on a move to facilitate villages with essential medical services at an as low charge as Rs. 100. CEO and co-founder Amit Munjal in an exclusive conversation with TechOne3 revealed that his startup is working on a program called Doctor Insta Inclusion to provide villagers with medical consultation.

Doctor Insta

Doctor Insta Inclusion helps villagers with affordable medical consultation

Edited excerpts from the interview.

How did you get the idea to launch Doctor Insta as a digital medical service?

It was about three years back. I was vacationing in Hawaii, and there I was looking at the sunset while sitting on a hilltop. Unfortunately, I slipped and fell into the ocean. Now the beaches there were very sandy, and when a tried to get-up. I felt excruciating pain in my right foot. A friend, who was there, suggested that I should use for application on smartphone whereby I can have a video consultation with a doctor because that was quick and more efficient and we didn’t have to look for a hospital or emergency care on a remote island. So, he opened the application on his smartphone, and I was able to do a consultation with a doctor there itself. The doctor made me move my foot in multiple directions and took a look on my foot, too. Post that he told me it wasn’t a fracture for sure and suggested to put some pain relieving spray and take ibuprofen, a generic version on Brofin. I did the same, and I was ready to go.

At that juncture, I was working at Bank of America (Merill Lynch), and I realised then it is such good concept to take to India because 70 percent of consultations for which we go to out-station department could very well come through telemedicine or video-medicine.

Around three years back India didn’t have so many smartphones as today and data bandwidth was a challenge, too. So I had to put the idea on the back burner. But it stayed with me. In the meanwhile, took a role with Citibank (USA) as CFO and little over a year back clearly India was on the major path of explosive growth of smartphones and bandwidth constraints were becoming less/fewer. So after one year back we decided to launch this product in the India market and that’s when I moved to India.

Doctor Insta

Doctor Insta

What is the selection process of doctors for Doctor Insta?

The selection process of doctors is very rigorous and very stiff. The way it works is, from the time the resume comes to us. First of all, we see that the doctor has minimum criteria that we have specified in terms of educational and professional qualification. Thus, the doctors have to have an MD or specialisation degree and post-degree. The doctors also must possess at least five years of experience. Additionally, we look at the quality of work experience since we are in the business of customer satisfaction. It is crucial for us to make sure that the doctors have not just the technical skills but also have the PUFF skills. This means that they should be very patient in listening to what the customer/patient is telling them and then they should be able to address in a professional and pleasant manner.

Today, before we put a doctor on the platform provided he or she has educational and professional qualifications in place, we do the interview process by our own physicians and after interviewing potential doctors and once they are approved we put them through the training operation. After that, they are given the training on telemedicine and media medicine and founded on successful completion of training we put them on the platform to practice medicine using Doctor Insta.

Immediately when they practice at doctor Insta for two weeks, the quality control and quality assurance steps are in place, this means we send them dummy patients (who are doctors themselves) so that they can perform a random audit on how a particular doctor has greeted or treated them. So post auditor results, if any doctor does not meet the criteria we have laid out, then we de-commission those doctors.

Today, when our administrative department learns about the high rating for a doctor, we then increase the incentive of that medical practitioner.

Do you think slower bandwidth in India abandons some patients to use your service?

In some areas it does happen, but let me clarify that our technology is very much advanced to be pointing that it works very beautifully on 3G. Nowadays, if you have picked a disease/injury/illness by default or otherwise, you are counseled to be indoors. You will not be playing cricket or basketball especially when you are sick, and you would probably be in an enclosed space setup such as office or home since the internet connectivity there is high anyways.

Now, even in Delhi, there are pockets where internet connectivity is provided and we have introduced phone connectivity for the Indian market, so using your service provider of the phone you can choose to opt out and chat with the doctors. If the video is not of high quality because of bandwidth constraints, you can have full consultations with the doctors. Hence along with the video we have also combined the platform with chat capabilities.

What makes Doctor Insta a distinct player in the healthcare sector?

First of all it’s a vast space in an Indian market, and no established market leader is trying to solve this problem. It’s a relatively new concept for the Indian market. So what make us stand out is the novelty of approach because we are not a marketplace. We are a curative place.

The second differentiating factor is about the strength of the management team. If you look at it, many of us have come from different parts of the world and have converted India to solve this problem. We have people from the CXO level at various Fortune 500 companies of the world, who have come together to take doctor Insta to the next level. You would not experience this depth of management experience and expertise in other startups which are trying to solve similar problems.

We also have Dr. Prashant Jain. He is also one of the core team members. He was in top management of Accenture (US) where he was providing management consulting to hospitals, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical businesses in the US market and then he resigned from his role and moved back to India after 17 years to promote Doctor Insta. Hence, our engineering, strength of management team and the uniqueness in execution are our core differentiating elements.

Doctor Insta already has its presence on Android, iOS and the Web. When can we see its native app on Windows 10?

We are not betting on Windows. We are not that optimistic about the Windows because Windows Phone is losing market share. So until the time we know what will happen to Windows operating system there is no reason for us to deploy our resources on Windows. People who have Windows Phone and who think that they need a consultation to Doctor Insta can still be done using our website. Any computer in the world can open the website — doctorinsta.com — and do the consultation. As a startup, we have to deploy our limited times and resources and vitality where it matters the most. That’s why we don’t have a native BlackBerry app or Windows app or for smaller segments operating systems app.

Doctor Insta apps

Doctor Insta apps

Video chat is still inaccessible in many villages across India. In what ways, can a service like Doctor Insta help villagers connecting with doctors?

First of all Doctor Insta as a platform is meant for cities because our consultation is around Rs. 400 for B2C and Rs. 300 for B2B. So if you are a CEO of American Express, and you want to opt for Doctor Insta for your employees, you can get a consultation of Rs. 300 per hour. However, in villages Rs. 300 as the price point is very high.

Therefore, Doctor Insta is targeted towards tier-1 and tier-2 cities — primarily where people have limited time and they are busy with their lives. They have too many things to work on and a commute time is longer, parking is a challenge. Also, people in bigger cities, travel a lot. If one will be in Delhi today, the same person maybe in Mumbai tomorrow.

For villagers, we have another program, called Doctor Insta Inclusion. In this, the Government of India is setting up an e-kiosks in different parts and villages of the country. We are attempting to tie up with these e-kiosks so that one can get a medical consultation at Rs. 100 or so. In this case, just to clarify, the doctor on the other end will not be super specialist or specialist. Those doctors will be MBBS at least 5 years of experience because if you go to a specialist or super specialist you would have to pay more like Rs. 100 or something more than Rs. 100.

How close you are to the aim of hitting Rs. 10 crore figure in 2016?

I think we are on track. We recently tied up large company like Tech Mahindra, Mahindra and Mahindra, American Express and V-mart, which is a thousand plus stores in countries. We also got Punj Lloyd. So as these large companies join forces with us, we will be able to achieve our targets set for 2016.

Doctor Insta raised $500,000 in a Series A funding round. What’s next?

Yeah, we do have plans to raise capital at a right price point sometime later because what we feel is that we can dilute only so much. When one raises capital, one has to give away part of the company. Thus, we are confident in the way we are getting traction. We feel that if we do the fund-raising later, it will be more beneficial for the company.

Categories: Interview