With over 100 million Internet users, India is a lucrative market for e-commerce. The dotcom boom is evident by the size the e-commerce market is expected to gain in the coming years—from Rs. 51,100 crore currently to Rs. 10,20,000 crore in 2020. And with introduction of 4G services in the country, love for the web and the services it can offer will only increase. Going beyond the likes of eBay and Flipkart, we look at some websites that have forayed into niche services and are flourishing
Super-specialist doctors at a click
MediAngels, a global e-hospital, offers expert advice at the click of a mouse, eliminating the need to go to hospitals or bigger cities for consultation.
HOW IT WORKS:-
• Patients register on the site, upload test reports and medical records.
• Information is processed by MBBS doctors initially and then forwarded to specialists concerned, who then offer consultations.
• Patient can also call up the doctor or have a live chat for better communication.
• 350 doctors from 20 countries on panel
• Voice-based services, preventive healthcare next on agenda
When a four-year-old child in Barnala, Punjab, was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, his parents were forced to make innumerable trips to Delhi to consult doctors at AIIMS. As specialized doctors were not available in the small town they lived in. Then they learnt of MediAngels, an e-hospital offering consultation from super specialist doctors. They logged on to seek medical advice for their child's condition and since then have had no need to travel to Delhi to consult doctors. With 350 doctors from 20 countries on its panel, MediAngels.com claims to be the world's first gJobal eHospital offering consultation in 85 specialties and sub-specialties without the need for queuing up at hospitals or travelling to big cities to see specialists. Patients can upload their test reports and medical records to seek an expert opinion and can also have live chats and phone conversations with doctors for a one-to-one communication. Fees range from Rs. 250 to Rs. 750 and $100 for foreign patients for a full consultation.
One follow-up consultation is free after the initial consultation. The brainwave of paediatric urologist Arbinder Singal (36) and plastic surgeon Debraj Shame (39), both based in Mumbai, the website was launched in January 2011. Soon after the launch, the duo realized the need for a facility for lab tests and within a month, they also offered sample collection facilities in tie-up with a couple of lab chains. The idea, says Singal, struck them during a discussion over dinner on where healthcare is headed in future. "We really wanted to do something innovative in our core area of expertise and domain experience," he says. Colleagues and friends for five years when they launched MediAngels. Singal today manages medical operations, human resources and company policies. While Shome handles the business development and strategy.
A year later, the two are satisfied with the way things have turned out. They claim to have offered consultation to about 6,000 patients so far and say customer satisfaction hovers around 95%. About 90% of their patients are from India and 10% from abroad, mainly the US, Middle East and south-east Asia. Of the Indian customers, half of them are from metros and half from tier-II and tier-III towns. They are also close to full completion of their business portfolio with a voice-activated platform and a preventive healthcare plan on the cards. "We started with eight people and today the set-up involves 22 employers, with 20 more key positions likely to be open soon." says Singal. MediAngels started with Rs. 2.4 crore funding from HDEC and another Rs. 2 crore raised from friends and family their turnover after a year is about Rs. 50 lakh, against a projected Rs. 25 Lakh. Looking ahead, MediAngels plans to launch voice-based services to enable more patients to seek consultations. "Given that telecom penetration is much more than Internet presence in the country, this makes good business sense," says Singal. The dial-an-MD service will be open for 16 hours a day with an annual plan offering 40 calls for 31,800. Quarterly plans will also be available, for which the tariffs are yet to be finalized. He adds that with voice services. MediAngels expects volumes to pick up, though consultations will be more for primary healthcare and a different spectrum of diseases than super-specialty areas, which cannot be dealt with merely on the phone. The company has also set up 'sky centres' or Internet kiosks in various small towns to provide web access to the public. They also plan to offer cash vouchers at these points to facilitate payment for consultations for those who do not possess credit cards or Internet banking services. Though the sky centres are very few at present, there are plans to set up more such centres across the country MediAngels is also foraying into preventive healthcare where the basic level consultation will be for free. Detailed advice on disease risks, diet and exercise plans will cost Rs. 1,000 a year. This pack-age will include a blood test where testing for 40 parameters will be done. More-over, customers for this plan can avail 10% off on the specialist consultations. Talks are on with several corporate houses as well for packages. As Singal rattles off the details, using more business jargon than an average business journalist, one wonders if the businessman in him has overtaken the doctor that he was. His reply is telling, "If I keep my sensibilities as a doctor intact. I can become a great businessman in future." We wish him luck!