Making Indian Healthcare Advanced and Integrated : In Conversation with the Team of SmarterClinics.
Clinics are a patient’s first point of care for multiple reasons- they are accessible, cost-effective and doctors there try to pay more attention to our problems. Obviously, because that’s ‘their’ practice & they don’t want to ruin it. Still, clinics are always overcrowded, appointment management is unorganized and doctors always seem to be in a hurry (also, sometimes rude).
Doctors are already overburdened with work. They are seldom able to consult their patients on time. As a result, patients have to unnecessarily wait for hours in the clinic. Illegible hand written prescription is a source of worry for many. Medical prescriptions, lab results & health records stuffed in multiple folders are still supposed to be carried on every visit , making outstation and international travels a nightmare. SmarterClinics has brought an answers to these very critical issues for patients and doctors.
Most doctors are yet to cope up with the technological advancements in present time and are yet to fully understand the miracles technology adoption can do to their practice. With the help of technology, Sanjeev Jha and Ankit Gomkale — founders , SmarterClinics, aim to bring a feasible change in the basic mechanism , for an improved experience and better healthcare for patients as well as increased revenues for the providers.
Using principles of design thinking and business model innovation, their start-up has developed products and services that are meant to transform our neighbourhood clinic into a ‘Smarter-Clinic’.
Tell us briefly about your startup?
At SmarterClinics, we use technology and services to enable your neighbourhood trusted doctors to be more efficient , and provide better experience to the patients. Think of us as “UBER” or “OYO” for clinics where you can get high quality , yet inexpensive care on each visit.
For patients, SmarterClinics is the remover of all their anxieties relating to doctor visits, quality of care and ultimately ensuring better healthcare experience. While to doctors , it provides a distinguished branding, marketing platform and most of all, a long lasting-trusted relationship with patients, that is powered by SmarterClinics’ Preventive Care Platform and CRM capabilities. As a result, doctors are able to build trust in the minds of the patients and generate increased referrals and increased revenue from their practice.
At every SmarterClinics’ clinic, a patient can book an appointment and pay online, track the status of the appointment real-time, get legible digitized prescriptions and remain connected with their doctors post consultation too. We facilitate the doctors to provide best in-clinic experience to their patients. Each and every clinic of ours follows a zero mosquito policy, high quality hygiene standards, provides access to wheelchairs, clean drinking water, pleasant air conditioning, comfortable seating, proper lighting, good books/magazines to read and much more .
What is your strategy for achieving this ?
We will be rolling out our first phase of SmarterClinics business model by the first week of July 2016. We aim to have 100 SmarterClinics as our customers by the end of August 2016. Initially, we are focusing on a few Therapeutic Areas (TA). We will expand our business model to other TA’s later, as our products mature.
Key features of your product ?
SmarterClinics is an integrated B2B2C business model. It includes two key products (i.e. cloud-based Electronic Medical Records software for the doctors/receptionists and an ‘application’ for the patients/users) and some in-clinic patient experience services.
Our EMR product is a highly specialized software for Orthopedic, Obs/GYN, Dentist & Specialist General Physician. We have built our EMR product in consultation with some of India’s most renowned medical practitioners, with whom we have spent significant amount of time — learning about their behavioral challenges in switching from pen & paper to a digitized system, we studied their interactions with patients & understood their challenges there, we learnt about post consultation patient behavior & related challenges there.
What inspired you to create this product ?
I, Sanjeev have a deep interest and background in healthcare research and strategy consulting. One of my past projects for a client is now a subject of Harvard Business Review case. Recently, i have also been a consultant for Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. That’s one reason for conceptualization of our healthcare startup.
Secondly, as a team we’ve realized that healthcare in India is still struggling with a lot of challenges. There are macro challenges such as illegible prescriptions, unethical medical practices etc. and then there are some micro challenges such as, diminishing perceived quality of care, lower-adoption of IT systems at clinics, lack of trained staffs to perform non-clinical activities at clinics and nursing homes.
Recently, The Hindu daily published some note-worthy details- India has 1 doctor for about 12,000 population and we are producing only 50,000 doctors every year. It’s evident that we need more doctors to cater to our healthcare needs. As you keep thinking, you will understand how big the problem really is. Of course, we can’t produce more doctors all of a sudden, but we can certainly increase the number of patients that a doctor can consult in a day at his/her clinic , without compromising on the quality of care. IT deployment is the first step towards achieving the larger goal.
How is this product going to bring a change?
It depends on which of our stakeholders we are referring here. For doctors — we enable them to provide an advanced and integrated healthcare experience to their patients. Something as simple as providing a printed prescription to patients, is a big achievement in itself. During follow-up visits, imagine the amount of bandwidth and time they will save, if they have access to their patients’ lab reports and past prescriptions beforehand .
If the patient is on our PHR App, the doctor can monitor the changes in his/her performance on an immediate basis. Our Analytics platform is enabling doctors to see a lot of vital information that they have always wanted to know and weren’t able to find.
Furthermore, every patient visiting any clinic today wishes to have a better experience. It’s just that no one other than the doctors can make this happen. And we are enabling them to do so.
Who are your competitors and what are they doing?
Healthcare in India needs a lot of companies to solve key issues. Many of other companies in India are solving doctor listing problems (Practo), tele-health (Lybrate) etc. But for a very long time, we’ve been lacking a comprehensive platform that can solve some real healthcare issues pertaining to both stakeholders at clinics and the patients. We see the impact real-time. Patients and doctors alike talk to us about how small innovations here and there have made their lives more convenient .
How is your product better than that of the competitors here?
Our model is very unique. Our products are based on the newest technologies. We are using design thinking and business model innovation as tools to increase adoption of our products by our users and also maximize revenues for clinics. And not to forget, our pricing is very competitive.
Personal statement that defines you as an entrepreneur?
Put your head down and work… that’s the ‘startup gladiator act’ .
How has AIM SmartCity Accelerator Program helped you till now?
AIM SmartCity Accelerator program has provided us a platform where our progress is tracked on a weekly basis that’s very important for any startup. Initial weeks wherein we were asked realistic questions helped us to be more focused. The team at AIM is doing a great job by helping us with efforts like social media marketing, connecting us with the potential partners/mentors and much more.
Message for other startup people?
There is always light at the end of the tunnel.