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Jul 06, 2013, 04.11 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Book your doctor's appointment online with Practo

From booking a doctor's appointment online to help medical practitioners maintain their patients' record; Practo, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider has been a hit. The company broke even in year from its establishment and targets USD 10 million revenue mark by 2016.

Investments in the healthcare sector saw a huge jump in 2012. According to data from Thomson Reuters, Indian healthcare industry raised USD 320 million in a span of one year.

Investors like Goldman Sachs, Warburg Pincus, Sequoia and others pumped in almost USD 520 million against USD 137 million in 2011.

Practo, a venture by Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal; graduates from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Surathkal, received funding to the tune of USD 4 million last year.

Founded in May 2008, Practo's unique selling proposition (USP) is a suite of software-as-a-service (SaaS) products that assist doctors in managing their practice and medical records on one hand and help patients locate doctors closest to them on the other.

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Already over 40,000 doctors use their products. It sees over 1000 appointment bookings too. Practo Search is available online and on the phone. It lets one search for doctors based on medical specialty, locality and even symptoms. Simultaneously, one can book appointments too. 

A real life pain triggered the idea for venture.

In 2008, Shashank was trying to get a second opinion from an American physician for an operation that his father was about to undertake. However, he was struggling to get physical records and eligible prescriptions to USA. That is when he realised that despite the pervasiveness of technology this was one area that had remained untouched. This thought morphed into the venture.

Shashank ND, co-founder and CEO, Practo Technologies says, “Practo has two parts to it. We ensure that the patient finds a doctor and meeting a doctor is made easier and simpler. That is how Practo Search helps the patient connect with 50,000 doctors across India.”

“In order to make the patient experience smooth across, we have to ensure that the experience of the clinic is also very good. That is how we provide the doctors with software which can help doctors manage the patient experience better at his centre”, he adds.

Practo does this with the help of three breakthrough SaaS products. The venture’s flagship product Practo Ray is a practice management one which helps doctors register new patients; book and update appointment calendars and even maintain electronic medical records. It is priced at Rs 1000 per month. The service has vowed 40,000 doctors across eight cities and helped manage three million patient records till date. Practo Hello, India's first cloud based call management system for doctors is also a part of the package.

With a 1,25,000 calls made so far, this software allows patients to book appointments 24/7. These appointments are automatically updated at the clinic.

The third product is Practo Groups. It is a dedicated online platform for health professionals and communities to come together on an online forum. However, while Practo has won over doctors now; roping in the first client was not easy.

“The concept was very new when we started. Doctors were very apprehensive about buying a software which is online. At the same time there was a lack of internet (penetration) and access, lack of computerisation at the doctor’s front in India. We faced a lot of difficulties getting the concept accepted”, says Shashank. 

However, as patients and doctors warmed up to the service; so did investors. The company turned profitable just a year into operations. They received USD 4 million in funds in a series led by Sequoia Capital.

Practo is headquartered in Bangalore and has presence in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Kochi and even Singapore. The crew of 125 is now looking to rope in 3 lakh doctors by 2014 and hit the USD 10 million revenue mark by 2016.

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