Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time in 2008 precisely, there was a boy named Shashank ND who was frantically getting together his father’s medical records and scanning them because he wanted to get a second opinion from an American physician, for an operation that his father was about to undertake. If that’s not bad enough, he was also unable to access enough information about the doctor, to make an informed decision before putting his father’s life in the doctor’s hands. I mean imagine the kind of emotional trauma the boy must have been through just to get a second opinion. This incident urged Shashank and his classmate, Abhinav Lal, to set up Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

It was all about developing an idea into the software which can transform the healthcare industry.

Here comes Practo

Practo is India’s largest digital healthcare company that brings millions of patients and providers together on one platform. Practo’s vision is to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable for a billion Indians, and its services are aimed at making people more proactive about their health. Over 18 crore patients, or approx. 1 in 7 Indians has received high-quality care through the Practo platform in 2019 alone. Working with a team of 1 lakh + doctors, Practo is committed to increasing access to quality healthcare in the country.

Practo has devised numerous solutions for doctors and patients to make their lives easier. Following are just a few of their many offerings:

  1. An online doctor appointment booking platform
  2. Online consultation through text, call or video chat
  3. Diagnostic tests with home sample collections facility
  4. A slew of software for clinics, hospitals, and multi-chain clinic

How it all started:

They say every big step begins with a small idea. But, how it all started? Practo was discovered with an idea to improve consumer healthcare experience with the help of experts and doctors.

Traditionally doctors are not considered to be tech-savvy and it is felt that they have tremendous resistance towards adopting the technology. It was, in fact, the exact opposite. the reason doctors haven’t taken to software is that up the software wasn’t designed specifically for them.

So they decided to change this and launched Practo Ray – a cloud-based clinic management software. It's based so doctors didn’t have to worry about software updates, hardware requirements, data security, and data backups. This allows them to focus on what is important – their patients.

Practo offers an online doctor consultation service where patients can talk to specialists across many specialties.

It’s the next best thing to visiting a doctor physically.

Less than 2-min response time | In-chat report sharing | 100% secure

In 2013, it launched Practo.com – a doctor discovery platform that allows consumers to find the right doctors and book instant appointments. Guided by ‘Patient First’ philosophy, we’ve taken the unique route of listing all doctors for free (post verification of-course), it doesn’t charge patients to book appointments or for doctors to receive these appointments. The entire process is completely free – because this ensures that patients have the widest possible choice.

Practo works around these simple software strategies:

Simplicity — the design must be simple, both in implementation and interface. It is more important for the implementation to be simple than the interface. Simplicity is the most important consideration in a design.

Correctness — the design must be correct in all observable aspects. It is slightly better to be simple than correct.

Consistency — the design must not be overly inconsistent. Consistency can be sacrificed for simplicity in some cases, but it is better to drop those parts of the design that deal with less common circumstances than to introduce either implementation complexity or inconsistency.

Completeness — the design must cover as many important situations as is practical. All reasonably expected cases should be covered. Completeness can be sacrificed in favor of any other quality.

Data Security— In Today’s scenario, data privacy is what becomes mandatory to sustain in the market. Developers need to take an added layer of security to safeguard the vital health information of the patients. Use cloud development to ensure data safety.

But how do they earn money from them?

Practo/Zocdoc is a patient-centric model. Therefore, booking an appointment using this online doctor-patient portal is free.

If we talk about Practo, then it works in two different approaches to generate revenue. Practo Ray and Practo Reach:

Practo Ray -It makes money via subscriptions. Practitioners and Doctors have to pay a certain amount per month for the standard/ premium subscription.

Practo Reach — It is free for patients. This approach works on advertisements from doctors and hospitals. Though the prices for ads depend on the specialty of the doctor and the area.

A Practo-like app works in three stages.

User, Doctor and the Admin

The first step is an online consultation that requires patients to elaborate on their health concerns. The automation system predicts the problem area and related specialty. Later they proceed to pay the marginal consultation fee, after which the app searches the database for the doctors who meet certain minimum criteria.

e.g. instant online availability, feedback received from previous consultations, general response time, experience in the field, etc.

a notification has been sent to these doctors on the Provider app about the potential consultation. These notifications are sent to different but relevant groups of doctors until one accepts the request. In approximately 97–98% of the cases, one of the doctors in the group accept the notification.

Thousands of people use this feature to find solutions to nagging health problems.

Considering the primitive digital landscape India had in 2008, one wouldn’t be surprised if this idea was scoffed at then. But these men saw the potential that was to come in the country.

How they were able to generate such huge funding:

The founders of Practo believed in one idea that Always makes investors believe that you are interested in updated on your progress, without wasting too much time. It is important to raise money when you are being offered than to go out and seek it from everyone. In the end – build a great product, have a long term vision and investors will follow. isn’t that great?

Funding day has always been an issue for a giant Practo. But as networking grew and traction grew, funding started pouring in.

The company in so far has had five funding rounds. The details are as follows:

  1. The Series A round was run on July 30th, 2012 and roped in USD 4 million with Sequoia Capital
  2. Series B 2015 brought in USD 30 million through two investors but again led by Sequoia Capital.
  3. Series C in 2015 was their biggest round of funding run which brought in USD 90 million led by Tencent Holdings
  4. In October of 2016, they ran a venture funding round. This roped in USD 55 million over here.
  5. Lastly, they have run their Series D round on Jan 16, 2017. This round got the company 9 investors on board with an amount of USD 55 million

Soon, Practo grew.

In total Practo as getting USD 234 million in funding over the past 5 rounds in 5 years. The investors currently include the likes of Tencent, Thrive Capital, Runnet, Matrix Partners, Recruit, Sequoia Capital, Yuri Milner, Altimeter, Sofina and CapitalG

What makes Practo so different from its competitors

I think they were the first ones to predict the hospitality market. An era which considers smart card just the poor people thing, they dived into the smart card and made it so popular. Practo joined the league of tech companies offering credit cards with a partnership with RBL Bank. The health-centric credit card – RBL Bank Practo Plus — is powered by Mastercard.

The companies said that the card is designed to cater to customers in both metros and non-metro cities. Some of the benefits include unlimited online consultations with doctors 24×7,  One free full-body health check-up and for every INR 100 spent on this card, cardholder earns one unit of Practo HealthCash

On-demand, doctor appointment apps are the need of the hour as it empowers users to get immediate attention to their health issues. No doubt, there are established players already excelling in the market, a remarkable and feature-rich product will undoubtedly find a place.

Practo was ground up by some of the best people in the industry. And, its online consultation service has seen a hockey-stick growth in the last 2 years, and the credit for that goes to the Product, Engineering and Operations team working together day and night to give the best user experience to the anxious consumer (patient).

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