We’re eyeing futuristic tech like machine learning: Shashank, Practo

We plan to acquire or invest in more futuristic technologies like machine learning, genome technology, wellness and fitness, says Shashank ND, the founder and CEO of Practo.

Edited excerpts:

How will Practo cope up with network connectivity when Internet penetration in tier 3 cities is not high? How can telecom operators play a role in aiding remote healthcare?

Today, it is true that mobile broadband has not been fully covered in our country, but we believe that India will get there soon. Today, we have around 30 percent of our traffic coming from tier 2 and 3 towns, so we can say that the Internet has reached some parts of these cities.

From the B2B side, our product Practo Tab runs our entire Practo Ray software in offline mode; hence doctors and other healthcare providers can use it in this mode and then synchronize it back with the cloud once they get connectivity. Our tablet is doing well in tier 2 and tier 3 towns and adoption in these areas is higher than the urban centers.  This is another way to combat lack of Internet in certain pockets.

Talking about telecom operators, I think they have a huge opportunity because mobile broadband and mobile devices may be the only computing and internet access consumers will have. With 3G and 4 G expanding rapidly, the issues with respect to connectivity will improve.

What is Practo’s go-to market strategy?

In terms of our go-to market strategy, we look for markets where we can make the maximum impact on people’s lives. We look mainly at markets with high out-of-pocket healthcare spends, low access to quality healthcare and lack of legacy IT systems so that we can unify the system on the supply side. 

How do you ensure that patients get access to bona fide doctors?

We enable consumers to discover the right healthcare provider and make sure that we are able to provide all the information they need to make this decision.  In order to achieve it, we have our team that hits the road to sign up the doctor and physically verify them and their clinics. Also, our robust verification process includes verifying their degrees and certificates with the local boards and relevant medical authorities.

Only once they pass this verification process do they list on Practo.  At the same time, we have Practo Feedback, where consumers can read feedback from other patients and make up their mind about which doctor to visit. 

What is the unique differentiator between Practo and other healthcare startups? 

Practo has pioneered the disruptive Healthcare Hyperloop model that has transformed the healthcare market by aggregating consumer demand and connecting it with healthcare providers who provide high quality care. 

Our technology and product teams are constantly pushing the envelope of what we can deliver to our consumers. We have the unique advantage of having built a globally respected strong B2B software product (Practo Ray) that is tightly integrated with our consumer offering (Practo Search).

If you consider the user journey for someone who is sick and wants to get well again, it begins with finding a doctor and then finding a lab to get the recommended tests done. Our software products enable healthcare institutions like clinics and hospitals to provide an efficient digital healthcare experience to consumers, whether it is instant appointment booking, wait-time reduction, digital healthcare records, medicine delivery or online consultation.

Also read: We have the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare is perceived: Shashank

With extensive VC funds being pumped in, what will Practo focus more on this year?

This year, the biggest part of the investment will be towards building products that will transform healthcare for consumers around the world.

We plan to add more features and several more categories, including hospitals, diagnostic centers, spas, salons and wellness and fitness centers. We will also continue to expand our team of over 2,300 employees.

We also want to geographically expand from the current list of 50 cities and 15 countries to over 100 Indian cities and more countries across South East Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Eastern Europe.

We even plan to acquire or invest in more futuristic technologies like machine learning, genome technology, wellness and fitness.

Finally, we are looking for good ideas and products and scouting for deals outside India. We have been active on the acquisition front and believe that it is a good way to add world class like-minded talent to our team. It gives us a fast way to scale and accelerate our roadmap.