Practo expands services, offers medicine delivery, consultation

People tend to use doctor discovery apps only when they fall ill. Naturally. But that’s a problem for health start-ups, which would like customers to use their apps more frequently than just once or twice a year.

Sure, healthcare apps may never be used as frequently as taxi-hailing apps, but they also need not be used as sparingly as marriage apps either.

With this goal in mind, Practo Technologies Pvt. Ltd, India’s largest and best-funded healthcare technology start-up, is maximizing its use cases by adding a bunch of offerings apart from its doctor discovery service.

The company, backed by Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Tencent, Google Capital and others, has introduced doctor consultation and medicine delivery, started providing information, and even entered the beauty and wellness segment, initiatives which will make it a compelling proposition to be used at least once a week if not more, said Practo founder and chief executive Shashank N.D.

“We want to make sure that you don’t need to be unwell to come to our platform. We have built Practo Consult, which allows consumers to get free answers to their health questions from verified doctors. Practo Order, currently available in Bangalore, allows consumers to order medicines at home, because, for chronic patients, there is a regular schedule of medicine consumption. We have also launched Practo health feed that enables consumers to get access to high quality health content written by verified doctors. In the preventive healthcare space, we have the wellness and fitness segment, which is another reason for consumers to come to Practo even if they are not sick or unwell, and the use case of these consumers is more frequent,” said Shashank N.D.

Some of the new initiatives, such as consultation and medicine delivery, will also help Practo derive revenue from existing users, who currently do not pay for searching for doctors or diagnostic centres.

The company claims to have 200,000 doctors, 10,000 hospitals, 8,000 diagnostic centres and 4,000 wellness and fitness centres on its platform, besides facilitating 10-12 million monthly searches.

“You can’t increase the frequency of doctor discovery; people fall sick at a certain frequency and once you have discovered a doctor, you don’t need a health app for the same doctor. But Practo’s story is much bigger than doctor discovery and the vision is to take care of all your healthcare needs. Anybody, anywhere, trying to do anything with healthcare, will touch Practo. From that perspective, it becomes an enormous market,” said Rutvik Doshi, director at Inventus Capital Partners, a venture capital firm. Practo, which was valued at about $500 million during its last fundraising of $90 million in August, does not yet charge consumers for searching for doctors and clinics or booking an appointment. Listing on Practo is also free for doctors. Its revenue comes from Practo Ray, a doctor-facing practice management software sold as a subscription-based, software-as-a-service product, and Practo Reach, a sponsored listing service for hospitals and clinics.

Besides, the acquisition of Insta Health Solutions, a hospital information management solution provider and Qikwell Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which has expertise in appointment scheduling at hospitals, in September has helped the company increase its revenue from enterprises.

Revenue rose to Rs.29.73 crore in fiscal 2015 from Rs.2.30 crore a year earlier, while the company incurred a loss of Rs.12.85 crore in FY15, as against Rs.9.88 crore in the year-ago period, according to documents filed with the Registrar of Companies.

Practo has entered Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil, becoming one of the few homegrown consumer Internet startups to capitalize on some of the high-growth, but largely untapped global markets.

The company has so far raised about $124 million from investors such as Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Google Capital and Yuri Milner, the Russian billionaire and founder of DST Global among others.