Variety

Addressing health concerns online

| Updated on October 11, 2012 Published on October 11, 2012

From L to R: Dr Abhilash Thirupathy, Nitesh Pant, Shekhar Sahu, co-founders, HealthcareMagic

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“Everyone has a few nagging health questions but most of us do not know where to go.”

Individuals seek answers to everyday health questions like “why am I losing hair” or “I think I get tired and gasp for breath after climbing few stairs” – but avoid going to a specialist for the same as time constrain or sheer laziness holds them back. Such users also seek out the answers on the Internet or they ask their friends and end up getting unqualified answers or even worse - get conflicting answers which can be dangerous. HealthcareMagic was started to fill this gap, so that individuals can ask questions to a qualified doctor online and get their answers within minutes.



Starting out

“We wanted to start a venture which could cater to online users – this was in the year 2007-2008. We zeroed in on HealthcareMagic because we realised that every individual has few nagging health questions to ask and do not know where to go – which results in ignoring the symptoms till things become critical,” says Kunal Sinha, CEO and Founder, HealthcareMagic.

HealthcareMagic is an online platform that connects healthcare professionals (GPs, Specialists, Dieticians, Counsellors etc) to the end users online who have health related questions. For example, if an online user wants to ask a cardiology related question, a cardiologist will answer to his questions for a small fee within a couple of hours. The user can see the answer at HealthcareMagic.com. The user can also attach reports / photos etc with the question.

HealthcareMagic services are being delivered through three channels today. Online Retail – where a user searches for a health condition online and reaches HealthcareMagic.com and pays through his credit card to ask questions.

The second channel is the corporate segment where HealthcareMagic has signed up with over 54 clients in India to provide services to its employees and dependants. Clientele includes BMW, TATA AIA, SAP, McAfee, Akamai, Airbus and more. The charges are around Rs 800 - 1000 per employee and their dependents per year.HealthcareMagic services are also bundled with health insurance policies and sold along with the policy. Two of the largest private health insurance companies in India are working with the company.

“People do not visit a doctor when ill because of a few factors – lethargy or they think that their health issue is not a priority as it is not interfering with their day-to-day work. They also do not factor in that the time and money they save by not seeing a Doctor when they have a minor health issue results in a huge bill when the issue becomes chronic. In India, we have a mindset issue with respect to health where people do not give it as much importance as it needs and will visit a doctor when the health issue may be out of hand,” says 34-year old Sinha an IIT Kanpur graduate. Abhilash Thirupathy, Nitesh Pant and Shekhar Sahu are the other co-founders.



Is the idea unique?

Sinha says his platform offers huge advantage when compared to traditional healthcare service delivery models. “This is because they don’t have to wait and they get access to some of the most experienced professionals right from the comfort of home or office. They enjoy the advantage of our health advocates (customer care) who have vast experience in the way health problems need to be approached and managed.”

Challenges

But the start up has had challenges, the biggest one being the people’s mindset towards health issue in India. “People do not realise that health is so important that if it entails initial investments in terms of time and money it gives amazing long term returns,” says Sinha. People do not visit a doctor when ill because of a few factors – lethargy or they think that their health issue is not a priority as it is not interfering with their day-to-day work. They also do not factor in that the time and money they save by not seeing a Doctor when they have a minor health issue results in a huge bill when the issue becomes chronic. “In India, we have a mindset issue with respect to health where people do not give it as much importance as it needs and will visit a doctor when the health issue may be out of hand,” he says.

HealthcareMagic is looking to add new products and newer geographies as part of its growth strategy. It expect the doctor network to grow from 3500 specialists to over 15,000 specialists in three years.

“We are also investing in technologies that will enable us to reach out to people who do not have PCs at home and can use our services via their hand-held,” says Sinha.



(As told to Thomas K Thomas)

Published on October 11, 2012
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