Personal Finance

A leg-up for healthcare

Nalinakanthi V | Updated on March 12, 2018

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You can take cues from angels and private equity funds who invest in healthcare start-ups



The growing demand for better health facilities from India’s growing multitude has enthused many entrepreneurs to launch ventures in this space. While foreign and domestic institutional investors have steadily increased allocation to listed healthcare companies, private equity, venture capital firms and angel investors have loaded up on healthcare start-ups.

If you are looking for fresh ideas in the unlisted space, you can possibly look up to angels and private equity funds for cues. So, where are they investing? Home-based healthcare is one theme that angels and private equity funds seem quite excited about. With a growing number of Indian IT professionals migrating to other countries to pursue job opportunities, home-based healthcare has come as a blessing to the aged parents of NRIs, who stay alone in India.

These companies not only provide assistance to the elderly, but also offer affordable non-critical post-operative and palliative care. Prominent start-ups in this space include India Home Health Care (IHHC) and Portea.

Nursing care

India Home Health Care (IHHC) provides home-based nursing care for palliative patients and senior citizens who need assistance. IHHC employs around 700 nursing staff and provides registered nursing care for critically ill patients; this works cheaper than a hospital. “You can avail of the registered nurse service at just ₹2,400 a day; this is much lower than the ₹8,000-10,000 charged by leading private hospitals in the metros for an ICU bed” claims Anitha Arockiasamy, President, IHHC.

For those who require regular monitoring of vitals such as blood pressure and blood glucose levels, associated nurse services comes handy. IHHC offers medical care takers for patients who require assistance with their daily activities.

In 2013, the 40-year-old US-based home health care company Bayada Healthcare acquired 26 per cent stake in IHHC.

The home-healthcare market in India is estimated to be around $2 billion. To capitalise on the big opportunity in this segment, IHHC, which turned profitable in the third year of operation, plans foray into 10 more cities over the next three years and this includes metros Delhi, Mumbai and tier 2 cities such as Coimbatore, Mysore and Vishakhapatnam.

The Bengaluru-based Portea, started in 2013, by the entrepreneur couple Ganesh and Meena, also offers home-based healthcare services across 20 cities to seniors and terminally ill patients who require living assistance. With over 1,000 employees, Portea additionally offers physician consultation services.

Venture capital funds — Ventureast, Accel and Qualcomm Ventures — are among the notable investors in Portea.

One stop-shop

Nutrition and fitness supplement is the other theme that’s catching up with investors.

The growing consciousness among the younger generation to stay healthy and fit kindled the spark in Prashant Tandon and Sameer Maheshwari to create an online marketplace for nutrition and fitness supplements to tap the $2-3 billion market. Healthkart is now morphing into a one-stop-shop for fitness/nutrition supplements and also sells its own sports nutrition brand — Muscle Blaze — through the portal.

But the company is looking beyond just selling supplements. “We are also getting into fitness services market place and have recently launched the beta version of our services market place portal — phyzo” he adds. One can search for fitness trainers or gyms in their locality using the portal. Healthkart has plans to make it big in the customised fitness advisory business. “We will have trained nutritionists who can give advice on products/supplements/exercise for people to enable them achieve their fitness goals,” he explains.

Four years into the business Healthkart, with over one million registered customers, makes revenues in excess of ₹ 100 crore annually. Sequoia Capital and Intel, among others, have invested in Healthkart.

Besides supplements, its drug data base and online pharmacy app 1mg.com is also gaining ground. Almost 1.5 million people have downloaded the app so far, claims the company. The portal has a large data base of drugs, with information on substitutes and prices.

“You can also buy medicines through the 1mg.com portal. The service is currently available in three cities,” says Maheshwari.

Technology solutions

Offering technology solutions to doctors for managing their practice better is the other theme that clicked with angels and venture funds. Practo Technologies, a Bangalore-based technology start-up, offers SAS-based practise management software — Practo Ray — to physicians. Launched in 2008, Practo Ray is used by over 10,000 doctors across the country to manage their schedule, patient records and fee payments.

“Once you schedule an appointment using this software, a reminder is sent to the patient about the appointment and this reduces the number of no-shows” explains its co-founder Shashank. The software comes at a monthly fee, ranging between ₹1,000 and ₹5,000. Practo Ray caters to customers across 100 cities in India. Besides this, the company launched its doctor search portal Practo.com in 2013, which allows people to find doctors and book appointments online. “With the website and mobile app, we are doing about four million doctor searches. We have profiles of 1.25 lakh doctors across 35 cities, including photo and data on education, which are physically verified and validated by us” explains Shashank.

The portal also has patient feedback and review systems to enable consumers select the right doctor. Delhi-based helpmedoc.in, which commenced marketing operations in December 2014, aims at offering comprehensive healthcare solutions to patients under one roof.

The portal facilitates doctor searches and appointments and fixing appointments with diagnostic laboratories.

One can also buy medicines through their portal. “We are in talks with insurers to sell health insurance through the portal” says Suvro Ghosh, Founder of helpmedoc.in. The company also offers health cards for a fee; patients can avail discounts at diagnostic centres and pharmacies using this card.

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Published on May 03, 2015
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