Finding affordable primary medical care can be a headache for people in India. SeeDoc is one of the newest companies using technology to solve that problem. Based in New Delhi, its mobile app connects pre-screened doctors and patients through video calls. Since launching in November, SeeDoc has been downloaded 300,000 times and handled more than 15,000 video consultations.
SeeDoc was founded by Jaideep Singh and Vivek Bansal, two serial entrepreneurs who have also helmed startups in the United States (Singh co-founded people search engine Spock, which was acquired by Intelius, while Bansal held executive positions at Globespan after it purchased his software startup Ficon Technology).
Both men returned to India with their families several years ago and quickly became frustrated with the country’s healthcare system. Many people have to pay out-of-pocket for primary care, but have a hard time figuring out which providers are trustworthy, explains Bansal.
“We realized there is a huge gap in terms of providing good, transparent healthcare for families in India,” he told TechCrunch. “There are various malpractices and little focus on providing good primary care. I wanted to see how we can apply our technology backgrounds to solve accessibility and transparency issues.”
The platform currently has about 100 doctors (it plans to increase that number to 1,000 by the end of this year). In addition to general medicine, doctors also focus on dermatology, sexual health, and pediatric care. Users can ask a question by text for free, while video consultations range from 300 to 800 rupees, depending on each provider’s location and level of experience. On its busiest day so far since launching, SeeDoc handled 500 video consults.
Bansal says doctors respond to requests within two days, but the startup’s goal is to provide on-demand service. SeeDoc also has partnerships with pharmacies, clinics, and labs so users can get prescriptions, followup care, or tests if necessary.
India’s healthcare market is huge–according to a FICCI-KPMG report, it was worth $73.92 billion in 2011, but that amount will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 16 percent to $280 billion by 2020. Public healthcare systems vary widely throughout the country and many Indians are uninsured.
Several startups already use video-conferencing to help patients access quick and affordable care. SeeDoc’s competitors include Lybrate, which is backed by Tiger Global, and iCliniq. SeeDoc, which is currently closing its first funding round, plans to differentiate by making sure all of its doctors see patients regularly so they are guaranteed a steady income through the platform.
“One of the key aspects of our business model is to keep utilization of doctors high,” says Bansal. He says that all of SeeDoc’s doctors currently see about 30 patients a day, or the current maximum.
SeeDoc looks for doctors who have trained at top medical programs and have at least five to 15 years of experience. They also have to be willing to use the platform’s backend software, which is how SeeDoc standardizes care by making sure doctors are asking all the questions they need to make a diagnosis, addressing patient concerns, and referring them to pharmacies or labs if needed.
“The backend is really the key element of our business model,” says Bansal. “It can provide a very high quality of service as well as transparency and uniformity because the doctors have to follow it.”