DocSuggest is your one stop solution to find the right kind of medical practitioner. Set up in 2009, the company now caters to a large clientele and has on board experts from various medical fields.
How often have you wanted to consult a doctor for an ailment that’s been troubling you, but just couldn’t decide who to call upon? Or you’ve wondered if your doctor was good enough and if you could possibly find someone better? This is where DocSuggest steps in. With its database of medical experts, it is your one stop solution to make an appointment with a doctor of your choice, all with a single phone call. The brainchild of Shantanu Jha, the company started in May 2009 in association with Keerthi Kiran Chennupati, Pushkar Soni and Pandey Anshuman Kishore, Jha’s colleagues from CA Technologies. What had started off as a small venture, grew over time by adding value to various stake holders in the model (patients, hospital management and doctors).
Pandey Anshuman Kishore says, “Shantanu discussed the idea with Keerthi Kiran Chennupati, his batch mate from IIT. As both of them are business analysts, they wanted to have people well versed with technology to build a balanced team. That is when they put forth the idea to Pushkar and me.”
Talking about the business idea, he says, “The idea took birth when Shantanu was looking for a doctor and couldn’t find one for the a common health ailment. That was when he decided to set up a company based on these lines. It was mainly targeted at people who came from other cities and found it difficult to find the right kind of expert.”
Giving up a well-paying a job to join a start-up was no easy task though. “Working with an MNC gives you monetary rewards. But in our hearts we knew that we were contributing to the GDP of the USA and not India. Also we did not want to start any business that made profits. This business model was perfect as it helped us serve the common man and benefits hospitals and doctors as well,” says Pandey.
“We didn’t want to create a website that simply publicised doctors and provided no feedback. We wanted to work in association with hospitals to help people get appointments both online and over the phone. Feedback from previous patients also played a major role when it came to finding the right kind of doctor,” says Pandey.
Working on a business model that few others had explored was challenging. “The four of us would take calls in shifts during the initial days. However, language proved to be a challenge as all four of us are from the North and could only speak broken Telugu. We also spent time with patients to understand the various problems they faced like long waiting hours etc. Initially, some doctors were hesitant to come on board. But over time they realise how things can get better with reviews. Hospital managements have always been supportive of the idea,” he explains. As the business grew, they got more employees on board by increasing calls. “We hired people from pharmaceutical backgrounds and created a huge database of common diseases and the relevant specialists who can treat them. Our call centre people will also help the patient to see the doctor based on their health condition and proximity,” he reveals.
He goes on to add that they built the database of medical experts using the resumes of doctors as provided by hospitals to build an expert’s profile. “We also used information that is provided on the MCI site. We created an algorithm that takes care of scheduled times and availability of their certifications and experience. On the flip side, there are many intangible things that the algorithm cannot find like the behaviour of the doctor with the patient and the effectiveness of the treatment provided. This is where the customer reviews play an important role in choosing an expert,” says Pandey.
However, these reviews have showed very good results over time. “Doctors are solving various issues that were raised by patients. Many times doctors don’t even know that the patient is waiting in the ward. But, with this system, the doctor can communicate with the patient about how much time it will take him or if the patient should take a later appointment,” he says.
Talking about the long term objective, he says, “We want to work with the government in bringing affordable and accessible health care for rural India by offering our technology.”