13 June 2017 10:16:29 IST

Smoothening the medi-care curve

Start-up CrediHealth helps patients connect with various healthcare segments

Imagine the plight of someone like Sumathi’s brother from Dubai, who faced a hospital bill of over ₹8 lakh after he had an accident while on a visit to India. She had a hard time finding a hospital that would accept her brother’s foreign insurance.

It was then she found out about CrediHealth, which helped her identify hospitals that accepted foreign insurance.

Of course, there is always the internet. But take, for instance, someone wanting to know about procedures for heart transplant surgery and the cost involved. There will be a load of information that is irrelevant and confusing.

This is where CrediHealth helps. Ravi Virmani, Founder, CrediHealth, says these are the kind of services that people need.

The business

When people contact the Gurgaon-based start-up, they are put in touch with specialists in the field, who not only disseminate information related to procedure but also provide them suitable suggestions for free.

Virmani says, “Our main focus is chronic illness.”

The start-up helps patients connect with hospitals and ensures that they are not overcharged. There are around 630 hospitals in the company’s network across Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Indore and Ranchi. Other services include providing loans through partnership with a financial firm and speeding up pre-insurance clearance.

Though the start-up has a wide network of hospitals now, it was not easy convincing healthcare players, which were reluctant to embrace the new idea, according to Virmani.

“Our idea was simple. We promised them an increase in the number of admissions through our platform,” he explained.

Usually hospitals are 90 per cent staffed even on days when the average occupancy is 70 per cent. CrediHealth proposed to bridge the gap through its platform by bringing in more patients. While the ratio of consulting to admission is 9 per cent on average, CrediHealth ratio was 20 per cent.

Virmani said healthcare professionals were not willing to buy into it initially. “We had to work for free for a year to prove our concept,” he added.

In three years, the platform has 25,000 visitors a day, average admissions of about 14 per month and it managed to breakeven last year with revenue of ₹8 crore.

While the services are free for consumers, hospitals have to pay a subscription fee between ₹5 lakh and ₹30 lakh per year to be listed on the site. Virmani said, “depending on the number of admissions, the fee is renegotiated every six months.” With healthcare delivery segment, especially hospitals, growing at the rate of 18-20 per cent annually, Virmani is confident that they will close 2017-18 with ₹25 crore.

But to achieve that there is a lot that needs to be done, he feels.

Expansion plans

So far ₹14 crore has been invested in the company. It raised ₹10 crore in February for expansion and plans to raise another ₹100 crore in next three years through private equity. With the ₹100 crore, the company plans to expand to tier-III towns, invest in technology and launch ambulance services.

CrediHealth has tied up with a company that runs computer centres in 250 small towns in India. Virmani said, “We will be able increase our reach through the computer centres.” The company is working with a predictive analytics firm that is developing a remote diagnostic tool that can be deployed in small towns.

The tool will be able to identify chronic diseases, and connect patients to nearby hospitals at an earlier stage. It will take another 12-18 months for this to materialise, Virmani added.

The company has tied up with private companies and hospitals for ambulance services. “While we will not get any revenue from the service, it will be linked to hospital admissions,” he added. The service is available in Delhi and Hyderabad and will be launched in seven cities by October, he said.

(The article first appeared in The Hindu BusinessLine.)