16 February 2016 09:20:52 IST

Your family care clinic now just a click away

How Naresh Malhotra, a chartered accountant, revived the concept of family doctors

1996 : Vijay Mallya sells London-based Berger Paints for $66 million, his very first success in a major deal that was stitched together by his CFO.

2007 : The head of Café Coffee Day, the country’s largest coffee café chain, decides to call it a day, six years after joining the company, and growing it from an 18-café entity to 1,200 with valuation of over ₹1,000 crore.

Behind both these success stories was Naresh Malhotra, an unassuming chartered accountant, whose track record includes setting up the global consultancy firm KPMG’s India practice, and associations with Unilever and Colgate Palmolive.

Malhotra now hopes to do an encore with his own venture, Modern Family Doctor. "We wanted to be socially relevant for our clients and the idea came from there,” says Malhotra.

Modern Family Doctor (MFD) seeks to revive the concept of family doctors that was prevalent before corporate hospitals came into being. The company has its own clinics and pharmacies, and the clinics come with a bed, ECG equipment, a doctor on call and a nurse in attendance. “It is more of a mini hospital located round the corner,” says Malhotra. What the company has done is bring in technology to play where all the records of patients are computerised and can be accessed at any time. There are nearly two lakh records that are available at the click of a mouse. The entire IT needs are outsourced to a Coimbatore-based company.

All doctors who work in the clinics are on the company’s payroll and are paid about ₹50,000 a month and more, depending on their experience. Each of the clinics is about 1,000 sq ft, costs about ₹25 lakh and is mostly run by lady doctors. MFD has 42 clinics and 16 pharmacies across several cities and plans to open 100 such clinics every year.

Inorganic growth

The company is talking to State governments to get permission to run public health centres in villages. “We are beginning to realise that whenever a major disease like swine flu breaks out in a particular area, we are the ones who have all the necessary case history of patients. This can be accessed by local health officials, who can then take steps to tackle the issue. All this is because of the technology which we use to run our clinics,” Malhotra points out.

Tough beginning

However, the initial years weren’t easy for MFD. When it started its operations, Malhotra was shocked by the poor response. Ironically, it was because of the low consultation fee of ₹50 that the clinics charged, because of which most patients felt it did not merit their attention. Once Malhotra realised it, the fee was hiked to ₹150 and that led to an instant increase in the number of patients. The clinics now charge about ₹250. They have a gynaecologist, a physiotherapist and a paediatrician, apart from the general practitioner in attendance.

“We realised that primary care will not give us much revenues and hence, we turned it into a family care clinic,” says Malhotra.

The company has expanded its operations to the corporate sector and clinics have come up in each of their offices. Some of the big housing complexes too have MFD clinics, and the smaller ones can pay ₹50 per resident per month to have these clinics in their complex.

Pouring funds

The first cheque for setting up this venture came from Sequoia Capital, where Malhotra had been an operating partner earlier. The VC firm was convinced about the project and immediately wrote out a ₹10-crore cheque to start the venture. Since then, Sama Capital (₹4 crore) and Bamboo Finance (₹20 crore) have invested in the venture.

Malhotra is close to raising $25 million in the next round. This will see the company open at least 100 clinics a year and also acquire a chain of clinics. “Our goal is to be the medical provider of choice in all cities across the country,” says Malhotra.