BANGALORE: Anyone who has undergone medical treatment in India knows that the final bill looks nothing like the hospital's initial estimate because patients are unaware of the inclusions and exclusions in a treatment package.
Startups such as CrediHealth and DocTree are trying to change this by bringing in transparency in the way healthcare is delivered.
"CrediHealth helped me get my PET Scan and MRI tests at about 30-40% discount at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute. They also helped me with room booking, doctors appointment and pickup and drop services," Delhi-based housewife Poonam Sethi said.
Sethi, 56, is a cancer patient with only her family savings to fund her chemotherapy treatment.
"I would get inundated with fran tic calls from friends and relatives seeking `insider' information about the best specialist or a hospital that wouldn't rip them off," said Ravi Virmani. He had earlier worked at Max Healthcare before who set up CrediHealth in January 2014 with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh.
"Healthcare is a very emotional decision-making process. You wouldn't visit a portal only for the discounted price," said Dr Sameer Mehta, a member of The Chennai Angels.
To help build patient trust and confidence in the mind of the patient, CrediHealth has employed nine inhouse doctors to guide the patient through a medical procedure.
It has tied up with 53 hospitals and more than 10,000 patients in Delhi and is planning to expand to Mumbai and Bangalore this year. The company expects to earn revenue of about Rs 15 crore by next year.
Dr Sreenivasan Narayana, 36, set up Bangalore-based Doctree.in to help those without medical insurance as well as international patients. "For an international patient, medical treatment in India is more about a commoditised service which they are looking for at a lower price. So, this model would work perfectly for them."
At DocTree, a patient needs to visit the online portal and specify his medical need be it a surgery or a consultation. DocTree will then send out the request to doctors in its network, negotiate the best price and get back within 24 hours with all the relevant information.
"I narrowed down on a hospital to get my aunt's gallbladder stone operated upon since I trusted the doctor, but when I approached them, they asked for Rs 87,000. DocTree got me the same procedure done for Rs 50,000," said Bangalore-based business man Satish Saraf.
"The increased volume urges the hospital to give a discount and patients get a better rate for procedures, so it is a win-win situation for both," said Ramesh Babu Byrapaneni, a partner at Ventureeast Tenet Fund.
DocTree was started with Narayana's personal investment of Rs 20 lakh in September 2012 and its revenue is expected to touch Rs 1.8 crore in fiscal 2015.
"DocTree provides a platform for second opinion wherein the patient not only gets enough options but also negotiated price for different treatments," said S Ram Kumar, CEO, S4 Holdings, which took a majority stake in DocTree for Rs 1 crore in June 2013.
DocTree works on an annual subscription model and has about 40 hospitals and 15,000 patients registered on the website. Currently available only in Bangalore, DocTree plans to take the services to 10 cities by next year.
"These startups are relieving some major pain points for patients and if they can get their trust, it can be a scalable business," Byrapaneni said.