PE honcho Bamasish Paul starts telehealth venture
Bamasish Paul wants to extend the benefits of remote diagnostics and automated doctor discovery services to patients from Northeast India.
Hence, he quit his cushy job as senior vice president of Canada-based private equity firm Brookfield Asset Management to start HealthEnablr, a startup that connects patients and physicians via video, telephonic conversations and messages.
HealthEnablr, which also provides doctor discovery services, began in Kolkata three months back. It has taken the lead by setting shop in relatively unexplored cities such as Guwahati and Shillong, Paul told Techcircle.in.
In comparison to the rest of India, the healthcare sector in the northeast region is yet to garner enough steam owing to the lack of infrastructure facilities and an acute paucity of trained medical professionals. Low budget tele-health centres can help in bridging this gap.
HealthEnablr, which is run by HealthEnablr India Pvt Ltd, also offers services in Pune, Delhi-NCR and Bangalore.
Paul, an alumnus of the University of Chicago, came on board Brookfield AMC after the latter acquired AIG Global Real Estate's AMC practise in India. Before the acquisition, he served as AIG Global Real Estate's India MD. Prior to AIG, he worked with The Chatterjee Group as assistant vice president.
HealthEnablr has two flagship products, namely PocCare and PocClinic.
With PocCare, patients can tele-consult a doctor, text a clinician and get answers to common questions, Paul said. Moreover, the startup also allows users to instantly connect with nurses over secure video. Patients can store their medical records online.
On the other hand, PocClinic helps physicians to streamline their practice, manage patient records, book appointments and so on.
Paul says that HealthEnablr is modelled on American Well, the Boston-based tele-health company that has raised over $128 million in funding since inception.
"Going forward with the advent of mobile technology and high-speed internet, a lot of doctor-patient interaction is going to move online, specifically to a mobile-centric environment," he said.
HealthEnablr has around 300 doctors on its network, a number that will scale up to 8000 by the current-year end.
Telemedicine has been talked about as the next big thing in the Indian context for several years now largely because healthcare services have traditionally been skewed in favour of the country's urban population. Over 700 million Indians are said to be deprived of primary healthcare services.
However, infrastructure bottlenecks and the lack of a monetisable business model have dissuaded the flow of capital into the telemedicine space.
So, how will HealthEnablr monetise its offerings?
The company will generate revenue by selling its telemedicine-related services such as video calls, telephonic appointments and messaging services to patients, Paul said.
It also works on a revenue sharing model with doctors that are part of its virtual clinic.
On the clinic management front, the company will generate revenue by offering subscription-based EMR software. It will also sell branded packages to doctors, Paul said.
At present, the free version of PocClinic is available for downloads. It will launch the paid version by October, Paul said.
HealthEnablr is also in talks with hospitals in Kolkata for a pilot project in post-operative care management. "We are in discussions for a strategic partnership where HealthEnablr will list their services on its platform to do targeted marketing and act as a lead generator," Paul added.
HealthEnablr would compete with the likes of Karma Healthcare, DoctorsCabin, eVaidya and others on the telemedicine side.
Practo, Lybrate, HelpingDoc, Praxify, AllizHealth and others would be its rivals for doctor discovery, listings and clinical management.
HealthEnablr, which is presently funded by Paul himself, is looking to raise over $5 million in Series A funding. Paul also expects family and friends to put upto $500,000 in his venture.
Online clinic management startups have been drawing considerable investor attention.
Practo, the largest in the segment, raised $90 million in Series C funding led by Chinese media and technology conglomerate Tencent Holdings last month.
In July, India and US-based Lybrate Inc, the company behind Lybrate.com, an online platform for patients to book appointments with doctors, raised $10.2 million in Series A round from VC firm Tiger Global Management and Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons.
Pune-based preventive healthcare startup AllizHealth, which identifies a patient's health risks through their health records, had secured $350,000 (Rs 2 crore) in funding from Mumbai Angels and a few other individual investors in June.