It all started when Danish Ahmed, an alumnus of Delhi’s Sri Ram College of Commerce and an entrepreneur for 18 years, was scouting for opportunities that could create an impact and, at the same time, provide a good return on investment.
Ahmed realised that there is a huge scope in medical tourism in the country, especially at a time when the sector is mostly disorganised and there is no one-stop solution that is catering to the various needs of the patient or the family that would include, travel, accommodation, consultation, treatment and even post-treatment procedures.
Thus, was born Hospals, a start-up that is providing a comprehensive solution for those who want to visit countries like India, Thailand, Turkey or the UAE for medical or cosmetic treatments.
“We realised that there is a huge gap in the quality of healthcare facilities available globally and those available in the emerging countries across Asia and Africa,” said Ahmed who was looking for business opportunities after his earlier venture was acquired by Paytm.
“Just imagine that you have planners for marriages, interiors, events and so many other things. But there is no ‘surgery planner’ as such even though it involves so many different things,” he added.
The start-up claims to have served nearly 28,000 patients across 38 countries by partnering with over 120 hospitals and nearly 1,000 surgeons. It has a presence in Singapore, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Istanbul, Bangkok, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and plans to expand soon to Malaysia and Korea.
Along with Ahmed, the start-up has two more co-founders - Suneel Kapur and Obaidullah Junaid. While Kapur was earlier the group sales head for Fortis and Radiant Group and has led sales and marketing for some of the top hospitals across India, Juniad has more than a decade’s experience in the field of medical tourism, having built the segment for Apollo Hospitals in Africa and Middle East.
Some of the other team members of the start-up also come with prior experience in hospitals in India, Turkey and Thailand.
This is how it works at Hospals.
Say for instance, a person in Bangladesh wants to get a knee replacement surgery done and the patient decides to travel to India for treatment as there are no good hospitals in his home country.
When the person searches online for knee replacement surgery in India, he will see a listing of Hospals, though one could come through reference as well. Once on Hospals platform, one can see the list of top doctors who can perform the required surgery along with important details including, their total experience and number of surgeries performed along with the price.
Thereafter, the patient can submit his medical records and get an opinion and estimate from the surgeon. One can even book a teleconsult for $1 a minute.
If the person decides to travel then Hospals helps him with booking appointment, accommodation, tickets and even translators. There is a complimentary pick-up service also from the airport.
Interestingly, the start-up also helps in getting a loan, if needed, through its partnerships with various banks and post the surgery, the patient can even connect with physiotherapists, dieticians and chronic care consultancies from their hometown.
The venture is soon planning to add flights and accommodation services as well. The start-up has also tied-up with banks in some countries to facilitate loans for treatments.
“We have even added doctor ratings on our platform. The user can come to our platform, choose the doctor, send the reports and will get a reply from the doctor for free within 48 hours. It will include important details regarding the treatment and the cost,” said Ahmed.
This assumes significance as a report by Grand View Research stated that the global medical tourism market size, which was valued at $4 billion in 2021, is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.51 per cent from 2022 to 2030.
In terms of revenue, the venture earns a commission from the service providers whose services are used by customers. The start-up also earns a margin when users pay for the services on the platform. In other words, the individual does not have to bear any additional cost for using Hospals.
Currently, the annual revenue of the company is $8 million and it expects to touch $15 million by the end of the current year, primarily benefitting from the large backlog of patients who have not been able to travel for the last two years.
“Between July last year and March 2022, we have grown 10 times in terms of revenue. There is a huge backlog of patients as they were unable to travel during the last couple of years. We are expecting a 100 times growth in the next five years,” pointed out Ahmed.
The Delhi-based start-up, which was founded in 2018 and has a staff strength of around 25, has already registered two funding rounds with investors like Wavemaker, Spiral Ventures, Venture Catalyst, 9unicorns and IPV backing the venture.
We have already raised $3.5 million and are in discussions for another fund raise this year, Ahmed pointed out.
To sum it up, the Indian start-up is aiming to become the bridge between healthcare in developed and emerging countries and ultimately become the world’s largest heath travel platform.
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