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News  5, Jul 2012

Medisherpa aggregates medical tourism information for patients to compare prices internationally

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The medical industry is not always a glamourized industry. Taking it on requires a huge amount of domain expertise as well as courage, just like what the founders of Medisherpa are doing.

With the backing from MDA’s iJam grant, Medisherpa is trying to democratize the access towards medical information. What they are providing is a platform that aggregates medical tourism information and helps patients find and compare the cost of medical procedures around the world. Whether they need a local doctor , overseas dentist, a plastic surgeon, cancer specialist, a fertility expert or a laser eye surgeon, Medisherpa shows patients safe and affordable options, even helps them choose and contact a suitable clinic till they’ve receive treatment.

The platform offers a threefold benefit whereby patients can use the platform to research and discuss what medical travel options are out there, find a ‘recovery buddy’,and even help healthcare professionals can get a much wider expertise exposure. It also doubles up as an advertising platform for the social medical travel industry. Medisherpa.com will be free to users, with revenue deriving mainly from display advertisements on the website, and a tiered membership scheme for healthcare professionals and service providers who want to be listed on the site.

e27 caught up with the founder, Michael Ruggles to find out more about the startup:

How does your service simplify the process for a medical tourist?

A lot of patients don’t even know the option of going abroad for treatment exists so the first step is to educate them about what options are available to them aborad and how those options compare to what’s available to them locally.

We need to understand the reasons why a patient would want to travel abroad for treatment. These can be because of the cost of the treatment, the quality of treatment, or the availability of the right doctors. It is important to remember that each patient has different needs and so we can’t provide a one size fits all solution. But what we can do is make their life easier and help them do the preliminary research and guide them through a selection process for the right facilitator. A patient benefits from having options, we are giving them the ability to compare those options in one place.

For now, the site seems like an aggregator, what are your future plans for it?

We are moving away from a data centric model that simply aggregates prices to a knowledge based one. It’s not enough to aggregate data, we need to add value to that data so it turns into information our patients can absorb. Our community of users then adds context to this information by way of shared treatment experiences so it becomes knowledge that others can use as a basis for making decisions. The future plans for the site are quite simply to continue helping patients get the treatment they need. If it’s good for our patients, it’s good for us.

Where do you see your revenue coming from?

The multiple sources of revenue that are currently in place and active include patient  and facilitator matching, upgraded listings and advertising.

For all business, getting initial traction is the most difficult step. How do you plan to reach out to the right customers and good medical practitioners to come on board?

Knowing where to fish is 90% of the challenge. Fortunately, I came from a Pharmaceutical Sales background and spent the last few years big game fishing. This is probably one of the greatest advantages we have since I can apply everything I’ve been doing in my day job for the last few years directly to the acquisistion and activation phases of our marketing plan.

What are the reasons and remedies that patients are seeking when they travel as a medical tourist?

The most common procedures for medical tourism are: cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, orthopedic surgery, dental surgery, and weight loss surgery.

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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