Ravi Virmani, former COO of Max Healthcare (a leading hospital network in India), used to get frantic calls from friends and relatives seeking ‘insider’ information about the best doctors and hospitals that wouldn’t rip them off. However, despite being an expert in the healthcare space, he was unable to offer them any help. Nor could he find any online agency that could source this information at the click of a button.

For Virmani, who has previous experience in founding a startup, this pain point rekindled the entrepreneurial spirit in him, once again.

What is Credihealth?

He launched Credihealth, an online platform that allows patients to compare and select the whole hospitalisation process from their homes. The startup has already on-boarded prominent doctors and partnered with leading hospital chains in all major cities in India — Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

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“We are the first player in the hospitalisation business in India that allow patients to compare and select doctors, hospitals, treatments and cost options from the comfort of their home,” says Virmani.

Based out of Gurgaon (near Delhi), Credihealth aims to make healthcare transparent for the common man. It leverages technology to provide wider access to healthcare, through information — like hospital and doctor credentials, procedures, treatments, feedback, and healthcare content, and trust via credible partners.

“Another aspect of Credihealth is that we bring transparency to the healthcare industry by listing verified reviews, price comparisons and multiple treatment options,” explains Virmani.

The startup was founded in 2013 by Virmani, along with Gaurav Gaggar and Saurabh Uboweja, in partnership with venture capitalist Hausela Capital Partners.

The benefits

Ravi Virmani21

Credihealth Co-founder Ravi Virmani

The startup has hired in-house medical experts who support users throughout their hospitalisation journey with options for super-specialist doctors, booking appointments, getting a second opinion, surgery quotes and feedback on doctors and hospitals. “These in-house medical experts help patients throughout their hospitalisation journey. No other startup offers [this kind of] personalised navigation,” says Virmani.

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Credihealth has partnered with over 410 hospitals including Max healthcare, Fortis healthcare, Medanta and Apollo Hospitals.

In addition, the portal provides premium content in the form of over 1,100 health articles and 250-plus doctor interviews. Virmani claims the portal sees approximately 150,000-plus page views and receive about 20,000 enquiries every month.

“We are in the business of hospitalisation and own the entire patient journey from initial evaluation to procedures and post-operative care, whereas our peers focus on consultation alone,” says Virmani.

The company claims to have served a number of international patients from neighbouring countries contributing to medical tourism in India, along with creating several online communities with over 12,000 members who discuss intricate health issues on a daily basis.

“This kind of personalised navigation through the complex healthcare system and online presence is only offered by Credihealth,” Virmani shares.

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Numbers and figures

According to a report by FICCI-KPMG, the Indian healthcare sector is estimated to touch US$280 billion in size by 2020 — more than double from what it was in 2012 — resulting in a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) growth rate of about 16 per cent.

“We see a 40 per cent increase in the number of people making informed decisions in the digital healthcare space. We are confident to see these numbers increase manifold over the next year,” says Virmani.

Competition in the market

Talking about competition in the market, which is dominated by Tencent Holdings-backed online doctor appointment startup Practo, Virmani says, “Practo is basically a SaaS company, whereas we are a services firm. Practo is following a Zomato-like approach on its way to becoming global. They are also looking to enter ‘wellness category’ and have not expressed interest in hospitalisation as of now.”

But for Practo, which has more than US$100 million funding in reserve, it will be easy to foray into this space by partnering with or acquiring companies.

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However, Virmani is confident that Credihealth will always have first-mover advantage. “Besides this, signing up with hospitals is a strenuous and complex process. If Practo or any other organisation do decide to enter the hospitalisation industry, they would take at least eight to 12 months to set up operations, and hopefully by then we would have the first-mover advantage,” he goes on.

While there are immense opportunities, the startup also faces key challenges related to attracting talent and leveraging technology for scalability.

Bootstrapped till date, Credihealth is currently in talks to raise its first institutional round of  funding to take the company to the next level.

Image Credit: Suwin/Shutterstock