The medical industry is not always aÂ glamourizedÂ 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 discussÂ 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 platformÂ 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.
e27Â 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 forÂ treatment exists so the first step is to educate them about whatÂ options are available to them aborad and how those options compare toÂ what’s available to them locally.
We need to understand the reasons why a patient would want to travelÂ abroad for treatment. These can be because of the cost of theÂ treatment, the quality of treatment, or the availability of the rightÂ doctors. It is important to remember that each patient has differentÂ needs and so we can’t provide a one size fits all solution. But whatÂ we can do is make their life easier and help them do the preliminaryÂ research and guide them through a selection process for the rightÂ facilitator. A patient benefits from having options, we are givingÂ them the ability to compare those options in one place.
For now, the site seems like an aggregator, what are your futureÂ plans for it?
We are moving away from a data centric model that simply aggregatesÂ prices to a knowledge based one. It’s not enough to aggregate data,Â we need to add value to that data so it turns into information ourÂ patients can absorb. Our community of users then adds context to thisÂ information by way of shared treatment experiences so it becomesÂ knowledge that others can use as a basis for making decisions. TheÂ future plans for the site are quite simply to continue helpingÂ patients get the treatment they need. If it’s good for our patients,Â 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 Â and facilitator matching, upgraded listings and advertising.
For all business, getting initial traction is the most difficultÂ step. How do you plan to reach out to the right customers and goodÂ medical practitioners to come on board?
Knowing where to fish is 90% of the challenge. Fortunately, I came from aÂ Pharmaceutical Sales background and spent the last few yearsÂ big game fishing. This is probably one of the greatest advantagesÂ we have since I can apply everything I’ve been doing in my day job for theÂ last few years directly to the acquisistion and activation phases ofÂ our marketing plan.
What are the reasons and remedies that patients are seeking whenÂ they travel as a medical tourist?
The most common procedures for medical tourism are: cosmetic andÂ reconstructive surgery, orthopedic surgery, dental surgery, and weightÂ loss surgery.