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Digitising and simplifying healthcare in 2016: Practo interview

AvantiKumar | Jan. 19, 2016
Digital Transformation: Shashank ND, a founder of Practo, which entered the Malaysian healthcare sector recently, gives his outlook in the region for the year ahead.

Founded 2008 in India, cloud-based business-to-business healthcare platform company Practo Technologies (Practo) set up in Malaysia last year as part of its expansion across Asia to simplify healthcare access.

Practo co-founder and chief executive officer Shashank ND said the startup's Practo Ray service already has 10,000+ doctors on the system.

When introduced to Malaysia last year, Practo founder and chief executive officer, Shashank ND, said the platform brings cloud-based tools Practo Search and Practo Ray to Malaysia, which will help Malaysians search for doctors across more than 350 clinics and 500 doctors listed on the platform. "With more than 50 percent coverage of private practices in Kuala Lumpur, Practo becomes the largest such database for the city."

Shashank offered some thoughts on digital healthcare with particular regard to Digital Transformation into 2016.


Shashank ND, Practo 

Photo - Shashank MD, Founder & CEO, Practo


Could you talk about mobile applications during the past year?

2015 was a big year for the adoption of mobile medical applications by healthcare professionals and consumers. From shifting to paper to electronic records, or allowing doctors to find and prescribe the right medicine in seconds, the healthcare industry has evolved fast and 2016 will be the year of how digitisation will transform the healthcare industry.

This year, we saw the beginning of convergence between devices and apps such as Practo used by clinicians and those used by consumers, which help more than 200,000 healthcare providers across the globe to connect and communicate amongst themselves and with their consumers as well. As a startup emerging from India's Silicon Valley, Bengaluru, Practo has put healthcare in the mainstream of startup innovations in Malaysia.

We have enabled consumers to make better healthcare decisions by providing detailed information about the doctor, hospital, diagnostic centres and clinics including the doctor's experience, specialisation, location, as well as detailed feedback from other patients.

How is Practo simplifying healthcare access?

Following our "Patient First" philosophy, we recognised that a patients' health information must be timely, accessible, accurate, and easy to comprehend in order for it to be beneficial and useful to consumers and doctors, with Practo's entry in the market, Malaysia will be the new healthcare destination in 2016. Practo is enabling patients and doctors to quickly search and find information at their fingertips and is paving the way for a digital revolution in healthcare. In 2016, we foresee a surge in medical tourism in Malaysia, with many foreigners using web platforms and apps to get better access and information. Health Ministry statistics showed that Malaysia recorded 770,000 foreign patients in 2013 with receipts of RM690 (US$157) million. In 2014, the number expanded to 800,000 medical tourists.

There is a great burden on healthcare providers to improve their clinical quality and efficiency across Malaysia. With Practo, getting access to healthcare data and using consolidated information via technology can now enable easy access of medical staff to the patient as well, while on the go. Gartner estimates that the healthcare sector in Malaysia was $292 million (MYR 940 million) in 2015. E-health and telehealth are key areas of IT development as the healthcare industry evolves toward connected healthcare.

With mental disorders on the rise and increase respiratory symptoms due to ecological hazards and other external forces, the rise to seek quality and accessible healthcare in Malaysia has become imperative.  For instance, the stigma around mental illness often prevents people from seeking proper care. However, technology is proving useful in overcoming stigma so people will seek help.  Use of technologies such as Practo significantly alters the experience of healthcare, by permitting a clearer exchange of information and greater control over disclosure between doctor and patients communication.

What do you see as the main drivers behind digitisation in 2016?

We are trying to build the most comprehensive healthcare platform in Malaysia and help 30.4 million users find doctors who specialise in dental care, skin care, mental health, critical care medicine, integrated medicine and 250 other specialties. With Practo Ray, we are also helping to alleviate this by increasing efficiencies, automating large amount of tasks and providing clinical benefit, so that the doctor can focus on treating patients and not on the day-to-day tasks of running a clinic.

Malaysians also have difficulty accessing healthcare in a timely manner due to high costs, distance, and lack of transportation. Even if people overcome these obstacles, the inefficiencies of the health care system may inhibit prompt treatment. Practo is on a mission to solve all these pain points and help mankind live healthier, longer lives across the globe.

Moving forward, we see growth in the future not only by getting more customers and doctors on board but also by expanding into new areas like preventive healthcare, wellness and fitness, prescriptions and medicine delivery and many more segments.  

We are also looking at big data and analytics to help reduce costs and improve care.  The smarter approach to healthcare is one that turns data into clinical and business insights for better outcomes and this will help us establish the foundation for a smarter healthcare platform.

We will continue to lead the way with Practo Search, as Asia's leading healthcare platform and Practo Ray, the practice management solution of choice for thousands of doctors managing billions of patients and digital healthcare records every year. With numerous digitisation and optimisation opportunities to make the healthcare industry fit for the digital age, we will continue to help billions of consumers make better healthcare decisions, live healthier and lead longer lives in Malaysia and across the globe.


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