Interviews

“To improve India’s image as “THE” healthcare destination, we should be looking at improving the quality of services”

Anurav-Rane

Believes Founder and CEO of PlanMyMedicalTrip.com, Anurav Rane. A portal that offers international patients access to medical care at competitive prices, Rane is actively involved in PMMT’s policy, operations and strategy-based decisions.  Before his stint with PMMT, he was a Partner at Dziner Holidays, a curator for theme-based travel holidays across India and abroad, for a decade. His area of expertise in domains such as management, marketing, public relations, fundraising and communications can also be credited to his contribution as a software engineer with CyberThinkInfotech, Ahmadabad.

As the company CEO, Anurav aims to capture at least 15% market share of the booming medical tourism sector by 2020. Over the next two years, he will also target annual sales worth 200 crores across online and offline channels. He is driven by the mission to provide quality medical support to customers regardless of where they are based. Rane in conversation with Health Technology.

Please tell us more about PlanMy Medical Trip? Please give us some more in-depth information on its unique business model?

Launched in 2012, PlanMyMedicalTrip.com (PMMT) is a Pune-based solutions provider for anyone looking for affordable medical services and necessary infrastructure at hospitals that best address the patient’s concern. PMMT is a unique platform that leverages its 1500+ tie-ups with reputed hospitals and doctors in India and Turkey to provide the best service to international patients. The portal, with its patient-friendly approach is driven by the commitment of providing end-to-end medical assistance to everyone in need. Unlike its competitors, it also allows users to compare the treatment costs across different city hospitals so they can make a prudent choice. The service is available for WWW, iOS and Android users.

PMMT not only guarantees medical services at an affordable price, it also handholds the patient and the caregiver through the tedious process of shifting to a new city for treatment. To this effect, it proactively helps them with arrangements like procuring medical visas, hotel bookings, transfers and air ambulance. PMMT’s many medical packages also cover an extensive list of treatments such as dental procedures, cosmetic and dermatological surgeries, organ transplants, cancer treatments, knee replacement, IVF, bypass surgery, weight-loss, anti-ageing and a host of others.

The platform has successfully treated over 3,000 patients since it launched in 2007 under the brand name Best Medical Centers. Its catalysts, who refer patients to PMMT, are spread across US, UK, Africa and Middle East to name a few.

The venture is run by a robust team of experts in the field of travel, medicine and technology. The business model attracts patients both online and offline. The cases are either referred to the site by catalysts who are spread all over the world, or the patient directly purchases a deal from the website. These patients are then treated at partner hospitals or a specific one if the request comes from a customer. For its services, PMMT charges a certain fee from the hospital and the patient gets the treatment at a cost that’s lesser than what he/she would pay without their intervention. An online customer can even book an appointment with the doctor or ask PMMT to do the needful. In addition, the platform extends the facility to its customers to entrust them with their travel bookings.

PMMT aims to establish tie-ups with all hospitals across India along with making inroads into other potential medical tourism destinations such as Brazil, Thailand, Egypt, Germany and Dubai. Its target is to capture 15% of the thriving medical tourism market that’s expected to reach $8 billion by 2020. It also wishes to facilitate patients’ stay in exotic destinations to aid their recovery process and take the sting away from long treatments.

How is the flow of international patients and how good is medical tourism in India? Your suggestion to make India a healthcare destination? 

We see no upper limit to the flow of international patients in India. We are picking the pace big time due to affordable health care services and good success rate. So far, the geographies we have tapped into are the ones that are already sending patients to India for quite some time. There are plenty of other territories that neither Medical Tourism organizations such as ours, nor the hospitals through their International Patients Department have tried to tap. We see tremendous growth in the near future as we start to market ourselves in these countries.

In order to improve India’s image as “THE” healthcare destination, we should be looking at improving the quality of services we provide. While there are excellent hospitals throughout India, there is also a concern about quality of service provided by majority of the other hospitals. We want these institutions and the people working for them to work for the welfare of the people rather than being treated as money minting factories. Our experience tells us that, rather than pushing the numbers, if we work on improving the quality of service, no country could dare to catch up with any industry in India, leave aside the Health Care sector.

Does PlanMyMedicalTrip.com does inbound tourism and inbound tourism?

While our primary focus has been and will be inbound tourism, we never say NO to other opportunities. Recently, we have tied up with hospitals in Turkey and wouldn’t deny a patient willing to visit the country for any kind of services.

What are Middle Eastern patient’s main priorities and main concerns when traveling for medical treatment?

There are 2 primary reasons for a Middle Eastern patient to travel to India for treatments: Cost of treatments and lack of trust. Even though the infrastructure in those regions might be satisfactory, these countries do not produce the quality of healthcare experts as India. On this note, it is also important to understand that majority of the patients travelling to India from the Middle East are either NRIs or from nearby countries.

How do you engage your patients and how do patients find you?

We engage our patients through our catalysts and by generating inquiries/sales through the website.

Has being a Certified Medical Tourism Specialist helped your business?

We aren’t certified by the government yet!

What are your company’s main goals?

We wish to provide quality healthcare services at affordable costs to people across the globe. We are working in the direction wherein, PlanMyMedicalTrip would be the platform that anyone across the globe could easily access to get the best suitable medical deal after comparing the benefits and drawbacks in various countries/institutions.

What is your company’s greatest strength and greatest challenge?

Strengths

  • Point 1:Currently, hospitals have their own International Patient Departments that handle patients from abroad. Not all hospitals are specialized in multiple treatments making it difficult for the patients to look for the right hospital to service their requirements. PMMT is a one-stop destination for all kinds of medical procedures in various cities across India and Turkey
  • Point 2:Any other organization/portal that provides Medical Tourism facilities always ask for the Medical Reports and Transcripts before providing a quote for any surgery the patient needs to undergo. At PMMT, using our vast experience and know-how of the industry has managed to convince doctors to provide quotes for various surgeries without looking at the reports. This facility allows our customers to compare the costs at various locations (cities) and hospitals before concluding the best option.
  • Point 3:The costs for each medical procedure we offer is always less than what the patient would end up paying if he goes directly to the hospital. We get this special rate card due to our wide reach across the globe and our substantial influence in the industry.
  • Point 4: Certain organizations operate in specific cities throughout India. We are present in most of the major cities throughout India and have recently started operations in Turkey.

Challenges

  • Challenge 1: Reaching out the people across the globe and to be able to provide them necessary services at affordable destinations closest to them. Solution:Creating a one-stop online destination for doctors, hospitals, catalysts and patients. Automated processes/algorithms that handle requests from all our stakeholders seamlessly.
  • Challenge 2: High costs of marketing and creating awareness in various regions across the globe. Solution:Until we raise another round :), we would be focusing on keeping the costs low by capitalizing on our existing resource pool and take help from our government which is also keen on projecting India as a Medical Tourism hub.

What are your expectations from the new government? Will it transform the healthcare sector?

There is no doubt the government about the transformation of the healthcare sector. The doubt is how much they would be able to achieve and how much time they would take. We have seen a lot of initiatives taken by the government so far, however we still are to see some strong results of these initiatives. We believe that health and education are connected with each other strongly in many ways and this government is playing its role on both sides – educating the people about how to stay healthier.

We expect the government to keep working at the same pace and leave the rest to the private sector. We will work hand-in-hand with the government to improve the health care services and contribute to the GDP of the country.

 

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