Techie starts Medical Portal
By Hitesh Shetty
The booming IT industry in India has empowered many Tech Specialists to pursue their talents and passions. Meet Senthikumar.P.M, who graduated from Anna University, India and then had a decade long successful career as Techie, but left the security of a lucrative Tech sector to start a medical portal. This unique service brings Doctors and Patients together under one platform.
Techgoss (TG): Tell us about your educational and Techie work background?
Senthikumar.P.M: I did my engineering in Anna University, Chennai (94-98 batch). I have more than decade of experience in IT and started as developer and fell in love with technology. I joined Infosys in 2004 (from Siemens) and in 2006 moved to USA, worked as an Architect for some of the fortune 500 companies focused primarily the web. Infosys gave me wonderful platform to hone my knowledge and worked with some of the best persons in technology inside. I am fascinated by internet scale system such as Google’s, Amazon’s infrastructure etc which drove me to explore different and unconventional approach to system architecture. Technology, especially internet based started changing the world. It started its influence in politics, social, professional and day to day life long back.
TG: Who/ what inspired you to start a medical portal, considering you come from a tech background? How does the MocDoc business model work?
Senthikumar.P.M: I wanted to start something on the web, so I started doing background work. Being technologist gave me tremendous strength guiding and developing prototype easily. At times many of my friends ventured into helping me in multiple ways. That is greatest strength and created safety net to jump into unknown territory.
MocDoc was born out of urge to locate a doctor near an area in Chennai. I was traveling with my cousin and his friend called him to know the doctor near Velachery, Chennai. He called his cousin who is a doctor to find out a doctor for his friend. It took almost more than an hour to find out as he was busy with some surgery. That gave me spark and it took multiple calls with my doctor friends to find out usefulness of such a service and we started brainstorming the idea of MocDoc.
Besides, my other side of family are mostly doctors. So, medical field is kind of familiar to me. One of my friend’s in-law died waiting for cardiologist to do bypass surgery, since the doctors were not available for a couple of weeks and the slots were overbooked. He could not find alternative doctor in time as he was in some other country. If a system like MocDoc existed out then, he could have saved his in-law's life in time as doctors discovery is on the net and everywhere, he regrets.
TG: You have worked for tech giants like Infosys and could have continued with a very lucrative career. Did you have to save and build a certain financial base for security before you decided to launch your own startup?
Senthikumar.P.M: Startup is hard, very hard at least when you are working in a top MNC and thus settled comfortably, where you find it tough to break the equilibrium. It is like diving into unknown water, even if you know it is absolutely safe.
Something inside alerts you not to go for it - You need to overcome that feeling.
Secondly, build a safety net. I did build that in terms of financials and development of the company. One aspect of financials is using my savings, but not sure that's enough, so I floated the very idea of MocDoc to some of my friends who can afford to invest - most of them were committed to invest in MocDoc. Next, Find out the right persons to work with you. In the initial stage, it is the effort of limited people who get involved with you is what makes or breaks the company. MocDoc is not my first startup, I was trying to do something on mobile space in 2007 and then in e-commerce but could not move it forward after certain point.
TG: What hardware / software do you use in MocDoc? What were the factors you weighed before deciding on specific hardware / software? Obviously security software is of a prime concern for any system that holds sensitive medical information.
Senthikumar.P.M: We are using Cloud computing for its flexibility and we modeled our systems around the shortcomings in the cloud. We used open source components and tools heavily. JQuery/Bootstrap forms our UI stack, Eclipse is our primary IDE and Linux is our server platform. We use Mac and Linux flavored system for development.
Coming to security, we took utmost care protecting doctor/patient personal data. We are using encryption and message digest to protect certain aspect of the data. We also built a delegation mechanism for doctors to share certain aspect of their entire details - for instance, appointment management, calendar management can be delegated to front desk without sharing any other credentials. They can also be easily revoked if it is no longer needed. My experience with Siemens healthcare system, gave me hands on understanding about HIPPA and other security aspect in this area.
TG: Will an online platform like MocDoc be instrumental in bringing the doctors and patients closer than ever before and help both understand each other better?
Senthikumar.P.M: We strongly believe that. We build a social aspect in order for doctor to share health tips and their knowledge to their patients and public. Besides, doctor can more closely interact with others in this space easily using social feature.
TG: What is the revenue model of MocDoc? How effective has MocDoc function been for Doctors-Patients network in its short stint till date?
Senthikumar.P.M: We have more than 1000 doctors signed up already with MocDoc. We have more than 500 appointments served and we did not utilize any other media for projecting our services. We got a very impressive feedback from doctors and patients who used our system. This is very good considering that we launched MocDoc in the end of Jun 2012. Primary revenue model is premium features and advertisement.
TG: Which Indian startups / founders that you admire and see as good role models? Where do you look up from here?
Senthikumar.P.M: There are many startups in my list. MakeMyTrip and Redbus certainly figure on the top of my list. Bringing more doctors and hospitals into MocDoc is obviously our goal. We wanted to move north into more cities and also focus on bringing more feature for patients as well as doctors.