With an objective to start a commercial venture with a social leaning, Hari Bharadwaj quit Amazon in July 2016 as director (logistics).
While the global average turnaround time for an ambulance to reach a patient is seven to eight minutes, in India it is 25-30 minutes due to the quality of ambulances, lack of transparency in pricing and under-trained drivers. In an attempt to resolve this, Bharadwaj decided to use technology in his own venture and, along with Dr Satish Agraharam, set up ambulance aggregator and India’s first medical taxi provider, eSahai.
Incorporated in September 2016, the start-up launched its commercial operations in March 2017 with three offerings — ambulance aggregation, medical taxi service and medical transportation management solution. It has partnered with various ambulance fleet owners and hospitals to aggregate the ambulances. With eSahai, an ambulance takes around 15-18 minutes to reach the patient.
Medical taxis, on the other hand, aim to provide comfortable and convenient transportation facilities to people such as senior citizens, pregnant women and so on who are not physically fit, but do not wish to use an ambulance. The taxis are owned by car owners or the drivers themselves, and as of now, the company bears the cost of the modifications done to the medical taxis, though it plans to have the cost reimbursed by the car owners in the future as and when the volume goes up. The management solution, aimed at helping hospital and healthcare providers to improve the efficiency of their taxi fleet, is being piloted presently with a couple of medical institutions that receive an estimated 15-20% of cost savings.
Operated by MyInd Medtech Innovations, the start-up follows the ‘on-demand’ business model — drivers and fleet owners are provided with a driver’s app, and the consumer app allows customers to book instantly or schedule an ambulance or medical taxi. Additionally, the app provides an option to search for the nearest blood banks and hospitals as well. “Since last month we have taken up an initiative called Call9 which aims to make the ambulance reach the patient in nine minutes. That is, nine minutes to the patient and nine minutes to hospital, so that doctor has 35-40 minutes of the golden hour to take care of the patient,” says Bharadwaj.
So far, eSahai has completed over 1,300 trips and has 160 ambulances and six medical taxis at its service. The average cost per ride for ambulances is around Rs.1,500. For medical taxis, the average is around Rs.300. A margin of 10-15% is drawn on the ambulance rides, while medical taxis, which are on lease have rate cards. The company has clocked a revenue of around Rs.3-4 lakh so far.
Starting off with an initial investment of Rs.40 lakh, the company recently raised an angel funding of about Rs.2 crore. The money is presently used in for scaling up to expand to more cities. With 35 partners across hospitals, diagnostic centres, dialysis centres and rehab centres that include names such as Call Health, Nephroplus and Suvitas, the company plans to scale up its operations further. “We are adding 30 more ambulances, 10 more medical taxis and planning to move to more cities like Vizag, Warangal, Vijayawada, Pune, Nagpur, Nasik, Mysore, Salem, Coimbatore, Madurai, etc. Early next year, we will be looking at metro cities, starting with Bengaluru,” Bharadwaj says.