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Now, an online start-up to help you look for medical deals

DNBAN75892 | 6/29/2014 | Author : Suparna Goswami Bhattacharya | WC :402 | Business & Economy

Bangalore: It is not surprising to have a startling discrepancy between your final medical bill for surgery and the hospital estimates, thanks to taxes and other inclusions. As a result, many people in India, despite being in need of surgery, avoid visiting hospitals due to hidden costs.
Now, DocTree, a city-based start-up, is trying to address this issue. Set up in August 2012, the firm wants to address the concerns of those who do not have medical insurance.
"In India most do not have a medical insurance, and most medical surgeries and cases are unplanned. We have realised that leaving emergencies, upto 800 surgeries can be packaged if planned ahead," says Sreenivasan Narayana, founder & CEO, DocTree.
How it works is, a patient looking for various prices and hospital options for a particular surgery can visit the DocTree website, and specify the type of surgery he is looking for. Following this, DocTree will send out the request to doctors who are associated with them, negotiate the price, and revert within 24 hours.
"It is basically a platform where doctors and patients can interact virtually," says Narayana. He believes that information is king and patients should have a platform where they can choose their hospital as well as their doctor. "I have seen cases where a patient avoids a particular hospital apprehending high costs.
However, this is not always the case. Sometimes prices in corporate hospitals turn out to be very similar to those in an ordinary one," he says. Narayana, who was a practicing ENT surgeon before starting this venture, did his MBA from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. "My MBA stint gave me the idea of starting my venture. Having learnt the nuances in my MBA programme, I worked with a start-up following which I got the confidence to begin my own venture."
Within the website, there is a facility where patients can choose to get a second opinion, see different viewpoints to a particular surgery, and get a guaranteed price tag. Also, hospitals cannot change the price once quoted. Additional benefits include the ability to choose hospitals based on distance.
The doctors can reach more patients through this platform.
Another concern is how doctors may not be adept at advertising themselves and their skills. DocTree helps them do this by providing a platform where patients can write reviews about them. Consequently, this feedback helps them improve their quality of service.

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