Investments in the healthcare startup market have seen a huge rise during the last year with over $3.5 billion in investments and 45 deals in the Asia-Pacific region. In Pakistan, we have seen some healthcare eCommerce websites but a huge market still remains untapped. Even at the Startup Expo this year, only two healthcare startups came forward from a total of 100. Today, we are putting a spotlight on a bunch of young students who are trying to change the dynamics of the health care system in Pakistan.
If you live in Pakistan you must have gone through a situation where you were in desperate need of a good doctor, but you were left helpless in the face of adversity. With the number of quacks sprouting up in every street, you don’t know who to trust. Which doctor should I choose? Will this be the right choice for me? It is common to ask yourself these questions and usually you end up putting your trust in Allah.
The idea behind the startup
Keeping Pakistan’s crippling healthcare system in mind, Haris Durani, Hamza Iqbal, Saad Riaz and Hamza Imran, four students from LUMS, are striving to make a change. The idea for their startup, which is a website by the name of ‘Healthwire‘, was conceived when one of the co-founders found it hard to get a good dentist in the city. Even after asking around, he was left helpless. That was when he realized that booking appointments and finding a good doctor is definitely a problem in Pakistan that needs to be addressed.
Ever since then these four students have been working on their product. Their startup was incubated in LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship in April this year. Their website is in the beta stage which they plan to launch soon, with an app in the pipeline as well. They have convinced over 30+ hospitals and medical complexes to register themselves with their website. They are taking things slow in the beginning while starting with doctors from Lahore for now, but they will hopefully spread to all other major cities as well.
How will doctors & patients use Healthwire?
The main question is how will this website be actually used? Doctors and patients will both be able to use this service. All registered doctors will have a personalized profile on the website and all profiles will be verified by their PMDC IDs. Their profile will showcase their professional information i.e. qualification, specialization, which will help patients in making a better decision. The website basically digitizes the conventional appointment system by allowing patients to book an appointment online 24/7 and doctors don’t have to worry about after hour’s access. This service will also remind a patient of their upcoming appointments.
Patients will be able to browse through the website and look for a doctor that is better suited for their condition. They can also filter the results according to their location, a doctor’s specialization etc. Patients can check visiting hours and book appointments instantly. Another feature of this service is that a doctor’s profile will include rating from verified patients which can help other patients in making better and informed decisions. Doctors on Healthwire, at the very least, will be Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) registered.
Here’s what the co-founders have to say
“With Healthwire we are aiming to empower the patient who has traditionally been completely dependent on either a friend or a relative to tell them where or how to find a doctor. We want you to become independent, by providing you key information about the doctors around you so that you can make informed choices and not regret later on. Accessibility to information is the right of every human being and with technology this has become an easier task than ever. We believe this is just a drop in the ocean to a better healthcare system in Pakistan but this can only be possible with your help.”
The co-founders have already surveyed some hospitals where they received a positive and encouraging response from the doctors. They even talked with some of the patients who said they would definitely use Healthwire. However, the older population remained a little confused.
What remains to be seen is how these people take forth their product. How will they make sure that the appointments are actually legit? In a country like Pakistan where technology appears to be booming, there is still a significant portion of the population that is unaware and does not know how to use tech gadgets. That portion of the population struggles more and needs better guidance. However, having said that we hope that in time Healthwire is able to revive our healthcare system and we wish these four resilient students the very best!