The pandemic outbreak has helped us realise the need to strengthen India’s emergency care ecosystem.
Dr Niraj Jha, who received training in the emergency care segment, says the emergency care system is weak across the country. For example, we mostly find junior doctors in the emergency care section, but we need the most senior doctors in place because one doesn’t know what case would come in.
Realising the need to cater to the emergency care segment, Dr Niraj Jha along with his friend Santosh Singh launched Medicvisor Pvt Ltd, better known by its brand name Hanuman in 2020.
The Patna-based last-mile delivery service provider offers immediate healthcare solutions, including ambulance services, diagnostic services, and home healthcare.
Prior to starting up, Dr Niraj was working as a hospital management consultant while Santosh was involved in client relations and marketing communications.
Earlier this month, the healthcare startup raised seed funding from Karekeba Ventures, an incubator-cum-impact investment platform. The startup had said the funds will be utilised for geographical expansion.
“Ambulance availability was already an issue in the country and COVID-19 only accelerated the problem by increasing its demand. In Patna, we also saw the soaring prices of ambulance services where a 10KM journey was charged around Rs 20,000. We decided to solve the issue through Hanuman,” Dr Niraj says.
Delivering emergency care
Dr Niraj reveals that Hanuman’s journey began in July by launching a toll-free number to connect with ambulance services.
“At that time, me and Santosh travelled around Bihar to distribute PPE kits and also help train ambulances to take care of COVID-19 patients,” he says.
Dr Niraj says they also launched e-rickshaw ambulances equipped with oxygen cylinders to meet the growing need.
“We transported around 3,000 patients within three months of launch through e-rickshaw ambulance, in which 700 of them were COVID-19 patients,” he says.
Post this, the duo realised the demand for the service, and formally launched the company in August 2020.
Dr Niraj explains that the on-demand ambulance service using toll-free number presented a challenge as it was not possible for the service operator to understand which ambulance would be nearest to the patient.
With this in mind, Hanuman launched its online portal and mobile app, which would essentially do the same thing as Ola and Uber, but with ambulances. The users can book the ambulance using the app and the nearest vehicle will reach them within 15 to 30 minutes.
“Apart from the mythological significance of Hanuman bringing Sanjeevani for Lord Rama, Hanuman also stands for help (H), accessibility (A), need (N), utility (U), and mankind (Man),” Dr Niraj reveals.
Business and more
Hanuman operates on a revenue-sharing model with the ambulance operators, and also works with them for maintenance of the vehicles and training of drivers. Apart from this, the startup also partners with diagnostic labs to provide services at home.
According to Dr Niraj, the startup has on-boarded over 350 ambulances, and is providing services in twenty-two districts of Bihar at present.
“Apart from Patna, Hanuman is receiving good traction in Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, and Darbhanga,” he adds.
The startup claims to have served seven thousand patients since July to date. ”For basic life support ambulances, the base fare is Rs 700 plus Rs 15 per km, and in case of advanced life support ambulance, users are charged Rs 300 base fare along with Rs 35 per km,” says Dr Niraj.
New Delhi-based Medulance Healthcare is also operating in a same sector. Founded in 2017, Medulance allows users to book an ambulance using its mobile app and the nearest available ambulance will be assigned to the user in order to ensure minimum turnaround time for emergency care.
Speaking about future plans, Dr Niraj says the startup has already started working on expanding its services in some cities of Jharkhand and small areas of NCR and Mumbai.
Apart from this, the startup is also looking to include transactional healthcare services like insulin administration, ECG check-up, fetal doppler, and eye checkups as a part of its home healthcare services.