Two years ago, Christopher Tan’s mother passed away from liver cirrhosis brought on by Hepatitis C. Even with the power of the internet, Tan and his family still had difficulties finding the right doctor to treat her condition. “We had to rely solely on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, family members, and colleagues,” explains Tan. “Eventually we found one, but even today among my siblings, our biggest regret is not being able to find the right doctor.”
Today, Tan is the co-founder of a Southeast Asian medtech startup called Tab a Doctor. According to him, the site helps Indonesian patients find and communicate with reputable doctors and medical specialists in Singapore and Malaysia, where the healthcare systems are more sophisticated and reliable than in Indonesia. Patients can chat with doctors online via private messaging and video consultations.
Tan emphasizes that his product is not merely a directory of hospitals, but rather a community where locals can engage with doctors whom they might otherwise not have access to. On the site, users can access free advice, compare doctor profiles, locate hospital information, get price quotations, book appointments, and arrange for hospital admissions. Tan says Tab a Doctor will soon roll out multiple-party video conferencing and direct mobile messaging between doctors and patients.
Upping the ante for medevac in SEA
Tan says his direct local competitors are companies like DocDoc and 65Doctor, but that Tab a Doctor is unique because it provides a more in-depth way to learn about each doctor through detailed user profiles. Tan also says his company currently differentiates itself by focusing only on the Indonesian market.
“Our focus now is on lead generation from Indonesia, and converting those into actual appointments,” says Tan. “The measurement for us is the number of genuine inquiries generated from our website.” Tab a Doctor launched in Bahasa Indonesia three months ago and Tan says the site has generated more than 500 genuine health inquiries. Tab a Doctor has signed up more than 1,150 medical specialists so far, from both Singapore and Malaysia, and partnered with 37 hospitals and medical centers.
Tab a Doctor even facilitates emergency airlift extractions out of Indonesia if necessary. Tan says:
We have partnered with a number of medical evacuation providers. […] We can coordinate rapid patient transfer by ambulance and commercial airline as well as by helicopter and private jet. Our doctors and nurses often accompany patients and provide critical care in transit.
Finding the right partners in medical tourism
Tan says his company recently signed a partnership agreement with Sinarmas MSIG Life Insurance to provide Tab a Doctor’s service to its policyholders. The startup has also partnered with local tourism companies Golden Rama and KBCJ to promote wellness health screening packages in Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bali.
Currently, Tab a Doctor generates revenue through administrative fees from partnering hospitals and medical centers. It will also soon charge a pay-per-use fee to patients who want to access the video conference and mobile messaging services. Tan didn’t comment on how much those fees actually are. He also remains unsure about exactly how much revenue Tab a Doctor can pull in over the next few years.
“It is still early for us to project our revenue for the next three to five years as some of our key paid services have not been rolled out yet,” explains Tan. “However, based on some of the track records achieved by similar service providers in the West such as HealthTap and ZocDoc, with the right resources in place, we believe a seven-digit revenue can be achieved by the end of 2015.”
Tab a Doctor is a fully bootstrapped operation to date, and Tan says he is actively looking for investors. According to him, the medical tourism market in Singapore and Malaysia is a US$1.35 billion industry with a compound annual growth rate of 15 to 20 percent. Indonesian patients account for about 60 to 70 percent of that market.