Anytime, Anywhere Diagnosis
Interview with Sanjeev S, Founder of Medsphere, a tele-imaging company launched in 2007
When did you decide to become an entrepreneur? How did you arrive at that decision?
After 25 years of working in companies, I had enough of working for others. I led and successfully turned around two startups, and when one day somebody asked me why I don
’t launch my own company, I thought, ‘Why not’.
How did you get the idea to start Medsphere? How did the idea germinate?
As part of the senior management in GE and Siemens, with special focus on medical systems, I was deeply entrenched in the field of radiology. I noticed, at global conferences, that most of the discussions were related to dearth of competent radiologists in hospitals and solutions to tackle the same. The idea of exploring this opportunity took shape at a dinner with my radiologist friend in the US, when we were interrupted by a call for him from the hospital. I followed him to his room and saw that he was analyzing a patient's report on his computer screen. That's when I decided to bring the benefits of the internet to the healthcare segment. Another trend I witnessed was the growing attraction of medical students towards radiology. On one hand, fuelled by talent shortage, the salary packages of radiologists shot up from $220 to $400000 in the years 2003-06. Meanwhile, Radiology as a subject in the medical schools underwent a transformation. Earlier, they were dismissed as 'photographers'; students now saw the difference intervention radiology made in patient management, and chose it over other popular streams like cardiology, neurology etc. I found that this field had money, attracted interest and had a real need - so I decided to start Medsphere
Why did you start Medsphere? What is the problem it is addressing?
The need for immediate diagnostic services, especially in the field of radiology, is universal. However, it is a need that is not easily met. On one hand, there is a shortage of competent radiologists. On the other, reports cannot be analyzed during emergencies, especially during nighttime. In India, several smaller towns don't have the facilities and have to courier critical reports to hospitals in metros, which can take 36-72 hours. Our teleradiology software product - Instarad - aims to bridge these gaps by allowing radiologists to remotely receive and analyze patient reports and give their comments without being physically present in the hospital. It is built for the Indian market, allowing doctors to view reports on the go, through laptops and mobile phones. Our technology is well suited for Indian conditions, and works well even in case of low bandwidth.
Who exactly are your customers?
Our customers are primarily radiologists, working in diagnostic centers, hospital or engaged as radiology consultants. Our software has opened up opportunities for radiologists to establish themselves. We enable diagnostic centers and hospitals to scale up and handle volume, and help patients by providing them access to accurate, reliable and swift reporting. We started with zero clients in April 2007, and today our client list runs to over a 100.
What is your Unique Selling Point? How did you go about establishing it?
Technology. Putting together a robust product was tough and time consuming - it took us three months to build it. The challenges on the technological front were multiple, keeping in mind the difficult conditions of India like low bandwidth, connectivity issues, cost factor etc. We had to ensure that the integrity of the data was not compromised - even a loss of one image could be fatal to the patient. We went overboard to ensure that these points were taken care of by constantly working on our technology.
Are you worried about competition?
I am worried about my customers more than my competitors. Big companies like GE and Siemens are not addressing this market; they cannot afford to touch low cost solutions. On the other hand, smaller competitors are focused on 100 other things. Our focus is strongly on our product.
Where do you stand now? Where are you heading to?
The canvas was global, but we had to prove ourselves in India. I think we have done that. I am satisfied with the way we have grown. We are now looking at expanding in US and UK markets in the coming year.
What keeps you awake at night?
Fear that a customer will call to complain that he cannot connect to the system. That would be fatal to the patient. I am glad I haven’t received a call like that.
To learn more on Medsphere, visit www.medspheretech.com