3 IITians are building Stack Overflow for health care: GrowthTalks

Genesis of Curofy

Did you or your loved one fall sick and the chosen doctor referred the patient to another doctor? What is the underlying belief in this recommendation — word-of-mouth (friendship) or expertise?

Imagine a doctor having access to an extensive and refined network of active specialists or super-specialist in few minutes. Imagine if this network was pan-India or even global. This is what Curofy aims to achieve and the team is justifying it (read the success stories at the end).

The team at Curofy initially experimented with a medical tourism company, which achieved a fair bit of success. After interacting with number of doctors and stakeholders in the industry, they identified a huge gap in the way doctors interact and collaborate. 

The team of IITians are doing what Github and Stack Overflow did for open source developers. 

What led them to build a highly engaged community of doctors? What mistakes did they make while building it? And what rights things they did?

Talking is easy but execution is what matters the most. Getting to a community of 15,000 doctors in almost an year hasn’t been easy. 

Mistakes made

Not spend time with users before introducing a service: The team built a web app without validating whether their target users would use it. They just knew that bringing the doctors together would be nice but, they had no clue about how and what was there in it for them. They didn’t understand healthcare industry and doctors problems and behaviour. 

“From my journey I would say, before making a product you should always speak to as many users as possible. Dig deep into the behaviour of your users to understand the first two features to launch with”. — Pawan Gupta, Cofounder, Curofy

Cost of making the mistake: They didn’t understand why no one was engaging with the app for first 6 months. 

Learning: A web app is useless as doctors hardly use laptop beyond writing prescriptions. Why would they use it after work? They failed to understand the basic user behaviour.

And they also realised they were asking wrong questions to the doctors viz finding direct reasons of using the app. 

Rectifying measures 

Then their team started meeting doctors with focus on questions which revealed their present habits such as:

How do you find jobs today?

How do you stay updated?

How do you refer doctors?

You should closely observe what the users are doing today about the problem you are about to solve, without your solution. And ask them all question about their present actions. — Pawan Gupta, Cofounder, Curofy

They were wondering why wasn’t this happening? They found that the doctors aren’t communicating with each other.

They researched about similar platforms in healthcare abroad though that didn’t help much as nothing could be replicated. Healthcare in the west is very different from the east. China’s healthcare is close but Chinese people are very different from Indians so their system couldn’t be adopted. Finally, we realised a collaborative platform such as stack overflow is the need of hour as there was no dedicated platform for exchange of knowledge and best practises in the world.

How doctors engage with Curofy today

The real problem they identified after doing almost 1000 user interviews and asking the right questions was:

  • The fresh medical graduates need jobs and fellowship
  • Doctors in the age group of 30–35 years want to learn from the experience of seniors and know more people in their specialty
  • The doctors in 40–45 age group understand from where they are going to earn money. Now they want to gain reputation and be recognised

Doctors like to be in their own space. They don’t spend much time with technology beyond work. This led them to narrow down their target user base to the doctors who already use social media and understands the need to stay connected.

Today doctors interact with each other, post special cases (solved and unsolved) and find jobs through Curofy. Most of the interactions happen over the current patients.

In almost an year, today more than 15,000 doctors from 150 cities engage through Curofy. The engagement has produced good results and here are two of them: 

Two Impact Stories

  • A new-born child from a remote town in Bihar was very critical and the required specialised doctors were not available in neighbourhood. The consulting doctor in town posted her case on the App, which was noticed by our community doctors in Max, New Delhi. She was airlifted to Delhi without any delay. Unfortunately she couldn’t survive but this gives up hope for any future case and we could save lives.
  • And another case of a girl child was posted by a Physician from a small town in MP. After a few comments among the doctors in our communuty, they diagnosed that this could be a potential case of Leukaemia. In normal times, this would have taken months to diagnose and lakhs of such patients go undiagnosed. This is the power of a networked and engaging community.

On asking one piece of advice for young entrepreneurs, this is what Pawan had to convey.

Never push people to increase your app downloads rather explain them how it could help them and it will increase their engagement with the app.

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Pawan Gupta, Cofounder, Curofy (9th from right)

Pawan Gupta, Cofounder, Curofy (9th from right)