When a loved one is in the need of urgent medical attention, wondering when the ambulance would arrive can become one of the most harrowing experiences of a person’s life. More so, when you live in a country notorious for its chaotic traffic. A country where navigating as little as 3kms in a metro city can take as long as 15 minutes. A country where the average ambulance response time can range anywhere from 20 minutes in urban areas to a whopping 40 minutes in rural areas.
It’s this broken medical transportation system in India that has brought Antoine Poirson, Prabhdeep Singh and Jose Leon together in the technology hub of Hyderabad. With an aim to drive the care in healthcare, these MBA graduates from INSEAD business school have founded StanPlus — a startup that aggregates and dispatches standardized life-saving services using an Uber-type model to accrue existing ambulance companies under one, unified system.
More than just ambulance aggregation
With 82 ambulances across 29 companies on board, StanPlus currently controls the largest fleet of ambulances in Hyderabad, and instantly dispatches the closest one with one phone call. “We can serve any request for ambulance within 15 minutes for 65% of Hyderabad’s estimated population of 8.5 million people. I think this in itself is a huge achievement,” avers StanPlus Co-Founder & COO, Antoine, who is an operations specialist from France with a background in industrial supply chains and engineering. “We plan to have 200 ambulances in the network by April, which will allow us to reach all 8.5 million citizens in less than 15 minutes. That will be a response time never achieved anywhere in India.”
A major emphasis is also being put on standardization of these vehicles because a large percentage of ambulances do not have trained staff (paramedics), and patients often suffer severe consequences because of lack of supplies within the vehicle. StanPlus trains its ambulance staff in person. The drivers are not only taught how to use the interface and navigation system, they are also given basic first-aid training to ensure they can react properly. The medical staff is trained on the job to properly operate and maintain the equipment as well as to interact with the patient.
Geospatial technologies for healthcare
On the technical side, Co-Founder & CTO Jose Leon, an industrial engineer from Costa Rica, is busy leveraging cutting-edge geospatial technologies to make StanPlus more efficient. “We are creating our own platform for dispatching of ambulances based heavily on hardware support from Azuga, which provides GPS units and geospatial servers. We are combining this with Web interfaces and Android apps. Both currently use Google Maps API for navigation, places, and map tiling. However, we are soon moving to heavily using Esri, as we have been accepted in their Startup Program,” explains Jose.
But some questions still remain unanswered: How can you locate someone in places where there is no address system? How do you deliver on-call services in the absence of reliable mobile communication networks? How do you use Big Data to anticipate where emergencies will happen, so you can respond faster? Which is why, StanPlus has partnered with what3words for voice communication of addresses. Backend geospatial analysis is being done with a combination of PostGIS for analysis and CARTO for map creation.
“Calling an ambulance, especially in an emergency situation, has to be as intuitive as possible because every second counts. This is why are establishing a call center to receive emergencies from patients, where highly trained operators using our dispatching systems can attend the call. The interfaces with ambulances are also intuitive, which decreases the friction for usage. We offer interfaces for drivers, ambulance owners, and call center operators,” Jose details.
Investment ecosystem for Indian healthcare startups
The man behind StanPlus’ business model is Co-Founder and CEO Prabhdeep. A pharmacist by training, Prabhdeep used to be an assistant to Glenmark Pharma’s CEO/MD, working on critical, strategic projects before taking over the leadership of the sales team in Hyderabad. Talking about the funding for the startup, he says, “The funding environment in India is not as buoyant as it was a couple of years ago. However, quality startups are being funded. This means that average time taken for the fund-raise has gone up significantly. We have raised our angel round that has given us a runway for next 3 months. We are currently in advanced discussions for the seed round.”
StanPlus’ seed round plans to raise slightly above half a million USD. These funds will be used to complete the company’s effort on Hyderabad market, make it a flagship city, fine tune the different processes, interfaces and revenue stream, and prepare for expansion. Godspeed, StanPlus!