Why is Practo Search Free?
Over the last few days, we have heard a few reports on social media that have implied that Practo Search is paid or that it has a mechanism where doctors can pay to boost their rank in the search results. We wanted to take a moment to help clarify this.
We started Practo 8 years ago with a single mission – to help people live healthier longer lives. We believe this is possible if people make better healthcare choices. One of the most important choice for this is your choice of healthcare provider (HCP) – whether it is a doctor, a hospital, or a diagnostic lab.
3 years ago, when we launched Practo Search, one of the things we wanted it to do was help consumers discover healthcare providers so they could select the one they could afford. Amongst other things, we believed Search should solve for accessibility and affordability – two of the biggest problems that are faced by our country with regards to healthcare. At that time, we also laid down the following 4 core principles behind this product:
- Free: Practo Search must be free to use
- Reliable: Practo Search should provide information that is reliable and verified
- Comprehensive: It should list all healthcare providers to provide maximum choice to consumers
- Unbiased: There should be no paid listings or any bias in how it shows the most relevant results to a user.
As we looked at these 4 principles, we realised that the only way to deliver on all 4 was to make search entirely free for doctors as well because if we make listing on Practo Search paid, then, we will not only restrict consumer choice to only those doctors who are willing to pay Practo for the listing but it would also make it difficult to control the quality and the overall consumer experience – hence all listings on Practo are free. They always have been, and they always will be.
So, what is Practo Reach? Isn’t that your premium listing?
This is the other question that has sometimes confused people and we need to do a better job of communicating the differentiation here.
Practo Reach is NOT premium listing. We do NOT have any paid listings for doctors on Practo because in many countries, including India, it is illegal for a doctor to pay and list on any platform so obviously, we do not do this.
Practo Reach is an ad platform for healthcare establishments. As per the MCI regulations in India, healthcare establishments like hospitals and clinics can advertise within certain parameters and Practo Reach is our hyper local targeted ad platform that allows establishments to advertise to the relevant consumers within the parameter set by MCI.
Practo Reach ad slots are shown above our organic search results (much like Google Adwords), they are clearly marked as “sponsored” and are only for establishments. They do not have any bearing on the organic listing in our search results. To be categoric, no doctor or institution can pay to boost their rank in the organic results.
Few improvements to Search
Over the last 2-3 years of running Practo Search and serving up hundreds of millions of search results, we have learnt a few things and we are now putting these back into the product to make your search experience even better. Over the next few weeks you will start seeing the following changes:
- Segregation: Over the next few weeks, one of the big changes we’re making is the segregation between Allopathic and alternate medicine. We’ve realised that consumers, when looking for doctors have pre-decided on whether they want allopathy or alternate medicines. These medicine disciplines were mixed in our search results earlier, we will now segregate these out so it is easier for consumers to directly search for and find the practitioners from their preferred school of medicine.
- Data Accuracy: We are also doubling down on ensuring that the some of the data – such as clinic open times and fees are much more accurate on our listings. Today we know that around 2% of this data is not accurate. However, with millions of users, the 2% still translates into thousands of users who have a less than great experience on our platform.
- Guarantee Scheme: We understand that having to wait or not having a doctor available when you or a loved one is unwell is a terrible thing. Currently around 99.6% of consumers on Practo have a seamless experience, but, the 0.4% bothers us. Because even one is one too many. So we are launching a guarantee scheme so you can hold us accountable. If you book an appointment on Practo and get stood up by a doctor, we will give you 1,000 rupees as penalty for a poor experience and will book you an alternate appointment immediately – if you want. It will obviously not make up for the poor experience but this is your health and we should deliver the experience we promise to every last consumers who visits us. 100% delivery is the only right answer here.
Today consumers perform over 100M searches on Practo Search and we help them find the right healthcare provider. We realise that this is a huge responsibility and we hope that with some of these changes you will have a much better experience with Practo Search and it will help you find the right healthcare provider for you and your loved ones.\