Airbnb-like platform for doctors eyes Gauteng, KZN expansion
Health-technology start-up Ingress Healthcare is looking to make its platform available in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) very soon, after going live in December last year.
This is the word from CEO and co-founder Dr Jason McArthur, commenting on the next move for the platform described as the “Airbnb for those in the medical profession”.
Founded by three doctors – McArthur, Noxolo Gqada and Nicolina Bardou – in 2018, Ingress Healthcare is currently available in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Instead of acquiring its own building and staff, the platform allows medical practitioners to sublease underutilised consultation rooms in private practices and hospitals when they are available.
In addition, it offers hospital admission rights and theatre access through a pilot with two hospital groups, allowing specialists access to hospital facilities while still consulting outside of the hospital from the Ingress facility network.
Ingress is also a solution for practitioners wanting part-time flexibility, where they can switch their practice on and off when they need to, says McArthur.
He explains: “Our facility network is made up of private medical practices, hospitals and clinics, with underutilised consultation rooms. Facility owners register their facility with Ingress and outline precise specifications, such as availability and types of medical rooms available.
“The platform also provides full practice management for the practitioner, including bookings, scheduling, front desk, invoicing and financial management. It also makes practitioners discoverable and bookable to patients through our online search and booking platform.
“By integrating information about medical practitioners and open appointment times (at Ingress facilities) in a central location, patients can seamlessly search and book an Ingress Healthcare medical practitioner online, instantly.”
He emphasises that the consulting rooms belong to established private practices, hospitals and clinics.
According to McArthur, the motivation to come up with such a platform stems from wanting to overcome the substantial capital outlay of running and owning a practice.
Ingress provides a platform through which medical practitioners can establish themselves in private practice, while saving on rent and administration costs.
“On average, rent and administration can typically come to about 60% of a specialist’s or general practitioner’s revenue. By taking away the facility rental and outsourcing the receptionist and back-office work to the platform, they will end up paying far less.
“On average, Ingress charges a variable fee of 35% of what medical practitioners bill their patients. So if the doctor goes on holiday or has a quiet month, the costs fall away.”
The platform has enrolled 33 medical practitioners, and that number is expanding daily, he says. “We are intentionally limiting our enrolment speed to ensure we delight with service delivery and do not scale too fast. We will soon be in Gauteng and KZN.
“Each consultation room needs to be available for a consecutive four-hour session. The actual operating hours vary per facility, per day − with slots starting in the early morning to after hours,” he adds.
Commenting on the technology that makes the platform work, McArthur says Ingress is continuously innovating, bringing the best digital solutions for its practitioners and patients.
“Our turnkey medical practice solution makes use of the following digital tools: Ingress Healthcare online search and booking platform, telemedicine platform, practice management software, electronic patient records and payment solutions, online billing and multiple cashless payment solutions.”
Ingress Healthcare raised R5 million in January 2019, which came from Enso Equity as well as a local angel investor who is a property mogul. Each committed R2.5 million to the round.
Now, 11 investors under a group called Pegasus have invested R6 million, bringing the total investment in the start-up to R11 million since its inception.
McArthur says the money will help to scale the platform.
Speaking about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on business, he says the company hasn’t taken a knock.
“This sharing economy economic model makes our model even more appealing. We are easing the financial burden on both facilities and practitioners. We have also launched our virtual healthcare platform, allowing practitioners to consult from anywhere, and patients to easily access consultations from the comfort of their home, from any device.
“All medical facilities and practitioners follow stringent hygiene protocols under COVID-19 regulations,” McArthur concludes.