Dr. Shravan Verma, MD CEO and Founder of Speedoc tells us about managing patients’ conditions at home.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Speedoc.
Dr. Shravan Verma: Having always had an interest in using technology to impact medicine, I chose to pursue biomedical engineering alongside electrical engineering at Duke University for my undergraduate studies. At that time, I saw my studies as a gateway to working on the research and development of medical devices, which fascinated me.
Upon graduation, however, I realized that it was very important to have the knowledge, understanding, and skills as a clinician to get to the root of some of the problems before working to solve them. That is why I continued on to Duke-NUS (National University of Singapore) Medical School after graduating in 2009 and became a Doctor of Medicine in 2014.
The idea of an app for on-demand medical services came to me while I was on rotation in the accident and emergency (A&E) department. I would notice many people coming for minor conditions, like stomach flu and constipation, and having to end up waiting three, four hours, and sometimes longer. It got me thinking there was a better way to manage these patients – and not in a hospital but in their communities.
Fast forward to 2017, I met my co-founder, Serene Cai, at a startup event, and we decided that my idea was worth a shot. We subsequently started Speedoc the same year.
What are some of Speedoc latest innovations?
Dr. Shravan Verma: Providing decentralized healthcare has always been Speedoc’s focus when it comes to developing new products. Since we already have doctors and nurses treating patients at home, we started exploring the possibility of recreating a hospital bed in the patient’s home.
We are currently working with a public hospital partner to pilot a Hospital at Home (HaH) programme, where we manage patients’ conditions at home instead of admitting them to a hospital ward. We are also working on developing clinical pathways to monitor and treat more complex conditions this way.
Aside from the Hospital at Home pilot, we also launched our Chronic Disease Home Management (CDHM™) programme in June last year. CDHM™ is a fully home-based management of chronic conditions in Southeast Asia to allow more patients to optimize the way they manage their chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol at the convenience of their own homes.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your business and finances?
Dr. Shravan Verma: We were fortunate that we were considered an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, our operations were largely unaffected, and we were able to continue seeing patients in their homes.
In fact, the pandemic has accelerated our growth, with a large spike in demand for our services as people avoided hospitals or clinics to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus and with more people learning about alternative ways to receive medical care.
I’m happy to share that we raised USD5 million in Series A funding round in December. Our revenue also surged 300 percent last year compared to 2019.
Has Speedoc grown in size thanks to this surge in demand?
Dr. Shravan Verma: We were able to ramp up our hiring of medical staff (both doctors and nurses), operational staff, as well as administrative staff. We were fortunate enough to be in a position where we could hire people who were regrettably let go from their previous roles in industries that were badly affected by the pandemic. We went from having just 12 employees last year to more than 60 now, and we’re still actively hiring medical staff and developers!
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Dr. Shravan Verma: Being an essential service, Speedoc has received a relatively small amount of support from the government. However, we are still grateful for any kind of support in these difficult times.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Shravan Verma: The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt accelerated the adoption of digital health worldwide. More and more people are getting accustomed to receiving medical care delivered to their doorstep the same way they’d have food and groceries delivered to them.
We foresee that in the future of medicine, people will no longer need to go to a hospital or clinic, but there’s this alternative where they can get the same or similar levels of medical care in their own homes.