The second wave of Covid-19 has hit India with such ferocity that it has left people gasping for breath, hospital beds and medicines, not to mention ambulances to reach the hospitals for treatment. A normal ambulance takes around 45 minutes to reach a patient, but, given the ever-rising demand, they are taking hours to pick up patients – and that too, when they are available.
Quality medical care at the earliest during an emergency is of grave importance. And this is where Hyderabad-headquartered medical transportation services StanPlus steps in, and through its Red Ambulance platform, seeks to ensure that a well-equipped ambulance can reach a patient within 15 minutes.
Currently, StanPlus owns 130 ambulances of its own and operates a network of over 3,000 ambulances via partnerships. Besides Hyderabad, the startup has extended its services to Raipur, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Bhubaneshwar, and Vizag and is expanding at a very fast rate as it penetrates metros and tier 1 and 2 cities. In the past month, StanPlus has managed to transfer almost 1300 Covid patients.
“When you talk about saving lives and emergency response, ensuring peace of mind to patients and family is primary. We focus on that by making sure that we answer their calls within seconds and providing them with our best till they reach their destination. The second wave of Covid-19 has been a huge struggle for the ambulance industry in general. We differentiate ourselves on quality and quick response time. These times are unimaginable, but StanPlus ensures that a well-equipped, state of art, life support ambulance can reach your doorstep on time,” says founder and CEO Prabhdeep Singh.
Having experienced a massive response to their ambulance services in Hyderabad, StanPlus recently forayed into the Bengaluru market. “Over the past one year we have grown 5x times. We recently brought our Red Ambulance services to Bengaluru and are now focusing on cities like Indore, Kolkata, Pune and Mumbai. We look forward to capture all these markets before going to the NCR… we will enter Indore in the next three months,” he adds.
In Bengaluru, StanPlus has an association with Fortis, Sakra, Ramaiah Medical College, South Columbia Asia Hospital, the Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences, and Mallige Hospital.
Apart from private ambulance services catering to its clients, StanPlus has emerged with a new product called RedAssist, under which they help corporates with sourcing resources for any Covid related requirement. “Our client base includes many Fortune 500 companies, and we are glad that we are developing this product with these esteemed brands. It helps us make it more efficient, develop faster and save more lives at the same time,” says Singh.
The StanFleet includes the following services:
Patient Transport Vehicle – A small or large van used to transport patients who are in stable condition and do not need anything more than oxygen. The key equipment in the vehicle includes hydraulic stretcher (large), slide stretcher (small), oxygen cylinders, extra seats for passengers and first aid kit.
Basic Life Support – A large van with key basic medical facilities but not equipped to sustain unstable patients for a prolonged duration. The key equipment includes immobilisation sets, monitoring and diagnostic oxygen supply and basic respiratory support, consumables and disposables and safety tools.
Advanced Life Support – A large van with equipment for unstable patients utilised in emergency situations and long-distance transfers. The key equipment includes all basic life support equipment, respiratory support infusion and drug administration equipment.
Medical Utility Vehicle -A state-of-the-art small or large van that is designed to facilitate the movement and transfer of patients. The key equipment includes wheelchair access, helpers for mobility and seat swivel.
THE INITIAL JOURNEY
Singh co-founded StanPlus in 2016 with two of his INSEAD batchmates Jose Leon (now CTO, Stanplus) and Antoine Poirson (now COO, StanPlus)
Hailing from Chandigarh, Singh is a trained pharmacist and did his MBA from NMIMS, Mumbai after which he worked for five years in Glenmark Pharmaceuticals. At Glenmark, he was part of the Global Corporate Strategy group and was quickly promoted to be EA to the Chairman. This role took him to Brazil, Mexico, and the US for strategic projects across healthcare segments. Post Glenmark, Singh did another MBA from INSEAD, France; and graduated with an offer to join Boston Consulting Group in Brazil. However, the call for entrepreneurship brought him to Hyderabad where he co-founded StanPlus.
“There is a personal anxiety that I share with a lot of Indians. As I am settled in Hyderabad and my parents are in Chandigarh, there is a constant worry. StanPlus and Red Ambulances give us a sense of reliability, comfort and understanding that they can reach out for help anytime and get the required support in just a few minutes,” he says.
Poirson has been instrumental in getting the team together for StanPlus and is responsible for fund-raising, enterprise business, and investor relations. A French/American citizen, he is deeply passionate about the developing world and its problems. He refined his system-design thinking while working for Areva in uranium mines in Niger, a nuclear plant in Kazaksthan, and solar projects in India. He also understood the gaps in enterprise safety and emergency readiness through these experiences. A professional tragedy in India where an employee lost his life because of inadequate medical response convinced him to try to solve this problem.
Besides being the CTO at StanPlus, Leon, manages the finance and HR functions. Having grown up in San Jose, he moved to Taiwan on a full scholarship to study Computer Science at the Tsing Hua University. He joined McKinsey right after graduating and worked with the firm for four years as a Geospatial Tech Analyst. At the same time, he tried his hand at entrepreneurship with a public transport app, which he coded himself from ground-up. With a desire to round up his tech experience, Jose did an MBA from INSEAD and has been with StanPlus from its inception.
Getting reliable trained medical and non-medical ground staff is one of the major challenges that StanPlus faces during these times.
“While ensuring their safety at all times is our job, medical professionals have become a scare resource. The healthcare infrastructure in the country is still developing. It’s an ecosystem, and even when we do our best, not having the capacity at the other end of the spectrum paralyses our efforts at times. We’re focusing on having a Red Ambulance ready near you, but at the same time, there is a need for someone to keep that emergency ward, medicine supply and everything else in place. India has a long way to go in building its capacity in healthcare, but we’ll slowly get there, solving these big problems with the help of technology,” says Singh.
THE WAY AHEAD
StanPlus has set a target of having its own 3000 Red ambulances in 30 cities within three years. “We want to be able to get an ambulance to every patient within 10 minutes,” says Singh.
The startup is also looking at developing an integrated emergency response in the country. “We have SOS in our cars and smartwatches, but we should be able to get that required help on time. That’s the problem we want to solve,” he adds.
Singh feels there is an immense scope for innovation in solving tech-related problems, especially in this field. “We have seen considerable growth in edtech and fintech in recent years, but the pandemic has highlighted the importance and need for healthtech in every sphere of the healthcare ecosystem. With the current situation in our country where we have no beds available for emergency patients, no medicines and countless such problems, we need to realise and act on the urgency of growth and improvement in the healthcare sector. I see a lot of potential surrounding this idea,” he adds.