The mental health space, unlike other domains in healthcare, requires more nuanced matchmaking between care seekers and caregivers for sustained success. Anmol Arora, the Haryana-based founder of DocVita, has figured out the secret formula.
Incubated in Y Combinator, DocVita is a digital platform that connects individuals to the right therapists and psychiatrists. With 110 dedicated mental health professionals on their platform, DocVita has assisted over 15,000 individuals, couples, and families since its founding in 2020.
Starting as a general healthcare startup and pivoting to mental health, DocVita is seeing a 30-40% month-on-month growth since 2022 and a 5x growth projection for 2024. It is safe to say that DocVita is India’s fastest-growing, cashflow-positive mental health startup.
In a conversation with ProdWrks, Anmol discusses his strategic pivots and walks us through the challenges and triumphs along the way. As an added bonus, he gives us insights into his matchmaking strategy connecting therapists to care seekers, which made DocVita one of the largest mental health platforms in the country.
Solving the Broken Hospital Experience with Chota Hospitals
DocVita did not begin as a mental health company at the onset. Anmol’s journey into the healthcare and wellness space started in 2016 with Chota Hospitals – a technology services company solving problems in small healthcare facilities.
The problems Anmol identified included long waiting times in clinics, appointment delays and cancellations, or anything that may have gone wrong in the patient journey which can potentially lead to a challenging interaction between patients and doctors. Solving these problems with technology gave Anmol crucial insights into the healthcare landscape and understand the hopes, dreams, and fears of care seekers and caregivers.
By 2019-20, Chota Hospitals had expanded its portfolio with solutions for appointment bookings, queue management, e-prescription, electronic medical records, telemedicine, and more. It evolved into a comprehensive patient relationship management system and finally DocVita.
The Pivot to Mental Health
Initially DocVita was not focussed on mental health and allowed patients to find any doctor. The platform facilitated online appointment bookings for patients with dermatologists, general physicians, gynaecologists, etc. A significant shift occurred in 2021 when the decision was made to pivot from general healthcare to mental health.
The shift was not only strategic but deeply personal when Anmol faced a personal challenge and needed therapy. He embarked on the daunting task of finding a suitable therapist for his well-being. The experience highlighted the significant gaps in the mental health space.
Triggered by this personal incident, Anmol decided to expand the psychology vertical of DocVita by onboarding highly qualified, pre-vetted therapists. DocVita had a 30-40% surge in platform growth, month-on-month, driven by the unique characteristics of mental health care, particularly the frequency of client interactions compared to traditional healthcare.
Spurred by the rising demand and potential of the platform, DocVita scaled from having 15 therapists to 90 therapists in a span of two months in 2022. It also led to the thesis that users would return for ongoing mental health support if DocVita curated a network of highly qualified and verified therapists, providing top-notch care on a digital platform.
Perfecting the matchmaking process
Anmol started manually matching the initial 500-600 patients to their therapists before they went on to write a matchmaking algorithm. User interviews with clients who had successfully connected with therapists revealed factors that users valued beyond cost – language, cultural understanding, and therapist characteristics played pivotal roles in their choices.
However the most interesting user insight dismissed a wide-held misconception in the therapy field that people chose therapists based on cost.
The Results of Successful Matchmaking
This strategic shift culminated in DocVita turning cash flow positive last year, a testament to the efficacy of aligning pricing with user expectations. The platform has also reached a milestone of connecting 15,000 clients with the right therapists.
AI with a Human Touch
Though DocVita today has a 21 point questionnaire which feeds into an algorithm for automatic matchmaking, Anmol still believes in the impact of a human touch in the matchmaking process, especially in a sensitive field like mental health.
Anmol feels a mix of both human and AI intervention would work really well, to ask the right right questions to the patients and match them with the right therapist.
Why Apps are Not Always a Panacea
Anmol believes that not every aspect of the healthcare business necessitates an app.
By just focussing on WhatsApp as a medium for their treatment pathways, DocVita has made it incredibly easy for people of all ages to reach out and use their services. The platform extends a comforting sense of safety and familiarity, as all online appointments are conducted over trusted platforms like Google Meet or Zoom, facilitated by timely reminders on Whatsapp.
The Future of DocVita
As DocVita consolidates its position as one of India’s largest mental health platforms, Anmol outlines his plans for 2024 with a focus on quality, infrastructure, and an ambitious 5x growth target by scaling beyond 20,000 users and 500+ therapist.
Anmol also wants to scale his digital services and is running AI experiments on an updated app which could supplement their existing patient journey on WhatApp.