DialDent makes mobile dentistry a reality

By Anusha Ashwin

Increased smartphone and tablet uptake with usage of data is enabling technology to reach places never accessed before. This technology evolution has thrown open a sea of opportunities for startups who wish to explore the mobile healthcare, especially in the preventive healthcare sector.

DialDent is one such mobile healthcare service that concentrates on providing dental care at the convenience of being at home or office. DialDent is a venture from Greystone Care, a company that has laid its big bet on preventive health care and that which works by taking healthcare to people rather than making people reach out for it.

Greystone Care’s Dialdent — led by Vinod Giri, Arjun Dosa, and Rajesh Relan — strongly believes that the most efficient way to good dental health is through regular check-ups and timely prevention. Vinod Giri, the co-Director of Greystone, introduces DialDent and explains the concept, the working, and future of his venture to Voice&Data.

“Greystone believes that growth of healthcare in India is restrained by its inability or reluctance to proactively reach out to people and build a preventive care system. The company therefore focusses on creating medical care capabilities which are highly mobile and can be taken to people instead of making people come to them, and are backed by an IT platform which makes customer interface smooth, targeted and trackable. Most of us are reluctant to pay a visit to the doctor for a general examination because of the hassles involved in finding right clinics, booking appointments, travel & parking problems. As a result, we go to a doctor only when there is something terribly wrong, like a pain or hurt. Greystone has removed such hassles from people’s lives by using state-of-the-art technology to develop portable clinics that can be loaded on vans, unpacked and installed anywhere in a matter of minutes. That allows us to set up a clinic at home, at office, or anywhere else. All we need is a dedicated corner or a room, and the individual’s attention,” says Giri while explaining the concept behind DialDent.

The mobile unit

Giri’s thought on forming DialDent started off with an opportunity that he perceived in preventive dental care. Interactions with dental specialists made him realize that dental care was primarily clinic-based operation, waiting for patients to come to them when in desperate need for a cure. This, he believes, has restricted dental care ecosystem to a problem-solving mode.

Giri explains saying, “To unlock true potential of dental care, one must encourage prevention – make access to dentist easy and get people to discover the state of their dental health. DialDent intends to reach out to potential patients in their own comfort zones and bring them into the dental care ecosystem. It is a unique venture providing on-site dental care at offices, homes and pretty much anywhere.”

Giri and his team have made this possible by use of special portable clinics that fit into just 2-3 bags and can be set up anywhere in just 15-20 minutes. These clinics can do most dental procedures on-site including x-rays, fillings, extraction, root canal, etc. The company has large number of doctors and paramedics working full time for it.

But where does internet and mobile technology play a role here? DialDent believes in the value of patient data. Giri says that the company has built its own booking, billing and data mining technology platform, which makes customer interface easy and monitorable.

DialDent uses tablets to capture patient data, diagnosis data and procedures data. It also captures and executes billing data. Data is transmitted then to the backend-server, which on one hand uses billing data to send e-bills, and on the other hand stores and cross tabs diagnosis and procedure data for further action. The company also has a chain of clinics, owned as well as tied-up, spread all over Delhi-NCR, which serve as a backup for high surgical requirements.

“Our first clinic was rolled out in the first week of September 2015. People historically associate dental procedures with large, heavy, fixed chairs and machines. It therefore may sometimes need a first-hand experience to overcome the disbelief that dental treatments can be done in offices and through portable systems. Once they witness how easy it is to get their dental health in order, they lap the idea. The response from the company was very good and many, including senior management, made use of the diagnosis and treatments,” confidently expresses Giri.

Many wins

In little over a year of its existence, Dialdent has done over 10,000 diagnosis and over 2,000 on-site procedures on patients either through special camps for corporates in their offices or at homes of people. The company has worked with nearly 300 corporate entities, a list which includes most leading blue chip organisations. DialDent commenced its operation from a base in Gurgaon in September 2015 catering to all of NCR. The company received its first external funding in March 2016. Post funding, DialDent added another base in Noida in May 2016.

Recognizing that some customers feel more comfortable in clinics for high surgical treatments, the company built its own clinic base in Gurgaon in April 2016 and in Noida in May 2016. It has now expanded the network to 8 clinics under DialDent umbrella in all parts of NCR. These work as back up for mobile dental operations. Today, the company has 15 doctors and 8 paramedic staff working for it. DialDent is partner with most leading health insurance providers, third party administrators, and leading home health care providers.

Onto multi-city expansion

After Delhi-NCR, the company is now ready to explore fresh markets like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and Pune. With this expansion plan, Giri believes that it will give the company an opportunity to leverage national products and services, alliances and partnerships.

In that phase, the company will also roll out value added products such as dental covers nationally. DialDent also intends to kick-off an exclusive dental e-commerce platform soon. This will be followed by a pan-India roll out to 18 cities. In three years’ time, DialDent aims to be the largest dental care provider in India with ability to do a million diagnostics and treatments in a year.

While all these plans unfold, DialDent is and will make its money from patient treatments, value-added dental products, and by leveraging DialDent platform and access to customers to cross-sell relevant third party products including a B2B platform for dental practioners.

Giri indicated that there are a few high networth individuals (HNIs) who have made angel investment in the company. A Swiss national and a Singapore national of Indian origin are financially backing DialDent, says Giri not disclosing their names.

As a part of the expansion plan, Giri has certainly not overlooked the rural healthcare market. “If dental care is underdeveloped in urban India, it is non-existent in rural India where the malady incidence is in fact higher due to poor care and eating habits. Besides building an operating model for rural markets, DialDent has also approached companies known for rural outreach programme to offer DialDent services as a part of their CSR activities,” says Giri.

Giri, as an early entrant in the private telemedicine sector, opines about the growing scope of his business. He says, “Considering the widening gap in coverage and rising cost of healthcare services in the country, telemedicine, which offers remote diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients via videoconferencing or Internet, has the potential to address the gap. Soon with increasing Internet/Smartphone penetration and lower data costs, telemedicine will disrupt the status quo of Indian healthcare system.”

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