Healthlancing with Dr. Sugandh Mittal

Tracing a passionate dentist's journey from embracing entrepreneurship to securing a revolutionary patent and beyond!
Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS Pedodontics
Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS Pedodontics

Welcome to another Docscopy session. Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta of MedBound Times had the opportunity to have an exciting conversation with Dr. Sugandh Mittal.

Dr. Sugandh Mittal is a Pedodontist currently based in Bengaluru. She is the founder and CEO of She completed her Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Sharavathi Dental College and Hospital, Shimoga, India, from 2002 to 2008, and her MDS in Pedodontics from Vokkaligara Sangha Dental College, Bengaluru, from 2011 to 2014. She has also completed other courses in Conscious Sedation, Facial Aesthetics, Dental Aesthetics, Orthodontics, and ABLS.

While our nation's economy is picking up, the medical field seems to lag behind in terms of salary growth compared to other professions. This situation has fueled my passion to be a part of a movement that addresses these disparities. - Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS Pedodontics
While our nation's economy is picking up, the medical field seems to lag behind in terms of salary growth compared to other professions. This situation has fueled my passion to be a part of a movement that addresses these disparities. - Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS PedodonticsUnsplash

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What are you currently doing?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: I’m a passionate Pediatric Dentist running two branches of Dr. Mittal’s Kids & Family Dental Care in Bengaluru apart from my new venture, Healthlancing.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What is the best part about your work?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: The aspect I find most fulfilling in my work is the opportunity to constantly expand my horizons and acquire knowledge. I am keen on exploring unfamiliar aspects and solving complex challenges brings me a great sense of accomplishment.

Startups, in particular, embody this essence of unraveling the unknown, making them an ideal environment for me.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What made you choose such an unconventional path as your profession?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: In recent times, the medical profession which was considered to be a white-collar job, seems to have lost its previous allure. Despite a monumental investment in terms of hard work and financial resources required to become a doctor, the returns in terms of available opportunities, job satisfaction, and pay scale have been grossly inadequate. While our nation's economy is picking up, the medical field seems to lag behind in terms of salary growth compared to other professions. This situation has fueled my passion to be a part of a movement that addresses these disparities. The statistics reveal a disheartening truth: employment prospects in the government sector are less than 2.7% for dentists as opposed to 27% for allopathic doctors, leaving a staggering 73–90% of medical professionals seeking self-employment opportunities. Feeling incapable or at the mercy of destiny is simply not an acceptable position to be in. It is high time that every medical professional takes a stand and works towards bringing about the change we desperately need. In the 21st century, with the power of technology at our disposal, we have the ability to achieve anything we set our minds upon.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: How did you come up with Healthlancing?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: Coming from a small town, I have had a multifaceted experience in the medical field, first-hand. As a patient, I witnessed the unavailability of specialists and the prevalence of unqualified treatment providers in rural areas. This inspired me to pursue medical education with the aim of potentially solving this issue. However, as a freshly graduated doctor, I encountered a scarcity of job opportunities. Once again, I believed that further specialization would be the answer, so I pursued advanced training in pedodontics. However, even as a specialist, I faced challenges in finding suitable consultations and receiving fair and timely compensation. Additionally, as a clinician, I encountered difficulties in reaching out to specialists and hiring other doctors. These experiences made me realize that there is a significant gap that needs to be addressed in the medical employment sector. After more than a decade of working in this field, I felt a strong determination to find a solution, which led to the birth of

KuchToh Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is the Company registered name while is the brand name. - Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS Pedodontics
KuchToh Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is the Company registered name while is the brand name. - Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS PedodonticsHealthlancing official website

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: Tell us more about ‘KuchToh Technologies’?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: KuchToh Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is the Company registered name while is the brand name.

At Healthlancing, we take pride in our cutting-edge platform that utilizes Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to address two major healthcare challenges in India: limited access to healthcare infrastructure and a scarcity of doctors. Unlike other professions, the healthcare industry in India is predominantly private and highly unorganized, resulting in an increased ratio of self-employment versus traditional employment. On-call consultations and case-based treatments are more prevalent than full-time positions in a single location. Additionally, there is a lack of medical infrastructure co-sharing, despite the expensive and complex nature of managing healthcare facilities.

Through the power of technology, our platform connects clinics and hospitals with specific requirements for doctors available in localities, considering their experience and expected fees. Whether it is for full-time employment or the need for health lancers/consultants for specific cases, we facilitate efficient matches using our platform.

Highlight of the journey!
So far, we have two intellectual properties to our credit - a Patent Grant and a Trademark. - Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS Pedodontics

The Healthlancing website currently offers seven services:

a) Healthlancer booking: A case-based service that allows users to book doctors for specific cases.

b) Clinic booking: Provides infrastructure sharing in the healthcare sector. Users can book hospital operating theatres (OT) or utilize clinic spaces.

c) Intern booking: Enables the booking of interns for medical training purposes.

d) General hiring: Offers a platform for general healthcare hiring needs.

e) Job Board: Aggregates everyday job postings from various WhatsApp groups and social media pages, while also allowing healthcare employers to directly post job requirements.

f) Highlights: A premium service designed for active job seekers and employers with active job requirements.

g) Manage Appointments: A specially developed feature from the perspective of consultants, allowing them to efficiently manage their appointments across multiple locations.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What is your vision for the future with respect to both?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: We have three key visions at Healthlancing:

a) Enable doctors to reach their full potential, providing an adequate number of work opportunities for young talent, reducing depression and suicide rates, and improving the pay scale.

b) Enable people to access specialist treatment even in remote locations. Existing patient-to-doctor platforms have primarily focused on metropolitan areas and faced challenges in reaching rural areas due to illiteracy and the limited use of technology. Healthlancing, being a doctor-to-doctor platform, eliminates this discrepancy as the users on both sides are doctors.

c) Facilitate easier medical practice for women through the use of digital stamping. Currently, female doctors face difficulties in finding jobs or consultations after completing their postgraduate or undergraduate studies. The process involves visiting multiple clinics/hospitals with their curriculum vitae and relying on friend referrals or word-of-mouth recommendations. This process is time-consuming and can take 1-2 years. Additionally, relocating to a different city or within the same city disrupts their professional network. This particularly affects women, as evidenced by data statistics that show only 34% of women doctors are actively practicing in their respective fields.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: Any interesting projects you’re working on recently?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: We are currently working on developing more advanced features for our "Manage Appointments" tool, which is designed specifically from the perspective of consultants but can also be utilized by clinics. Consultants and healthlancers frequently visit multiple clinics and hospitals, each with a varying number of cases. It becomes challenging to manage appointments while considering the travel distance and time required between locations. Additionally, keeping track of payments and completed procedural steps can also be difficult. Our software aims to address all these requirements, providing a comprehensive solution for efficient appointment management.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What are the challenges you face in your day-to-day professional scenario?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: It is heartbreaking for me when a valuable employee decides to leave, as we often form personal connections with them in our professional environment. The greater the number of employees, the higher the likelihood of turnover, leading to frequent hiring needs. Managing this entire process is quite challenging. Recently, I have gained a newfound appreciation for the HR department as they carry out the herculean task with a smile. They identify individuals with a strong work ethic and a growth mindset, who can align well with the company culture.

Recently, I have gained a newfound appreciation for the HR department as they carry out the herculean task with a smile. They identify individuals with a strong work ethic and a growth mindset, who can align well with the company culture. - Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS Pedodontics
Recently, I have gained a newfound appreciation for the HR department as they carry out the herculean task with a smile. They identify individuals with a strong work ethic and a growth mindset, who can align well with the company culture. - Dr. Sugandh Mittal, BDS, MDS PedodonticsUnsplash

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What do you feel about the healthcare system?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: India ranks 154th out of 195 countries in the Global Healthcare Index, indicating poor access and quality measures. The distribution of doctors is heavily concentrated in cities, where only 30% of the population resides, while around 70% of India's registered doctors serve the urban minority. In contrast, around 70% of the population lives in villages, resulting in limited access to healthcare with a doctor-to-patient ratio of 1:25,00,000. This discrepancy can be attributed to the disproportionate distribution of healthcare resources, including infrastructure and human resources.

Similarly, the healthcare infrastructure also suffers from imbalances. While scarcity is observed in certain areas, inefficiencies prevail in other regions. The bed turnover ratio is a mere 40-50%, and many medical setups shut down each year due to high operational costs. It is important to note that this issue is not solely a deficiency but a result of disproportionate distribution.

To shed light on these problems, we conducted an ongoing survey on our website, which has received responses from numerous doctors and dentists across the nation. We encourage everyone to participate in the survey, as a larger sample size will help bring attention to these issues.

Regarding finding consultation work, the survey results indicate that 78% of consultants rely on word-of-mouth referrals from friends, while other common approaches include directly approaching local clinics and hospitals (44% through social media and 20% through WhatsApp). Clinicians, on the other hand, primarily rely on WhatsApp (75%) to find consultants or healthlancers. It's worth noting that clinicians tend to be in similar age groups with similar friend circles, whereas consultants belong to different age groups and social circles. This difference in networking opportunities may lead to a higher depletion rate and difficulty finding suitable candidates for consultants.

Although platforms like Naukri and Indeed exist, they are primarily useful for bulk hiring in the IT sector and may not adequately address the needs of small clinics and smaller healthcare needs. Additionally, medical and dental requirements often have a short window to be filled, making the traditional resume-shortlist-interview-select process impractical. Swift action is crucial in healthcare, as delays can have serious consequences for patients.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: In your opinion, how can the current system be made better?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: Improving career satisfaction can have a positive impact on productivity and help address global discrepancies regarding the medical workforce. It can also reduce the significant brain drain of doctors moving abroad, which is a loss for our nation. To achieve this, ongoing monitoring and improvisation of working patterns and job satisfaction among practitioners is essential. Additionally, proper geographical distribution should be regulated to promote greater equity in access to healthcare.

Dental and medical workforce planning commonly utilizes various methods, including doctor-population ratios and demand-based models. The WHO-suggested Doctor-Population Ratio (DPR) is a widely used traditional measure that helps identify shortages or surpluses by comparing the calculated value with the ideal ratio. However, this approach is often based on assumptions and is primarily used to project future trends in healthcare workforce availability.

Access to healthcare is a multifaceted concept, and it is important to align supply with need-based demand. Demand-based models, which utilize epidemiological data to assess disease burden, offer a more realistic approach to addressing healthcare access concerns.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What are your views regarding the impact of COVID? What challenges have you faced specifically during COVID?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: During the Covid-19 outbreak, we were able to help find doctors for government Covid centers in Bangalore, tackling the extreme shortage of medical staff in Covid wards. We also collaborated with the Karnataka State Dental Council and the National Medicos Organization and conducted awareness webinars for Doctors.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: Did you always dream of becoming a doctor?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: I come from a conventional background where female education was just a matter of degree required to be married, in fact I was a very average student at school. I loved reading anything except course syllabus books, but becoming a Doctor was destiny I think. 

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What are your other fields of interest? 

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: I love to practice Pediatric dentistry. I have a special interest in human psychology and communication. I have also developed a strong appetite for other books.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What is your best memory?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal:

Clinically, my patient's mother said, "Doctor, now my child has started gaining weight, which was not possible before, and I didn't know dental health can have such an impact. You have made the entire process so easy and painless. We were scared of the pain our child would have to endure.

Healthlancing: We cherish the smallest of achievements. We danced on the first self-online booking. We loved to hear a lady doctor who resumed practice after a 12-year break says, I thought it was not possible and no one would give me work because of the gap. Healthlancing made it possible.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: A professional achievement that you’re proud of?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: I have received patents and a few awards, yet the freedom to do what I want to do is the highest accomplishment.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: Tell us about your patent, and your journey.

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: It was an incredibly interesting experience, a significant milestone in our innovation journey as we were granted a patent! This is our contribution from India for the world to benefit from, and I was in disbelief when I received the news.

Initially, when our patent application was declined, I regretted my decision. The legal language involved in patents is complex, and for the first time, I realized that translating thoughts onto paper can have communication gaps. We sought opinions from various patent attorneys, but none of them offered any hope. We couldn't find a similar reference case, especially since most software patents are registered abroad.

Here's what I learned through this process:

We only have two hearings, and it becomes highly challenging to reverse a decision after the second dismissal.

In India, patents are not granted for ideas, business models, or software. Only products and processes can be patented. Understanding this helped me identify what wouldn't work. However, I didn't give up, and our attorney team at IP Flair supported us satisfactorily. Special thanks to Ms.Jinsu for her patience in dealing with my impatience and for reminding me of the importance of maintaining decorum during the proceedings.

Why was this patent so important to us? Firstly, there is a tremendous need for specialist doctors in rural India (something I desired for my parents). Secondly, doctors need more work opportunities and better earnings. I believe has the potential to address healthcare issues in our nation, including accessibility, quality, ethics, and cost, while breaking location barriers.

After extensive reading and research, I decided to present our case myself, which was both terrifying and exciting. I had conflicting thoughts in my mind, but I remembered an iconic scene from the Bollywood movie "Guru" where the protagonist, despite having doubts, successfully negotiated an important deal. I had a similar feeling as I prepared to present our case to the Controller of India IPO. Even if things didn't go perfectly, it would be a memorable experience for the rest of my life.

To my astonishment, the judge demonstrated a deep understanding of our subject matter. He listened patiently before posing challenging questions. Fortunately, I answered them well. He expressed that reconsidering his decision would be a first in his career if he found our idea novel. This aspect of his character was commendable, and it reinforced my love for our country. I appreciate the efforts and support provided by our government in promoting innovation and startups.

Conventionally, government officials are depicted negatively in movies, but I was pleasantly surprised by the controller's professionalism and punctuality. We were fortunate to encounter an excellent controller who displayed none of the negative characteristics often portrayed in films.

Despite facing countless challenges and failures along the way, days like these make everything worthwhile. It was a monumental moment, and I felt blessed. I look forward to the future in making a greater contribution and ensuring that doctors have the best opportunities possible while helping patients in even the remotest corners access the finest healthcare providers.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What are your hobbies?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: Sketching, traveling, reading, and writing

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: How many languages do you speak?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: Hindi, English, Kannada

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What advice would you give to budding doctors?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: Healthcare systems around the world are facing significant challenges. By advocating for healthcare reform, budding doctors can help improve access to care, reduce healthcare costs, and improve overall health outcomes for all members of society. They can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Technology can make a huge difference, adapt to change, and accept and promote the use of technology.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: How can budding doctors contribute to society? Or to improve healthcare services?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: I would say start using

It's a help to yourself as well as to society.

This Innovation targets the Health of the Nation with its direct impact on Medical Professionals serving the 1.3 billion Population of India by improving reachability, Access to healthcare providers and also by reducing the overall infrastructure cost, sharing of equipments, etc. It creates huge employment and improves the lives of people.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: What are your plans for the future?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: Make Healthlancing every doctor's biggest help in terms of employment, while serving the entire nation’s population including rural India.

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: If your life was a movie it would be called?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: Explore

Dr. Ruchi Rathi Gupta: A quote you may relate to?

Dr. Sugandh Mittal: I'm not born to play a safe game. I'll die someday yet before that I'll live every day.

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