Modernizing and Democratizing Health Services
Dr Petros Pandis – an entrepreneur, with an PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College London and extensive experience in digital innovation – has pioneered creative, customer-focused digital solutions for all-round business benefits. As the founder and CEO of Docandu, an innovative digital health platform, Petros is at the helm of affairs at the start up. In an interview, he speaks on array of topics ranging from the idea behind founding of Docandu to how the latest pandemic has changed the health industry, from challenges posed to what entrepreneurs should do to carve a niche for themselves. Excerpts from the interview:
The Story Behind
Docandu has been touted as a revolutionary digital health company that combines high-quality traditional medicine with the most modern, and at the same time ushering in user-friendly digital innovations. Docandu is like ‘a personal healthcare assistant’. It gives the user instant medical advice for their symptoms through AI technology, as well as guidance for the next steps. It simplifies the patient-doctor interaction, by connecting the user to either a Docandu GP or by offering a wider selection of private doctors (marketplace). Finally, it offers a convenient virtual space for medical records storage with easy access and sharing capabilities. Based in London and Athens, the company envisages a democratized and modernized health service that all citizens can have access to – anytime and anywhere in the world. “Our Docandu app is a fully-integrated digital health platform that connects patients to medical advice, healthcare data, and doctors anytime, anywhere. The uniqueness in Docandu’s platform is the ability to break the international boundaries and connect patients with their preferred healthcare provider, anywhere they are and, in their preferred language, – including sharing of translated medical records.”
Healthcare Technology Innovation
“The healthcare sector is subject to the most prominent transformation on a global scale” opines Petros. He however cites a contradictory situation here since the healthcare industry is always using cutting edge technologies and the regulators tend to be old-fashioned and follow rigid processes. “Overall, the healthcare system can be described by a shortage of staff, outdated medical equipment, huge waiting lists and dated infrastructure, especially in the public sector. Long-lasting problems have been aggravated by the recent economic crisis.” Paper-based systems that lead to inevitable delays in reaching frontline clinicians with relevant clinical information, is yet another problem in the healthcare industry, rues Petros. Electronic medical records (EMRs) paired with mobile devices and apps, make it possible for medicos to quickly access test results at the bedside. A more accurate take on patient symptoms is possible with EMR and AI-symptom checkers, which frees caregivers from the burden of data collection and allows them to be the one that interprets the data and counsels the patient directly. “Having the ability to access medical data we believe is very important for patients.”
“Among the challenges that we face in the healthcare tech landscape is the lack of standardization. We have ample data but too many interfaces and systems to simplify and truly democratize digitization” explains Petros. From Appointment Management Systems, to Patient Administration Systems and Laboratory Information Management Systems, to government portal and medical records management, the list goes on and on, adds the professional. “Healthcare companies are affected by regulatory challenges that raises the cost of services and can make it hard for new entrants.”
“Considering the challenge in regards to the fast change of both hardware and software, healthcare leaders and clinicians need to establish closer links with medical manufacturers and software development companies to harness the potential of healthcare technology to transform the health systems and create a connected healthcare environment. They can collaborate on developing new business models and scenarios to improve the uptake of new healthcare technology.”
Memorable Moment of Success
In fact, 2020 represents probably the most recent memorable moment that built Docandu’s brand name and reputation and helped 50,000 citizens in Greece against the pandemic. “It’s AI-based product, developed to check COVID19 symptoms and asses individual risk ‘COVID19 Checker’ has been touted as one of the first solutions in Europe that was approved and made available by the Greek authorities. Since then, Docandu has been recognized and awarded as one of the key innovative solutions against the pandemic of COVID-19 from the Ministry of Digital Governance, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Development and Investments. Also, Docandu has been placed on the top 3 Medical App in Google Play Store, received sponsorship from Microsoft, awarded from the National Bank of Greece as one of the most innovative companies in 2021 and been listed in the 100s Game Changers Companies in 2020 in Greece from Startupper.
A Piece of Advice
Health care is an industry that is rapidly growing, so up and coming entrepreneurs will have plenty of opportunities. The industry is challenging, rigid and heavily regulated, however, the rewards will be significant if you succeed. Innovative solutions from health start-ups could become a major player contributing to industry value. There is also the aspect of impacting human lives and contribute to changing health care for good, signs off Petros.
Albert Health: A holistic approach for chronic diseases
Recai Serdar Gemici, CEO Albert Health
About Recai Serdar Gemici
Albert Health: A holistic approach for chronic diseases
Serdar is the CEO of Albert Health, a voice-based health assistant that enables people to manage their chronic diseases. The company intends to design disease-specific experience and help pharma companies to increase medication adherence in their therapeutic areas. In an interview, Serdar speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:
Founding of Albert Health
Says Serdar that chronic diseases are, in fact, a part of all our lives, even if we don’t experience them firsthand. These diseases are health problems that affect individuals throughout their entire lives and require careful attention and care. According to the World Health Organization, chronic diseases are responsible for an average of 86% of deaths and 77% of health expenses. Effective tracking, treatment, and management of chronic diseases help slow down their progression. “Our specific focus is on treatment adherence in chronic diseases. Treatment adherence maximizes treatment effectiveness, while non-adherence is the leading cause of poor treatment outcomes. 50% of individuals with chronic diseases do not adhere to their treatment plans, resulting in the death of 200,000 people annually in Europe alone.” Albert Health assists patients in understanding their chronic disease and help them embrace the treatment adherence required by that chronic condition.
Post Covid-19 – Challenges galore in healthcare
In the post-pandemic era, healthcare providers should prioritize a holistic approach that combines technological advancements with personalized patient care to create a more resilient and efficient healthcare ecosystem, suggests Serdar. However, he adds that one of the key challenges is to ensure effective population health management. “Healthcare providers need to shift their focus beyond treating illnesses to proactively manage the health of both sick and healthy individuals. This involves allocating more resources to preventive medicine, early intervention, and lifestyle management. Additionally, technology adoption remains a critical factor in realizing the full benefits of healthcare innovations.” It is essential for healthcare providers to facilitate the seamless integration of technology into clinical workflows and patient experiences. This can be achieved by identifying the most convenient use cases for both doctors and patients and employing user-friendly interfaces, such as voice technology, to enhance engagement and usability.
Albert Health’s platform for digital natives- Features
Albert is an evidence-based, multi-chronic disease management platform that leverages AI. With Albert, patients of all ages can easily manage their treatments, granting access to personalized treatment management for users from all socio-economic backgrounds, and helping improve their quality of life by acting as a mediator for lifestyle changes.
The platform offers personalized chronic disease management programs for various chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma, hypertension, MS, HIV, and cancer. Patients can receive online consultations from healthcare professionals through Albert. They can set medication reminders, access medication prospectuses, and receive alerts about medication interactions. They can also set reminders for tasks like drinking water and measurements. Patients can store their health documents and measurements in one place, effectively track their treatment progress and health status, and share health data with their loved ones and healthcare professionals.
Offering a voice platform that patients can consult anytime, anywhere, Albert’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, users can verbally ask questions on their minds. Through disease-specific trained language models, Albert understands users’ needs based on their conditions and provides them with the most suitable answers. The entire Albert platform is developed to easily adapt and be configured to meet different disease needs” adds Serdar.
Curiosity, according to Serdar is one of the driving forces in the entrepreneurship journey. “I also think the traits of order and discipline are must-haves in entrepreneurship. Additionally, the perseverance instilled by discipline encourages both my personal growth and Albert Health’s achievements.
Lessons learnt from the healthcare sector
“From my journey in the healthcare sector, I’ve learned the invaluable importance of being patient centric. This principle underscores the fact that the goal of any healthcare endeavour should be improving the lives of the patients we serve. Alongside this, another critical point is to always consider the health economics aspect.”
Albert Health – The future ahead
Albert aims to reach more patients suffering from chronic diseases and help them with most reliable and scientifically backed support. We have dedicated ourselves to becoming an essential part of the lives of patients with chronic diseases.”
Since the future of digital health is evidence-based, the firm aims to prove the benefits they provide to patients and health economics through clinical studies. “In this direction, we have committed ourselves to become a global digital health company that offers evidence-based digital therapeutic solutions, that have proven clinical value and economic benefits, and are prescription and reimbursable. Digital Therapeutics (DTx) are evidence-based digital solutions that can prevent, treat, or manage diseases, either alongside traditional treatment methods or as substitutes. We aim for our DTx solutions to be prescribed and reimbursed, just like medication. In addition, we want to support our patients not only digitally but also physically. In the long run, we aspire to open our own clinics to enhance the delivery of healthcare services even more. By collaborating with expert healthcare professionals in our clinics, we aim to provide more comprehensive health services and directly and effectively respond to the needs of our users.
Bold Health: Creating holistic gut care
Elena Mustatea, Co-founder & CEO, Bold Health
About Elena Mustatea
Bold Health: Creating holistic gut care
Elena Mustatea is the Co-founder and CEO of Bold Health, a digital health company helping individuals improve their digestive health with holistic gut care. Elena received the 21st Century Icon Technology Innovator award and was named in the Forbes’ Europe 30 Under 30 List, while her company Bold Health has been recognised for digital health innovation in numerous industry awards. Previously Elena worked in venture capital as investor with leading European VC fund Atomico, in investment banking at J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, in management consulting at Oliver Wyman, and ran a media business in university. She also started a political activism group to represent the tech industry voice during Brexit called TechTogether UK, and represented her birth country in Children’s Parliament of the World. Elena is a Romanian native and received her Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA.
In an interview, she speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:
Conception of Bold Health
Elena explains that when she started Bold Health, she was coming out of her own health journey of healing her gut and her relationship with food. “After suffering an intestinal infection and as a result of poor lifestyle choices such as stressful job, poor sleep, drinking alcohol and eating too much raw food, I suffered long term digestive issues such as abdominal pain, food sensitivities, bloating and fatigue.” She added that she was quick enough to recognise the benefits and the need for holistic, root-cause medicine that brings together Western science with traditional approaches like food and plant medicine, nervous system regulation and human support in the form of specialist experts. “We brought all these together in an online platform, conveniently accessible and adapted to the needs of the modern individual who is empowered to have agency over their health. We wanted individuals to feel bold and empowered about their health, supported and hopeful!
With Bold, patients feel in expert hands, validated and understood in their health journey, supported with leading edge science-based solutions they can trust from a team of medical professionals, to solve not just their digestive health, but boost their mood and overall wellbeing.”
Healthcare industry- challenges galore
Says this healthcare professional that in the post pandemic world, health workers face ever increasing patient demand, burdensome regulation and administrative tasks. “The opportunity is to deliver virtual-first, stepped care that triages patients into the right service (which is not always seeing a human, but could be going through a digital program), using data at every step of the care journey, automatising steps wherever possible, and making things easier for the provider by for example using AI to write the charts.” She noted that our providers have to freedom to work from where and when they want to, can spend sufficient time with the patient, and leverage content and tracking in between visits to maximize self-management and treatment impact outside the provider visit.
Key features of Bold Health’s comprehensive platform
Bold Health’s comprehensive platform offers a set of self-help tools, patient education, psychobehavioral techniques, relaxation and lifestyle change, and where necessary medication and supplements, to support patients in healing their gut for good. “Depending on the symptoms and condition, we also offer the services of a team of clinicians specialized in treating gut health such as doctors or specialist nurses, registered dietitians, health coaches or therapists, who can support patients with the different aspects of holistic care. By bringing together different disciplines and types of therapies, the patient can get the combined benefit to transform their digestive health.”
Bold Health has become a global leader in digestive health in a few short years due to a unique combination of daring to think differently about the patient care experience, while staying loyal to medical evidence. “I am focused on service and solving human problems from a place of integrity and care. I also love technology’s ability to make healthcare data-informed, accessible, convenient, so I like to bring in the value of innovation and human-centered design.”
A word of advice for entrepreneurs
Elena urges startups to not go into regulated spaces, unless you have very strong, unique, defendable IP and solid financial backing. Do a business where there is a clear existing business model and you know for sure someone will pay for your product or service. Develop health economics / ROI evidence early.
Bold Health- The way ahead
We will be expanding our multi-disciplinary, stepped care model across other chronic conditions outside GI, to be able to treat the whole person including when there are multiple co-occurring illnesses that will all benefit from lifestyle improvement, nervous system regulation, dietary improvements and expert medical advice.
DocHQ: Empowering healthcare through technology
Madhur Srivastava, Founder, CEO- DocHQ
About Madhur Srivastava
DocHQ: Empowering healthcare through technology
DocHQ is an UK employee benefits provider, that helps people make informed health choices and inspire them to improve their quality of life. The health service provider is a specialist medical technology provider aimed at enhancing employee wellbeing at work and home – connecting businesses, providers, and consumers through technology. From employee health and wellness programs to physical wellness in the workplace and at home, DocHQ combines medical expertise and technology to offer wellbeing services and solutions in a post-pandemic world.
Founding of DocHQ
In 2018, tech professional Madhur Srivastava embarked on a journey to revolutionise the approach to employee benefits, insurance, and healthcare through the lens of technology. This led to the birth of DocHQ, a platform initially designed as a user-friendly telehealth service, before expanding its reach to include unique offerings such as travel healthcare for those journeying abroad.
“In the healthcare market, we recognised a pressing need for integrated, scalable solutions that facilitate better patient-provider communication. DocHQ emerged as a response to bridge these gaps and offer a comprehensive healthcare solution designed especially for the digital age” observes Madhur.
Healthcare industry- challenges galore
The pandemic accelerated the digital shift, but it also highlighted the importance of data security, a human and personal touch in digital environments, and the need to constantly validate the accuracy of tech solutions, especially in healthcare, opines. “Providers must prioritise these aspects to maintain trust and deliver efficient care in the post-pandemic era.”
DocHQ’s comprehensive platform – Features
Central to DocHQ’s offerings is ‘DocHQ Physio’, an AI-driven platform tailored for today’s digital landscape. This platform provides comprehensive patient assessments, both physically and online, leading to personalised exercise prescriptions, explains Madhur. “As patients engage with their rehab exercises via our platform, the AI-movement tracking technology delivers visual and audio real-time feedback, optimising their movements for therapeutic benefit. Behind the scenes, the system gathers vital data, offering physiotherapists a rich tapestry of insights to monitor and guide a patient’s progression.” A standout feature is its asynchronous progress tracking, where physiotherapists can adjust exercise regimens based on the collected data, ensuring a continually optimised recovery journey. With DocHQ Physio, the practitioners have melded the precision of AI with the indispensable human touch of physiotherapy, ensuring comprehensive, effective and dynamic care tailored for the digital native.
Madhur believes in collaborative leadership, listening to his team, valuing feedback, and fostering a culture of innovation. He feels that all these have played a part in the trajectory of both his personal journey and that of DocHQ. “I’d add that I’m curious and ever adaptive. The healthcare landscape is ever evolving, and staying curious allows me to anticipate changes and adapt swiftly.”
Word of caution for healthcare entrepreneurs
“First and foremost, always keep the customer at the centre of everything you do. In the race to innovate, it’s easy to get swept up in the allure of new technologies and cutting-edge solutions. However, as a CEO, I’ve seen first-hand that the most enduring and impactful solutions are those that directly enhance customer care and experience.” Also, while agility is a strength in the start-up world, in healthcare it’s vital to balance it with thoroughness and caution. Due diligence, customer safety and regulatory compliance are not just boxes to tick, but are foundational to building trust and longevity in this sector. Stay customer centric. Technology and innovation are essential, but they should always serve the primary goal of enhancing customer care and experience.
One principle stands out unequivocally: healthcare is fundamentally about people. Whether we’re discussing patients, their families, or the professionals serving them, every decision we make, every innovation we introduce, and every change we implement should have the wellbeing and betterment of individuals as its guiding star.
DocHQ – Forging ahead
At the forefront of the firm’s innovation pipeline is the integration of behavioural science into the DocHQ Physio AI system. “We believe that the most effective healthcare is holistic, addressing not just the physical but also the emotional and psychological aspects of wellbeing. We’re exploring how subtle behavioural cues, discerned from voice and visual data, can provide insights into a customer’s mental state.” This has enabled them to send targeted nudges to users, not just improving the information they receive but potentially influencing positive health outcomes. Imagine a system that, beyond diagnosing physical ailments, can also sense distress or anxiety and respond empathetically. “By bridging the realms of AI, behavioural science and healthcare, we’re taking a leap towards a future where digital health solutions truly understand and cater to the multifaceted nature of human health.”