Posted on July 7, 2020

How We Built a Medical Tourism Startup?

How was the process of creation of MedicalTourism.Review?

Many startupers in time forget how they were beginning, and are sure that they knew it all from the beginning, I mean the biggest question of every startup and the biggest answer, but is not true. Anyone who begins a new startup starts with a match in the darkness which blows off, often and rarely lights back, this is why most of us start blinded following a whisper. 

It happens similarly to us - when I was traveling, being passionate about health and healthcare it gave me a unique view on all I was experiencing abroad. I was seeing what illnesses people deal with within different countries, and how they are treating them, with what restraints they are dealing. My interest in these issues and the experiences I was gathering during these years created an unconscious frustration, instinct, that something is wrong, and bothered me that it was not solved until today. How to find a pulmonology specialist in Nepal, or which Hospital can perform rheumatism tests and treatment in Tanzania? The only source of information were people who were in reach like a front desk in a hotel, which often proved to be not a reliable source of information. The Internet just had some 10 years old blog posts or forum discussions which were the same as asking a random person on the street, not easy to understand or not sure is accurate.  

In many countries, I'm speaking about 3 continents, which encompass more than half of our global population in Africa, Asia, South America don’t have access to reliable, integrative, advanced medicine. And traveling to a neighboring country for a simple procedure like diagnostics, vaccination, or consultation is considered a norm. 

Medical Tourism relies on the centuries-old process which for example was in tourism up until 2000, you have to go to a travel agency and pay a lot of money and if you’re lucky the treatment will be right for you and you will be healed, and if not what can you do? It is hard to find who provides what treatment, how much it costs, what is the quality, what is the feedback from patients, all accessible and not costly. It's hard to remember how expensive and inaccessible it was to travel in the past, thanks to the internet all changed, now we can travel cheap, easy and anytime we want. 

Building a Product To Test The Market

Who are the patients who need medical support and don't have access to treatment information, where are they from, and many other questions we had no answers to, even so, we had no idea what is the real problem we are trying to solve. 

To find out more, we have implemented our first version of the website. After much research, yet we were not solving anything, the website only existed to help us find out what we have to do and who we are trying to help, what are the problems these people have, and what solutions they’ve tried, what worked and what didn’t. 

In the process we were implementing new tools and talking constantly to patients from around the world, listening to their stories, trying to piece it all together.  

By constantly improving different elements, implementations and solutions, we have created a core path which worked for as many users as possible. Our goal is to create an open platform, where patients and medical institutions can freely interact with each other, where patients community can gather and discuss its concerns, challenges and organise to find and implement solutions, for patients to have a voice. We focused the interactions to be meaningful and easy for both parties. Finally the clear path of our first solution formed in reality and in our heads, we knew for who, what problems, and how we could solve it. 

In retrospect I want to say that the most important things that helped us get where we are, were 3 things: talking with our patients and their stories, how they got treatments, talking to medical representatives and listening to their stories, how they work with patients, and the statistics how users use our solutions.

Talking about the future of the startup, I can say only one thing,  I don’t know how our solution will look like tomorrow, in 3 or 5 years, it all depends on our users. I only know that our goals are to help people to find treatment information from anywhere instantly, we want that this information to be free for them, I think this is what our users want and this is not going to change soon. 

Telemedicine to the Rescue - Telemedicine For All

Lately, we all often hear the word Telemedicine, before December 2019 we were talking about it like an alien - we know it is there somewhere, but we don’t know when we will meet. We were always planning the Telemedicine for the future as an independent project from MedicalTourism.Review which will allow people to get online medical support no matter where they are. This will give access to millions, if not more, to medical support locally and globally, which maybe is not accessible at the moment to them, how good it would be that anyone could talk to a doctor online if it is not possible physically.  

But the pandemic changed the rules of the game. 

Due to the high risk of contamination in medical facilities, and the economical risks these institutions were facing were beyond their abilities, especially the private medical institutions which did not have government support, resulted in many Hospitals and Clinics closing in many countries around the globe. 

What happens to the rest of the people, whose health issues did not vanish with the pandemic, where they can get medical support, trying to reach anyone online, anyone who would answer. As we were on the front line of patient support online, we were trying to get them connected to medical support they need where many Hospitals and Clinics were silent for months, it was distressing to see how so many people were isolated not getting any medical help. 

This experience weighed on my shoulders heavily, keeping me up at night thinking how we can help. This is when we thought that it would be great that people could have access to telemedicine, locally or globally, and if 3 hospitals don’t answer which one will answer, how to help people to get in touch with a doctor online? How can we make telemedicine accessible for any patients and to any medical institution? 

In April we participated at #EUvsVirus and could test and design a solution that collected great feedback from our mentors and Medical Professionals, especially representatives from the medical tourism industry telling us that our solution is unique because no one yet tried to implement telemedicine for medical tourism. 

Well, what is the result, the problem of Telemedicine until today that it happens into ways, or the patient from a first world country, for example, US or UK have insurance which offers telemedicine as a service to its clients, it is not accessible to anyone, and rarely telemedicine is accessible nationwide. Another method is nonofficial telemedicine which is called Skype, it works only in specific cases, in small clinics and offering very specific services, for example fertility treatment where the patient discusses with the clinic multiple times online to prepare for the treatment, which covers a very small number of patients, or WhatsApp dentistry, the problem that this solution is not integrated with the medical systems and can’t be used for a bigger number of patients and multiple doctors in different specialties. 

For this reason, we want to implement Telemedicine where a doctor can log in to the platform, and you won’t need to install anything, develop it, maintain and fix bugs. On the other side for the patients, anyone can use it only by logging in and can talk to a doctor on video, book appointments, or talk in a chat with the receptionist. 

This is what we are developing right now, and soon we will have new updates on the progress. 

You can check out the listings of medical institutions from over 100 countries, or packages published by them, or talk to patient in the community on MedicalTourism.Review

 

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