Keep in Touch, Stay in ControlWed, 09/07/2016 - 16:51
Q: What opportunities does Medtep see in digital health in Mexico and worldwide?
A: Digital healthcare is one of the market segments that has been growing the most in the last three to four years, with extraordinary development in recent months. Healthcare and education are the two sectors with the most promising opportunities because they suffer from inefficiencies. In Silicon Valley, we see many initiatives in digital health and the Mexican market enjoys unified information systems so technology can close many gaps in the country. One of the main drivers of this trend is the global economic crisis leading governments to reduce expenditures. The implementation of technology is lagging in healthcare, but those solutions that have been introduced to the sector have produced excellent return on investments. We expect to see more applications in this area in the future.
Perfect timing does not exist in this market, it is difficult to predict acceptance of this type of technology. We have a hand in three very different markets. The US is mature and we have many competitors, but the market is not saturated. It is dynamic and has the ability to reinvent itself frequently. Medtep knows the European market perfectly, and it is extremely segmented across the biggest three markets in the UK, Germany and Spain. Mexico was chosen as the most relevant country in Latin America and as the first step toward penetrating the region. This market needs our health planning technology urgently and we have already witnessed digital health success stories.
Q: Can you provide a technical description of your services?
A: Our services represent an excellent way to follow up with patients’ treatment. Physicians prescribe diet, exercise or medication for a certain period or for the rest of a patient’s life, but they can run into difficulties following treatment. Our platform provides patients with the opportunity to keep in touch with their physician and control their disease. Physicians rarely know exactly what patients are doing outside the consultation, which has sparked apps related to healthcare and wellness that could provide valuable information for physicians about their patients.
We offer treatment plans for physicians to give to patients. Through agreements with medical societies and reference medical institutions, we ensure validations of all medical content and our platform can cover treatments for any disease. Our app also has a high degree of personalization, meaning physicians can adapt the treatment plan or create a new one according to the requirements and needs of each patient.
Q: What impact has Medtep had in both Spain and the US since its foundation?
A: The company was founded in Spain as an initial step to do some pilot tests at the lowest cost possible and then it was scaled up. Medtep was moved to the US last year, with headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Barcelona and Mexico. The company is growing through strategic alliances in the US and we have seen the greatest growth of our operations in Mexico in recent months. We have operated for a year in Mexico and we already have some projects with pharmaceutical companies, insurance firms, and the government. We are planning to further expand this year and invest more resources to support our growth.
Q: How does this tool improve treatment adherence?
A: Patient adherence is perhaps the most important area of opportunity for digital health. Many entrepreneurs are obsessed with getting more clients, users and sales, but this is pointless if the actual value of the tool is not authenticated. We are completely oriented toward improving patient outcomes. We have conducted clinical trials for hemophilia, asthma and borderline personality disorder. The study for hemophilia found that patient adherence improved 60 percent with savings of US$5,300 per year. We are focused on validating this tool in our three markets. In Mexico, we are managing a plan for obesity alongside medical societies and the government. We are also developing a treatment plan for respiratory diseases.
Q: How are you combatting resistance from technologyreluctant physicians and educating patients about these tools?
A: Physicians do not always welcome new technologies when first introduced to them. They realize through using the tool that it simplifies following up with patients instead of representing more work for them. This tool can reduce the number of phone calls and emails from their patients, diverting follow-up through the platform where everything is automatic. This kind of application is not for everyone but the acceptance among physicians has been excellent. We proudly discovered that age is not a limit for the platform since we have seen both young and older physicians using it. This can differ in patients and depends on the treatment they are receiving. Young people between the ages of 13 and 25 are using the hemophilia solution, while our COPD users are above 50 years old.
We are engaged in training and educating patients on these kinds of platforms and tools. The development of the platform was a joint effort with both physicians and patients. Patient associations, having been told about the platform, are interested in receiving more information and frequently contact Medtep. This is valuable for rare and chronic diseases, for which follow-up and treatment adherence are critical.
Q: For which other diseases do you want to create platforms?
A: We are focused on rare and chronic diseases and there are many yet to be explored. We are also tapping into mental health and prevention. The latter will not be a wellness app but a treatment plan to prevent diseases or their progression, such as pre-diabetes. We want our platform to be the basis for the development of many more treatment plans, and to stay as flexible as possible so that any healthcare practitioner can develop a treatment. This opens up many opportunities, and our growth will be sustained through collaborative efforts with telemedicine firms and wellness companies. We are collaborating with telemedicine companies so that physicians can follow up with patients after diagnosis through our platform.
Q: How do you expect telemedicine to transform healthcare in areas with few hospitals and limited medical attention?
A: I am completely certain that we have only seen a small part of the great potential of telemedicine. Many doctors still think they need to have contact with the patient to examine him or her but a plethora of medical visits are not necessary, they simply consume time and money that is limited in these communities. Follow-ups through telemedicine platforms are effective and they are growing significantly. I am optimistic that we will see this booming in Mexico in the short term. Most of our Mexican projects have started in Mexico City but we are running some pilot tests in rural areas where we see plenty of opportunities.
Q: What do you feel led you to receive the ‘30 under 30’ award from Forbes?
A: There are few Hispanics on the list and I see this award as recognition for all the members of Medtep’s team. The award also reflects the trust of the American market in our operations and the expectations of our customers and investors. We want to continue capitalizing on the many opportunities in digital health and try to reach as many people as possible. There are plenty of ways to collaborate with new industry players and we are open to do so.
Q: What else do you envision for your company’s tools in Mexico in 2016?
A: Medtep was founded in Spain but moved to the US last year. Our headquarters are in San Francisco and our offices in Barcelona and Mexico. We are growing through strategic alliances in the US and we have seen the greatest growth in our Mexican operations this last year. We already have some projects with pharmaceutical companies, insurance firms and the government. We are planning further expansion this year and to nvest more resources to support our growth.
Our platform could be an exceptional tool for research in clinical trials as it keeps a record of the lifestyle habits of patients. We have worked with the pharmaceutical industry but not during clinical trials per se because there are many good systems and competitors and we are not limiting ourselves to just one kind of segment or clinical application. The platform is flexible and open for use throughout patients’ treatment.
We want to consolidate our commercial position establishing more agreements and creating synergies with companies. We also aim to scale up the pilots that are already running in the country, which will be achieved with the help of exterior units to gather evidence of the functionality and effectiveness of our platform. We will be investing significant resources this year and in 2017, which will also contribute to job creation in Mexico.