Source: eKapija | Monday, 17.04.2017.| 12:10
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More than 500 medical doctors in VisMedic online clinic system in 2017 – Telemedicine platform penetrating markets of EU, Russia and Middle East

The online clinic VisMedic, a unique telemedicine platform in Southeast Europe, has enabled patients in Serbia and the region to have video consultations with medical doctors, which were limited exclusively to communication between doctors until now, due to high costs of the specialized video conference equipment. This startup was founded by Jovan Paunovic, based on his own personal experience. The platform, which had been developed for three years, has been active since 2015, whereas a new, upgraded version was made last year. The development of mobile apps and technology which will enable access to the platform through IP/cable television has also started.

Video consultations with doctors through VisMedic are currently available to patients from the territories of former Yugoslavia, as well as to the diaspora of this region, and the project will expand to the markets of the EU, Russia and the Middle East in the next 12 months. Following conferences in Germany and Poland and an encouraging number of potential partners and investors, VisMedic might expand its business before this deadline – in the next six months. According to Jovan Paunovic, this primarily depends on the company’s capability of carrying out the necessary preparations and attracting additional capital for expansion.

– We are considering several markets, but our final decision will be made once we’re ready to make this step. Our energy is currently focused on expanding our business in territory of the former Yugoslavia, which entails the expansion of the network of partners – providers of healthcare services (hospitals and medical doctors), insurance companies, telecoms, media and communities from the field of healthcare. This stage entails long-term efforts not immediately visible to the clients, but still necessary for the project to be realized successfully. Furthermore, we are investing considerable resources in client support, which will soon be made available 24/7 – eKapija’s interviewee explains.

Regarding the business model, Paunovic emphasizes that VisMedic has just developed subscription packages for legal entities looking to provide their employees with a more comfortable and advanced form of healthcare, while making big savings for themselves and increasing the productivity and employee satisfaction. Following the initial phase with the first clients, the packages will be offered publically, and individual and household subscriptions in cooperation with the telecom industry are also being considered.

– On the technical plane, we are developing new functions based on client request, but also native mobile apps, which will provide us with additional opportunities to develop our business.

The advantages of the platform were also recognized by the expert jury of the Aurea 2017 awards, handed out by the business portal eKapija for nine years in a row, with VisMedic being one of this year’s eight finalists.

Opportunity for digital healthcare startups

eKapija Executive Director Zdravko Loncar awarding Jovan Paunovic, founder of VisMedic with the plaque
eKapija Executive Director Zdravko Loncar awarding Jovan Paunovic, founder of VisMedic with the plaque
The business model being developed by VisMedic enables considerable savings in time and money for both the patients and the service providers. Patients have been given a reliable tool for getting professional, personalized medical advice from the most competent experts in the quickest, easiest way possible, whereas, for medical workers, this is the simplest and most comfortable way to do extra work. The prices of consultations through VisMedic are 30% lower than medical examinations by the same doctor at their office, and, keeping in mind the state of the health system in Serbia, the platform is a one-of-a-kind step forward in modernizing medicine in the country.

The project started with 30 medical doctors, whereas their number now exceeds 200. Partnerships with the biggest companies in the sector have been established, namely, the health system of Bel Medic, MediGroup, the Faculty of Dental Medicine, as well as the insurance companies AXA/VIG (Wiener) Insurance, Generali...

– In addition to the said partnerships, our medium-term plans are related to opening an API for companies in digital healthcare in order to connect projects such as remote checking of blood sugar levels, pulse, blood pressure, ECG and others to the platform, providing doctors with even more information about the patients and their general and current state – Jovan Paunovic announces the next steps in developing the business and emphasizes that this move will be very useful for digital healthcare startups, as it will provide them with the quickest and simplest way possible of accessing the already established market and client pool.

– This kind of cooperation will contribute to innovative companies’ being perceived as pushing the economy forward, instead of merely fighting windmills while not being taken seriously until they achieve a considerable success – eKapija’s interviewee explains.

Top quality healthcare available to everybody

The idea of the platform is to reduce the problems in healthcare by facilitating access to top quality healthcare for all people, regardless of their geographical location, and at more affordable prices. The platform is very easy to use for both sides. Patients only need to have a computer, a web camera and an internet connection, and the service is available on mobile phones as well.

VisMedic doesn’t change the existing habits of its users. Instead, it provides them with a better and more reliable tool for getting a professional and personalized medical advice from the most competent experts in the quickest way possible, with the price of video consultation being 30% lower than a personal visit. The mass adoption of this kind of medical service provision could lead to even more favorable prices and bigger savings.

Furthermore, this business model envisages hiring a large number of health workers, mostly medical doctors with the highest degree of education.

– We hope that the number in Serbia alone will exceed 500 by the end of 2017. As the realization team of such a demanding and complex project needs to be multidisciplinary, VisMedic will employ people from various fields through planned investments and development to foreign markets: managers, legal practitioners, journalists, designers, medical doctors, pharmacists, engineers... I would also like to point out that the fully digitized and transparent way we operate is entirely in line with the state’s efforts towards countering the gray economy – Jovan Paunovic says.

Further investments and strategic partnerships planned

The development of the platform is for the most part a result of the work of local engineers and professionals, in cooperation with international experts, making VisMedic an example of local know-how. Jovan Paunovic emphasizes that the plan is to make further investments, primarily with strategic partners, but also established venture capital funds and family offices, exclusively those not yet present in the region.

– Last year, we had a negative experience with an “investor” which had presented itself as an investment fund doing business in developed market with EUR 100 million at disposal, looking for new opportunities in the region. It turned out in the end that there was no such investment fund, and the sad fact is that such an “investor” was promoted by credible local institutions and diplomatic representatives. This speaks to the fact that the venture capital industry is very underdeveloped here – Paunovic concludes and says he hopes the experience will be a valuable lesson to other startups as well.

Marko Andrejic

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