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Mediconecta: Telehealth startup has high hopes for Latin America

Earlier this year, companies and startups gathered at eMerge Americas, a business event to make connections with entrepreneurs and investors and participate in startup competitions. Mediconecta, a Miami based telehealth provider won first place in the startup competition. One of the judges believed this startup could take telehealth “to the next level in Latin America”.

We catch up with Daniel Silberman, CEO of Mediconecta over email to get his thoughts on how it felt to win the competition and his future plans for the startup.

 

Congratulations on your victory. Were you surprised to win?
Yes and no. On the one hand we knew we had something special and with tremendous potential. And also how hard we had worked to get here. On the other hand we were truly amazed with the level of the companies that were in our group and the amazing offerings they had [to offer]. So we were ecstatic when we found out that the judges had picked us.

What did you think of the eMerge event?
It’s a great event. It has grown so much since the first one. They have gained a lot of recognition from the tech industry, main players and influencers. I think it has the potential of becoming “the networking event” for technology and innovation for the East Coast and LatAm.

What problems are you hoping to solve with your technology in Latin America?
Mediconecta solves many issues and needs for different players in the health ecosystem.

For the patient, the main problem is lack of access to quality medical care when needed. In the rural areas this might be a consequence of the lack of qualified physicians. In the cities there’s another problem: it can take weeks to get an appointment with a doctor to solve a minor issue, which if not solved on time can have serious consequences for the patient's health. And for those who have access to doctors, we are still providing an improvement to the system by allowing them to get a faster response. We are aiming to transform the way people relate to health care.

For our clients, which are in most cases insurance companies, we are helping them reduce medical costs, by avoiding unnecessary visits to the ER and specialty care, while at the same time creating attractive monetisation opportunities with a very differentiating offering.

Some might say that face-to-face medical consultations are far better than consulting via videoconference. Your view?
Interestingly, it can turn out to be quite the opposite. When facing a doctor in person, you get to see the medical assistant for a while, then get exams done, fill out paperwork, and the doctor spends less than 10 minutes with you. In a video-chat the only option to interact is to talk and see each other, so the physician makes an extra effort to pay attention to each word the patient is saying. Our patients leave the visit very satisfied with the quality of the care. That said, our goal is not to replace in person visits when they are medically required, but to offer an alternative for those ailments that can effectively be treated online, which happen to represent about three in four medical visits. 

How do patients feel receiving medical advice via videoconference?
At first they are a bit sceptical, and don’t know what to expect. After they try it, almost all of them leave positively surprised, happy and satisfied with the result and generally saying “this is so the future of medicine”.

How do you see telemedicine helping healthcare in Latin America?
In many ways, access is a real problem. There are still significant segments of the population that either have no access or whose access is very limited or complicated. In addition for many people, going to the doctor represents moving significant distances. In some cases traveling for days to get to a capital where specialists are available.

Also, a majority of people in LatAm rely on the public health system to tend to their healthcare needs. The public systems are generally strained to say the least and will need efficient mechanisms to get the most out of the available medical resources. Telehealth has a big role to play by removing time and space constraints from the process.

What technologies do you find exciting at the moment?
Devices that are evolving to pretty much be able to measure anything in the body. And do so in a really portable way. I think these will integrate to really enhance and augment the possibilities of what we can do today.

What innovations in healthcare technology would you like to see next?
Better sharing of medical records, with unified repositories that facilitate continuity of care and eliminate duplicity from the system. 

How does the entrepreneurial culture vary in Latin America compared to other countries?
In the biggest markets in LatAm, I think entrepreneurial culture is growing as fast as in any other place. In the globalised world we live in today it’s common to see Latin based startups succeed in their home countries and outside of them too.

Should there be more of a focus on preventative care in Latin America?
Definitely. There's a lack of education and sometimes even more so, access, to preventive care.

How do you plan to spend the $100,000 cash prize?
We plan to invest in supporting our commercial expansion plans.

What is next for Mediconecta?
The company is expanding quickly in the Spanish speaking market, providing its services to the biggest insurance companies, banks and telcos. Aside from growing in our current markets, we are looking to open new operations in Colombia, Argentina and Brazil.

We are also expanding beyond our core in primary care into other telehealth services including speciality care and a health hub for chronic patient management.                                                     

As for the US, Mediconecta has a unique position to merge the medical need of Latinos in their home countries with the high quality medical care offered in the US; a project the company is pursuing through strategic partners, offering them a highly differentiated product to sell to their Hispanic customers.

 

Also read:

eMerge event showcases Latin American startup talent

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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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