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Evan Kirstel and Irma Rastegayeva

Digital Health Interviews: Evan Kirstel and Irma Rastegayeva. Digital Health in Ukraine

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This interview differs from previous issues, even in that it took place in the format of a three-way conversation, and our usual interviewer Alex Koshykov answered many questions himself. The guests in the “screen” were Evan Kirstel and Irma Rastegayeva, who are co-founders of eVira Health. Both Evan and Irma are tech influencers; they help startups and big tech with social media campaigns and marketing strategies. The main topics of conversation were the catastrophe of the Ukrainian healthcare system, how digital health helped during the war and what the future of telehealth is.

Ukraine is going through hard times because of the brutal russian invasion. The healthcare sector has also experienced a significant crisis. Lots of hospitals got bombed, and lots of private clinics were closed, because people don’t have enough money for their services. It also looks like the pandemic of COVID has stopped in Ukraine on February 24th, as the priorities have changed in the country. Fortunately, many foreign partners provide a lot of medical help.

It’s hard to talk about digital health, when people need food, water, medicine, and weapons to defend themselves. But are there examples of digital health in Ukraine that would benefit people unconditionally?

Alex Koshykov:

“Two weeks after the war started, our BeKey company has launched a telehealth platform Doctors4UA. It’s completely free for all the Ukrainians, who are not even in the country right now. Doctors from all over the world are volunteering and dedicating their time to consult and help online. It’s hard to say, what was the percentage of the population in Ukraine using telehealth before the war started, but now it increases, because for lots of people it is the only way to get help, especially for those who are in shelters and basements. They need to get some consultations. We can see how many people use our platform. I am happy that technologies are here to help Ukrainians in such difficult circumstances”.

Then the experts continued the topic of the development of telemedicine not only in the example of Ukraine, but all around the world. Evan and Irma talked about their own company eVira Health and some points that, in their opinion, all companies, related to digital technologies, should pay attention to in their work.

Evan Kirstel:

“It is very important in marketing to pay attention to storytelling and content creation. The future belongs to content creators. You should communicate at the human level, because our new time is digital and social. Even big brands should be good at social media”.

Irma Rastegayeva:

“We love working with startups, there is always a “why?” part. It’s really fulfilling and passionate to work about starting something, where founders have their personal experience. Every startup we work with had some problem and came to us with a solution to it. That is very important: they think they can make valuable changes to the healthcare system”.

There has been a huge amount of investments in digital health over the last several years. But the 1st quarter of 2022 brought us a 36% drop in funding in digital health from the fourth quarter of 2021, according to CB Insights. Fintech and retail tech sectors only saw 18% and 11% funding decreases respectively. According to Irma’s opinion, this is not something to worry about: any process has a pendulum effect.

“I think this can be cyclical. iIt might be natural for investors to want to take a stand, to see how things will be with this huge flow of cash, and so many new startups are unseen. Now we try to get to a new normal life. Telehealth and virtual visits are to be the part of the system. As a patient myself and as a patient advocate, I’m very active in digital health communities. And we really want continuous coverage of the telemedicine services. I think there should be some consolidation between startups, providers of technologies and apps”.

So, there is no reason to panic about this. Now is a very good time to come together: both in digital development and in security and helping each other.

Our previous episode with Renee Dua. HeyRenee - startup built on patients’ needs.

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