The new episode of Digital Health Interviews became the first one recorded offline. The guest expert is startup founder Maciej Malenda (Poland).
Maciej Malenda: co-founder and COO of Polish startup “Doctor.One”; worked at IBM as a project manager and in the eHealth system in Poland; has experience working at one of the biggest private healthcare providers in Eastern Europe “Medicover” (head of innovations) and “Infermedica” (director of partnerships). In the meantime, he is involved in the “K.I.D.S. Foundation” (dedicated to creating innovative solutions for the whole children’s hospital experience). Lecturer, TEDx speaker. Triathlete; has finished two “IRONMAN” distances.
In his work experience, Maciej has a “mark” of 7 years in such a technological giant as “IBM,” which he considered the best experience he could have as a first professional development step. How did it help him to become a successful startup owner in the future?
Maciej Malenda: I had the experience of bringing huge solutions of millions of dollars to the market. I was able to teach myself with necessary chief skills in this big corporation: how to do everything correctly, what to do when something goes wrong, how to avoid risks and deal with issues, and so on.
The host of the series, Alex Koshykov, and the expert did not miss the historical moment when 11 years ago, “IBM”’s Watson won the “Jeopardy!” quiz game versus the best players of all years. But after significant investment, the company didn’t come close to the stated goal of “The Future of Health Care.” There were reflections on the topic: was the reason for the failure in “IBM” or the approach of AI to the health care system? The specialist emphasized that his former company is a true legislator of innovations. “IBM” is excellent at predicting what will be of future market value and general use. According to him, there is a specific problem in the industry due to several social reasons.
Maciej Malenda: I think healthcare is the most challenging place to start with AI, and this is what we are going from with the “Doctor.One”. It’s tough to disconnect from social relationships with healthcare. Many things are happening in-between, and the weight of the decision is quite different than, for example, in banking. At the end of the day, when you’re making a decision in the bank, and you are making a wrong decision to give credit, you lose money. But making a false conclusion about health, especially in complex conditions like cancer, chemotherapy, etc., means problems with life and probably death. You can make the only mistake. Healthcare is the sexiest and the most brutal place to start with AI. It’s tricky when you’re trying to sell something possible to use in theory. I think the future is in the connection between doctors and artificial intelligence; we should start with their better relations in patient care.
Maсiej says the decision to become a startup founder was taken from his very inception. He began thinking seriously about the idea itself in 2011. The impetus was the companies he worked for and MIT-Harvard Medical School Healthcare Innovation Bootcamp. What is his startup “Doctor.One” about?
“Doctor.One” is a virtual platform with a different approach to the relationship between doctor and patient. The two basements of the company were a wish to make the world choose telemedicine before a visit and the period 70-80s when medicians knew much more about their patients. They created an application for patients and doctors; you can’t access a random doctor when you have a problem. The doctors are choosing whom to take care of. “Doctor.One” doesn’t have its clinics; now they are aiming for private doctors. Its aim is the daily exchange and personal care of patients by doctors they trust. Doctors can subscribe to the service and better accompany their patients through the illness and recovery process through daily digital check-ups and visits. The virtual clinic allows them to reply to messages from their regular patients, check their treatment progress, or offer a video consultation. They can ask patients to visit their practice or pay them a home visit if necessary.
Maciej Malenda: We are “OnlyFans” for doctors; our doctors are gathering the fans for their work. We are saying to them: “You shouldn’t take care of each patient who comes to your room! You can choose whom you want to treat for the longer term.” We are creating kinds of microbusinesses for doctors. They don’t waste much time, and the patients have a doctor in their pocket. In theory, they know that the doctor will answer at some point in time in between. They are surprised when the doctors write to them earlier.
The company was registered in May 2021 and appeared on the market in December 2021 with raised €440k for its mobile virtual clinic. There are two things in its plans for the year from now: to make a solid product-market feat for Poland and to have at least one other country in Southern Europe for activity.
Maciej Malenda: We postponed official communication and focused on creating a terrific story about how we are different. It wasn’t easy to tell why we needed this money or about our role in the market. Technology and development took more than 50 percent of investments. The second version of “Doctor.One” was made with the feedback from doctors and patients. We wanted to go faster and more serious.
And traditionally, in the final of the episode, there are some invaluable pieces of advice for startup founders in digital health.
Maciej Malenda: People are always saying that they need to be fast. It is about the world we live in now; you need to live fast, think fast, and work fast. I like the saying: “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” I believe, especially in a startup, don’t worry that you haven’t started yet. I began to think about my startup in 2011 and made it in 2021. So go slow, steady and smooth, especially concerning startups in healthcare!
Hope you enjoy watching this new episode!
Our previous episode was with Levi Shapiro & Ellie Hanson: Digital Health in Israel
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