The Ministry of Health is stranger with startups

Interview with Amirhossein Asadi, Member of the Planning Council for the Development of Digital Health Startups‌ and Director of Digital Content Generation Ecosystem

  • Although we are witnessing massive and surprising numbers and cost in Iran Health System, we barely see related startups being launched.

Considering that we are discussing due to Iranian startup ecosystem just for one decade , we have observed various startup growing. We now understand the priority of existence of a startup in health market.

Read this related post carefully.

In a conversation with Amirhossein Asadi, member of the planning council for the development of digital health and  the director of the ecosystem of digital content generation, we survey this issue.

  • What important factors cause this lack of medical startups in your opinion?

Startups world and its development require using of whole capacities but in our country there is a gap between medical and engineering societies and medical society suffers from low confidence.

In about one year and half ago, most of the medical startups did not have any members of doctors in their team and engineering society used to believe that medical field has overwhelmed their right.

On the other hand, doctors didn’t used to trust and believe in engineers as well. Therefore we confront with this issue that these two societies declined to work functionally.

Another reason could be that due to closed relationship between this filed and people safety and health we meet challenges for gaining proper trust and believe within professionals.

Another considerable reason is that doctors consider startups as a threat to their incomes and also some of the doctors who gain high reputations disagree with embarkation and development of startups because of this reason startups in this field are growing slower in comparison with other specialties.

Some of these people are related to some fraud and mafia group and due to these relationships they harm the startup growth. Maybe using the phrase of “fraud or mafia” is not proper.

Let say they are gaining benefits in absence of related startups. Imagine that millions dollars of drugs are prescribe unnecessarily and we usually see that a prescription which is given to a patient is not even related to his problem.

Information technology can be an obstacle on the way of those people who benefits from this situation. IT would clear the path of importing/exporting and prescribing the medicines.

  • What are the approaches in the Ministry of Health toward startups? Are they accepted these innovations?

Ministry of health is not familiar with startup mechanism at all. Ministry staffs still believe in the effect of using brochure and barely use the startup’s capacities.

If we take a careful look, we‘ll get that one of the causes referred to the health ministry directly, It means that the ministry which should be a pioneer in technology hasn’t reached to this level yet.

Sensitivity on people confidential information and lack of trust on technology may act as obstacles which prevent growth of startups in this field.

Although there is emphasis on developing health electronic system and health electronic documents in fourth, fifth and sixth  national development plan we haven’t seen any sign of startup growth in medical startup marketing.

  • Do you blame startups for this errors?

When a person is prescribing for a person or a healthy person should be aware that problem (sickness) and know the health system and related efforts to health.

On the other hand, as some startup investor and managers have little or even no level of knowledge about medical information, they are not able to understand sensitivity of this filed or have demands which are conflicted with health system rules.

All of these matters put us in a weaker destination and it is not a good situation for our country.

Health startups can provide social justice and whoever in every location of the country would access to the best medical care.

  • Why most of the startups focus on Online Counseling and Reservation in your opinion?

Perhaps because it’s easier or maybe medical society search for more patients. These startups focus on increasing patients as well.

Startups instead of facing with mafias which are making massive mess, prefer to choose safer methods. Sometimes startups have to get different licenses for a new activity, but with even two license they can do frequent actions.

Also, startups or people who are going to get near to this field don’t know anything about health filed.

Startups in transfer filed have interactions with updating technologies in worldwide but in health filed we have rare connection with other active global startups in this field.

If we plan to generate these connection by using E-health summer schools in Iran, we would cause enormous and impressive changes to happen.

  • These startups were failed to gain high stock of course, what should they do to increase the stock?

Reviews show that financial transaction of health startups is about 10 billion Tomans. However 400 million Tomans doctor visits is being done in a year, this cost is too insignificant.

In order to change this financial number and let startups enter this field we need health ministry to be well-welcoming and ruin the obstacles on the startups path.

Startups on the different side need to respect people information and ways of accessing to this information.

Recently, in online taxi startup, a driver’s information was leaked, imagine what would happen if an ADHD or hepatitis patient information leaks.It would be a massive mess and security error for the country. Therefore it’s impossible to ignore sensitivity in this sensitive field.

  • We spoke about non-diversification of  health startups, what are the other fields which are neglected?

Startups forget some priorities, for instance healthy life and lifestyle.

Within 80 million people In Iran there is 5 million people who are suffering of a disease and 75 million other are perfectly healthy.

If the startups invest on this healthy population and use technology capacity for promoting lifestyles, there would be great changes in society and people health.

This topic even doesn’t need to multiple licenses and also can make large amount of money and has significant effect on humans.

Electronic learning, health counseling, using different tests which can be used for estimating health are proper suggestions which can be developed by startups activists and it would change people lifestyles as a result.

Producing digital contents is another key factor. Unfortunately, health ministry use the least amount of video games and health startups in order to promote health condition.

The videos which are published via social media would be watched by millions of users with the least cost for the provider.

In return ministry of health still spends millions tomans for publishing and distributing brochures.

There may be a mafia group in publication field which prevent using health startup for making videos and publishing them through web. People culture is one the functional matters in development of health startups.

  • Is it possible for people to use startups services and technologies in health field or not? Were there any clarification about this subject or not?

The culture of using of technology in this field hasn’t been known completely within people.  2 or 3 years past to learn how to use online taxi services.

Online shopping were even difficult to learn in first step. If people feel the necessity, startups will grow to meet needs.

  • When we speak to startup owners they name lack of fund as the cause of failing their dreams, Why is not this field attractive enough for investors?

Investors do not eager to participate in this filed due to lack of medical knowledge and errors related to licenses thus there is no health startup in market.

About health market and its capacities have to say that we cannot consider all the market “startup”, because these numbers are for surgical operations, diagnosing diseases and etc. and some part of these matters can be online though.

It is predicted that information technology transaction is 35 billion dollars in Iran.We know that 25% of this market is completely run by health system.

This market can make money in health startup, Nano startups and Bio drug startups. Now some of traditional companies’ benefits are spending to combat with startups.

Eventually, these companies will be damaged because they prevent entrance of technology to the country and it makes themselves weak in the first place and get damaged.

If these kinds of disagreement reduce and startups get more scientific  and more updated , the investors would dare to get in and invest and finally a big market would start to happen and will be followed by providing jobs and comfort and well-being for people.

Ministry of health should delegate the duty of performing “health document” to private companies and act as supervisor. Health ministry should provide saving data base and formulate specific and scientific guidelines to facilitate development of electronic health and health startups.

Ministry of health should change its approach toward startups and be responsive to them and facilitate obtaining licenses.

Moreover if startups rely on ministry of health, they would be failed. They should see the ministry as a leader and try not to depend on it. 

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