The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there is a global shortage of 4.3 million physicians, nurses, and other health professionals. With not enough physicians to handle the population, enabling them to do consultations remotely will enable them to cater to more patients. That’s where Medgate comes in with its vision to provide healthcare to the majority and make it more accessible to everyone.
Excerpt from the dialogue with Stavros Athanasiou: Stavros talks about the increasing need to incorporate telemedicine systems in healthcare delivery and practices and how Medgate is making a concerted effort to increase access and coverage between healthcare practitioners and patients.
What are your company offerings? How have consumer responses shaped them over the years?
Medgate’s tele-treatment program provides non-emergency and non-life-threatening treatment to eligible patients. Medgate’s tele-treatment includes having access to licensed Filipino nurses and doctors, international guidelines and protocols followed by our specialist doctors, triage conducted by Medgate nurses, and general referrals to customer clinics and affiliate networks. Medgate also provides laboratory requests and interpretation, e-prescriptions, and certificates of medical teleconsultation right after the patient’s consultation. We provide multiple touchpoints to our patients such as landline, mobile, and social media networks to provide 24/7 access to patients.
Due to the pandemic, people fear going to medical facilities to have their medical consultations face-to-face because they might be exposed to the virus. This contributed to the recognition that Telemedicine plays a big role, where having medical consultation remotely is an alternative to a face-to-face consultation for non-emergency cases. For the patient, it is more convenient and cost-efficient. Medgate was one of the first companies that passed the rigorous accreditation by the Philippine Department of Health (DoH) and National Privacy Commission (NPC) to deliver teleconsultation services to Filipinos during the period of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. During this time, Medgate had a 170% increase in calls. Medgate continues to handle a high number of calls as part of the new normal where there is an almost equal ratio of new and repeat callers.
Every business, big or small, gets its fair share of challenges, especially during the initial days. Tell us about your challenges and how you managed to overcome them.
Telemedicine in the Philippines is relatively new. Hence, introducing it to Filipinos, who are used to face-to-face consultation was very challenging. The key to introducing them was partnering with companies that are in the health, insurance, and banking industries with many customers that are looking for added benefits. In cooperation with them, we were able to create awareness and provide their customers with telemedicine which became an add-on to the services that they were offering. It became a unique selling point for our partners. To create awareness among our members and to the untapped market, we were aggressively present on social media. We also conducted road shows and orientations and participated in conferences.
How do you define success? Do you think there is some sort of formula to be successful?
Success for us is being able to attain the trust of our clients in providing what was promised – to provide accessible healthcare. We focus on proper planning, implementation, and review of results. This not only applies to addressing concerns of our external stakeholders but our internal stakeholders as well. Communicating effectively and efficiently is crucial in the healthcare industry where we are dealing with lives.
What would you say are the factors that have contributed to your success as an organization?
As an organization, we ensure to stay true to our vision which is to provide accessible
healthcare to Filipinos. With this in mind, we practice our core values within the organization by being easy, efficient, innovative, and personal. Easy – where our services are accessible, straightforward and easily understood by our patients; Efficient – we offer optimal, cost-effective, and solution-oriented medical treatment; Innovative – we are at the forefront of healthcare technology and we are driving its development forward; lastly, we are Personal – we focus on the wellbeing of our patients and communicating with them as individuals to provide them the care that comforts.
What do you think is a unique aspect of your business?
What sets us apart is that even before the pandemic, we were already providing accessible healthcare to the members of our partners. Our services focus on 24/7 teleconsultation service where we can provide medical consultations over the phone for non-life threatening, non-emergency health concerns.
We ensure having multiple touchpoints to provide accessibility to our patients. We can be reached through landline, mobile phone, website, social media, as well as an upcoming mobile app so that patients can call our doctors anywhere, anytime. Apart from that, we have more than 22 years of experience in the Telemedicine industry, handling over 12 million teleconsultations globally.
The Medgate platform is robust, tried, and tested for the delivery of high-volume teleconsultations to a large member base. We employ statistically based clinical guidelines. These guidelines allow a General Practitioner to treat a dermatological case, or an Internist to treat a pediatric case, etc. Medgate does not rely solely on the knowledge of an individual doctor. Instead, our doctors can lean on the body of work that our entire global organization generates, so our doctors can confidently diagnose and treat our patients.
Where do you see your company a few years from now?
Before the pandemic, Medgate had set into motion its plans of expanding into key ASEAN markets. The execution of these plans will continue as soon as business travel resumes in the region. Medgate will continue to innovate and grow its telemedicine core business as new technologies emerge. The advent of 5G broadband should make for an immersive high-resolution video experience further enhancing the experience of patients. Advances in wearables, especially those with the ability to capture body temperature, blood pressure, and even blood sugar will usher in a new wave of customers.
How has your journey been so far?
The journey for me has been fulfilling and frustrating, rewarding, and disappointing. Like all involved in healthcare, we mourn the loss of many due to the cause of the pandemic, but we look forward to the future with a great deal of optimism as a result of the array of digital tools in the market. These tools will definitely enhance and grow the business. Exciting times up ahead!
Meet Stavros Athanasiou, President, Medgate Philippines
Concurrently being the President of Medgate Philippines, Stavros is also the Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary for TMIP Holdings Pty Limited, a holding company for telemedicine operations located in Asia. Since his appointment in 2015, he has overseen the setup and deployment of regional accounting systems and reporting frameworks.
Stavros earned his Master of Accounting at the University of Technology Sydney and a Master of Taxation through the University of New South Wales. He is currently undertaking a Master of Public Health from Monash University.
Before commencing himself to Medgate Philippines via TMIP Holdings Pty Limited, he served as the Chief Financial Officer for Rantarna Pty Limited, a private investment vehicle for a private equity firm. Stavros has also been responsible for controlling investments in several entities in telecommunications, leasing, and telecommunications activities.
Quote: “We at Medgate make a difference by working with patients to motivate, and empower them through continual education, clinical reminders, and guidance to help them achieve their health goals and improve their quality of life” – Stavros Athanasiou, President, Medgate Philippines.