There are several healthcare problems in the Philippines. Not only do patients outnumber doctors by 1,400 to one, many healthcare centres are also not within patients’ geographical reach. A significant portion of its 100 million population are migrant workers spread in countries around the world.
Generally, taking hour-long queue at local clinics for a five-minute consultation can be a daunting experience for patients, emphasising the need for a solution to make remote consultation possible.
Enter Medifi, a cloud-based web app that allows remote doctor and patient consultation through its set of telehealth features, which include video conferencing, chat messaging, a personal medical profile and journal, and medical image management that enable patients to consult with doctors from the comfort of home.
While the service can never replace face-to-face visit for some cases, Medifi can make pre-visit evaluation and post-treatment follow-ups more convenient .
“Doctors who have used Medifi see it … as a good way to vet patients and shorten that long line at the waiting room, particularly those that don’t require on-site examination,” says Freddy Gonzalez, CEO of Medifi.
There are medical fields where Medifi aims to play a major role, particularly where physical examination is not required.
“We have reached out to … psychiatric care departments of major hospitals in Manila and are very confident that we can play a game-changing role in this field of healthcare,” says Jay Fajardo, CTO of Medifi.
Currently on public beta mode, Medifi was founded by Gonzalez, Fajardo, Martin Marty and Mooney Castillo. Run by a team of eight, the Manila-based startup is currently self-funded at US$500,000 and has just started raising funds to push for marketing efforts in the Philippines.
At the recent Websummit 2015 in Dublin, Ireland, Medifia was one of the 30 Alpha startups that was chosen for the Angels’ Choice Awards out of 2,141 that exhibited.
Doctors beyond the sea
Medifi began when Gonzalez experienced difficulty in connecting with his US-based doctors while in Manila.
Despite being relatively new, Philippines’ inbound medical tourism is growing steadily with the rise of its middle class.
In an email interview with e27, Fajardo explains that Medifi focusses on exposing local health care providers globally.
On the other hand, while a connected middle class remains the startup’s primary target market, Fajardo does not deny that outbound medical tourism is likely to produce bigger consumer numbers at the moment.
“We are aware of a growing market, middle-class and high-end, that have been seeking care in other countries both regionally and in the United States. Some of the strategic partnerships we have established in the US are specifically for this purpose,” he says.
He was referring to the startup’s effort to enter the US market by announcing sports orthopaedic surgeon and technologist Dr. Kevin Stone as the company’s Chief Medical Advisor. Medifi is also working closely with San Francisco-based NowLABS for strategic marketing, noticing opportunity with the high numbers of US doctors looking for patients abroad.
“Through them, we are touching base with a large network of doctors that primarily provide care to patients from outside the United States,” explains Fajardo.
“The team splits time between Manila and San Francisco every few months, but we are planning to establish a more long-term presence for some team members there as we expand our operations,” he adds.
Medifi currently has 10 doctors from both the Philippines and the United States using its service. Entering the first quarter of 2016, it expects to on-board some more in order to help grow its consumer base.