The founders of the MEDESK project supported by the business accelerator GVA LaunchGurus, Managing Director Vladimir Kovalsky and Technical Director Dmitri Lazutkin, launched their startup in 2008. Dmitri, while studying in Tokyo, broke his arm and found himself in a Japanese hospital. The level of automation of all hospital processes in Japan made a very strong impression on him. Dmitri suggested to Vladimir Kovalsky, his colleague studying at the Tokyo Agricultural and Technical University, that they create something similar for Russian clinics.
The idea itself is not new. The distinction in principle of MEDESK is that all information is processed not on the clinic’s servers, but in a computer cloud. The clinic does not need to equip a server room, buy equipment, or hire system administrators and programmers. The business model is subscription services. The clinic pays for using the system as for the telephone or the Internet, monthly or once a year.
In 2012, the MEDESK startup joined the GVA LaunchGurus programme. “The Startup Academy is really is a very successful combination of theory and practice in building a business, working in the present-day reality of the market”, says Vladimir Kovalsky.
MEDESK graduated from the Academy in 2013. But the contact was by no means lost. Close business relations are still maintained between the startup and the Academy, including with its founder Lawrence Wright.
“We are positioning MEDESK as the most convenient and accessible solution for small private clinics which do not have IT and system administrators on the payroll”, says Vladimir Kovalsky, “but some clinics, to comply with the requirements of the times and of their patients, want to automate the basic business processes – to organize work with medical and non-medical data so that the patient is not burdened with a flash drive and a heap of papers. And so that it will be convenient for doctors to enter data on an electronic medical card, and the clinic director can see which of his departments is bringing in the maximum profit, and where further work is needed.”
“We do have competitors”, says Vladimir ironically, “but they are old-fashioned. For them, automation means laying cables and selling a server and a user workplace licence. This means a closed autonomous solution which is expensive to maintain and still more expensive to develop.”
The fact that the founders thoroughly understand the technicalities of such systems and are also extremely well informed about the problems of doctors and clinic administration is simple to explain: both Vladimir and Dmitri are programmers by education. They have experience of high-tech companies, but medicine is not “alien” to either of them; they are from doctors’ families, so they had family support in learning all the finer points of running a medical institution.
MEDESK is also positioning itself as a leader in telemedicine. This technology not only helps to save life and health, but also helps clinics to increase their incomes considerably by remote diagnosis. According to Vladimir, one Siberian hospital alone earned over 27 million roubles in 2013. Furthermore, thanks to the MEDESK platform, both parties make money: both the clinic where the readings were taken and the clinic which interpreted the data.
The MEDESK company is profitable and developing rapidly. Its turnover for 2014 was 10 million roubles. The founders invested 50,000 dollars in their startup, having earned this from other IT projects. Altogether, about one million dollars have been invested and reinvested in the company.
“We conducted a successful PR campaign and had to beat off the clamouring investors”, says Nadezhda Angarkhayeva, who deals with the company’s PR and marketing. “The venture ecosystem of Moscow is just like a village: everyone knows everyone else, it’s easy to find money. But then the crisis over Ukraine suddenly arose. Now there is an atmosphere of uncertainty. Which is actually just what makes a real venture atmosphere.”
More than 1000 doctors, administrators and economists in 21 regions of Russia are now using the advantages of the MEDESK platform, serving more than 100,000 patients and colleagues. By assimilating markets beyond the bounds of Russia, the company will greatly expand its opportunities.