Building with Blockchain technology
Mendoza (pic above) explains that the team has been intrigued by blockchain technology for the past couple of years.
“In the fintech space blockchain is very popular, but we felt that the concept of blockchain distributed databases, their immutability and encryption would be very beneficial to healthcare as well. So that’s when we started trying to deep dive research a few companies in the US and Singapore doing healthcare-based blockchain technologies. And we felt that it (blockchain) would be the next step for us and also the healthcare space.”
According to Mendoza, the company has already done blockchain implementations for healthcare in the Philippines.
“For example, for the HealthPortal part of the HealthBlocks ecosystem, that’s what we’ve been using with the Ministry of Health projects over the past few years. We started commercialising HealthPortal two years ago with the Ministry of Health projects and the HealthWallet and HealthNetwork are completely new solutions that we are integrating with the Health Portal. So at the hackathon in Dubai, we specifically created HealthWallet and HealthNetwork to communicate with HealthPortal.”
For the HealthPortal, the company has carried out deployments, namely the HIV and sexually transmitted diseases data management systems for the entire country.
They are working with 70 clinics nationwide, with close to 100,000 patients benefitting from these two deployments.
“Right now we are working on getting hospitals on board,” Mendoza shares.
In terms of their revenue model, HealthWallet is free for the public to download and use, while HealthPortal and HealthNetwork are chargeable services.
The customers for the HealthWallet are basically patients. “It is an identification platform that basically enables patients to go to any hospital and clinic and just show the HealthWallet, which has access to government insurance, private health insurance, and high-level information about the patient. In terms of that particular vertical, we felt that it should be free of charge to patients. The plan is to launch the mobile application in the apps store in a couple of weeks.
“We will be getting revenue from HealthPortal and HealthNetwork deployments. For those two solutions, we will be partnering with healthcare organisations, hospitals and clinics and the Ministry of Health, and basically, those solutions charge per patient. So for example, if a particular hospital doesn’t have a data management system, the HealthPortal will be deployed for them and it integrates with the other hospitals and clinics through the network itself.
“So the charge to the hospital will be per patient based on the number of active patients per month and it will be billed accordingly. So it’s a deviation from the revenue model of the healthcare system in the Philippines where the costs are upfront to the hospital such as licensing fees or server costs, where irrespective of the number of the patients, they still get charged a huge amount.”
When asked how they will utilise their hackathon prize money, Mendoza reveals that they will be funnelling 90% of the money into the company as part of their budget for developing and deploying HealthBlocks.
The quest for funds
Prior to winning the hackathon, they secured two rounds of angel funding to the tune of US$40,000 in the past six months. With the combined funds, the focus is on developing HealthBlocks as a platform, he says.
[Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated the angel funding amount.]
Is VC fundraising a key goal for the company? “For us, the trip to Uber headquarters in San Francisco is part of the incubation programme, so if we could get some VC funding in San Francisco, to help us expand regionally, that would be a huge boost for us because we feel that HealthBlocks as a platform could benefit not only the Philippines, but neighbouring Asean countries as well,” Mendoza says.
He adds that when he was in Malaysia, he spoke to a few players in the healthcare space and to the former head of the Ministry of Health Malaysia as well.
“The struggle is similar. The healthcare space is very fragmented, with disparate technologies. So the goal for us with regional expansion is if the San Francisco VCs could help us with funding, we’re quite open to that as well. So that’s part of the roadmap for 2017 and beyond.”
What has he learned so far from being an entrepreneur? “Being a first-time entrepreneur and doing this first part-time and then full-time for these last couple of years…it sounds clichéd, but it was so difficult. It’s not like the romanticised version we see in the movies and the Silicon Valley TV series.”
He adds that it’s important to be strong mentally and emotionally. “There will be lots of ups and downs but mostly what brings you down are the down moments. I’ve learned that if you really believe in the vision of the company, and if you really believe that this is the life for you, then by all means pursue it. There’ve been many sacrifices along the way and I know that there will be more to come. But when I look back at what I’ve accomplished in a short span of time, with limited resources and how we’re trying to impact the society, I think somehow it’s quite worth it,” he shares.
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