A Digital Revolution in Healthcare: Greek startups poised to master e-Health

SEP-OCT 2017|BY ANTHE MITRAKOS, JOURNALIST, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST
Like many first world countries, Greece faces a number of health care sector woes including staff maldistribution, medical equipment shortage, old infrastructure, bureaucracy, and misaligned funding. The introduction of holistic innovative technology solutions, however, is providing faster, more accessible, and more efficient means of acquiring medical knowledge, goods, and services on demand.

With a mix of strategic information and communication technologies (ICT) such as digitization, internet access, cloud computing and social media use, advances in eHealth are revolutionizing health care systems on a global scale. In Greece, young entrepreneurs are eagerly creating platforms aimed at cutting unnecessary costs and bridging the gap between health care providers and patients through e-pharmacies, online medical consultation and prescriptions, digital record keeping, and doctor marketplaces.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) eHealth report, individuals and communities in Greece are among the 56% of world countries surveyed who use social media to help decide what health services to use. As more people turn to their computers and smartphones for a myriad of digitized services, the Greek health care environment is evolving with the addition of sites and mobile apps.

One such example is online consultation platform and doctor marketplace Docandu. Gearing for a launch in early 2018, founder Petros Pandis hopes the mobile app will improve the existing health care services status quo in Greece. Docandu, he explains, will use cloud and mobile frameworks, as well as Artificial Intelligence tools, to simplify the way patients interact with doctors. It will offer video and audio appointments and allow patients and medical providers to store, access, and share their records at the click of a button.

Another digital health startup, Among Doctors, helps the medical community connect with international hospitals and clinics, providing health institutions with a platform to recruit physicians for their vacancies.

“We face a global challenge where on one hand, many hospitals and medical centers cannot meet their personnel needs, even in developed countries, and on the other side, there are many doctors who cannot find the right job in their country and wish to develop their career abroad,” says Elena Barla, founder of the independent global physicians network.

Other sites focus on more specific patient categories and needs, providing awareness, resources, and connections that would have otherwise been difficult or impossible to access.

“Despite the best intentions of health care professionals, patients do not get as much time as they need with experts,” says Thanos Kosmidis, founder at CareAcross, an online platform providing cancer patients with personalized coaching, information, and medical guidance.

Bloode, an online blood donor community of over 3,700 individuals, allows users to create, share, and satisfy on-going calls for blood transfusion needs, while health care provider network, Doctor Anytime, offers appointment bookings via mobile app.

Following a rapid advance in digital technology solutions, increased efficiency, coupled with less time and resources spent on health care management, can provide a much-needed breath of fresh air to the traditional Greek health care ecosystem.

“Public health care covers a large part of the population but is mainly based on the efficiency of personnel facing a tremendous lack of means and infrastructure,” says Thodoris Karnavas, co-founder of Vresgiatro, a physician network, and Pharmatune, a mobile-friendly marketplace connecting users to the stock of some 130 local pharmacies in real-time.

With much room for improvement in Greece, health care tech startups constitute some of the country’s most promising and most important impact-driven efforts and business ventures, placing personal health in the limelight.

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