A Slow But Steady Digital Healthcare Revolution Is Gaining Momentum: 10+ Startups Trying To Change Healthcare In Bangladesh
Healthcare is among the most potential sectors in Bangladesh. While Bangladesh, a country of 160 million population (according to the latest census), has achieved incredible feat in several areas of healthcare including drastic fall of child mortality rate (0.24%), but the country struggles big time when it comes to innovation in delivering healthcare, tackling nutritional problem, lack of knowledge about health and nutrition, and ensuring proper health care service to a huge population.
Bangladesh is one of the 57 countries identified by WHO in 2006 for having a severe scarcity of trained medical professionals. According to WHO, for every 1000 people in Bangladesh, there are only 0.3 doctors and 0.3 nurses. This has direct an impact on how we deal with health care. Our hospitals are overcrowded, physicians are overworked, quality of service continues to decline while the cost of healthcare continues to rise.
This offers a huge opportunity and a handful of startups are developing technology solutions to combat these problems. Below, we used our internal data and few other sources to identify some of the leading startups in the digital health and health Tech space in Dhaka.
As usual, this market map is not meant to be exhaustive, there are startups doing great work in the field that we are not aware of. If you know one, please send to our way. While our description of startups largely highlights their main product (s), many startups offer multiple products and cover multiple categories.
Companies that we covered in the market map fall into 7 main categories:
Telemedicine: Companies in this category develop telemedicine platforms that allow remote health service delivery and communication with a physician. For instance, Jeeon, a telemedicine platform in which patients communicate with a doctor through a local health facilitator.
Appointment Scheduling: Companies in this category allow consumers to schedule appointments with their physicians from their mobile phone. One example is BD Venture-backed Doctorola, a web and mobile platform focused on appointment booking among other capabilities.
Preventative healthcare system: Companies in this category are focused on helping people to track their health data so that they can know about the status of their health through a cloud-based system. A notable example includes CMED which came out of GP Accelerator last year.
Pharmacy Delivery: Companies in this category have developed mobile and web platforms that allow consumers to order prescription medicines online. Bhalo Thakun is one of the companies operating in this space.
Mental and female Health: This category includes companies such as Maya, which enables on-demand information service where users can get advice from experts on health, socio-psychological and legal problems.
Mother and Baby Health: This category includes companies such as Aponjon by Dnet that sends expecting mothers health related content and progress report through a mobile app.
Comprehensive Health Service: This category includes Telenor Health’s Tonic that offers a bundle of service for a monthly subscription fee including health content, over the phone consultation, appointment booking, and insurance and also soon to be launched Praava Health that plans to offer family doctor and diagnostics services along with ERM system and more.
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The list of startups
|Company||Descriptions/Sector||Current Status||Latest Funding|
|Doctorola||Mobile and web platform for appointment booking and schedule management||Active||Series B from undisclosed investors|
|Jeeon||Telemedicine service where Jeeon provides local intermediaries with the training and equipment to facilitate meaningful consultations with remote doctors.||Active||Series A|
|Telenor Health (Tonic)||Started in 2015, Telenor Health uses mobile technology to deliver a host of health services in emerging markets. Launched in Bangladesh, its flagship product Tonic now boasts 3 million subscribers and growing.||Active||N/A|
|CMED||A cloud-based preventative health care service that helps track your basic health data through sensors that can be used to consult a doctor. The startup has a lot to figure out yet.||Active||Raising investment|
|Bhalo Thakun||Bhalo Thakun offers online pharmacy service where you can order and get prescription drugs delivered. The company has also a content component and plans to move to other areas of preventative health care.||Active||Pre-Series A|
|Maya||Maya is an anonymous messaging platform that connects users to experts.||Active||Series A from BRAC|
|Doctorkoi||Offers an ERP based solution to doctors and hospitals to manage appointment and records of patients history as well as a web-based solution to find a doctor and make an appointment.||Active||Seed from GPA|
|Praava||Care at home service, diagnostics facility along with online pharmacy and EMR||Pre-launch||N/A|
|Jolpie||a web and mobile platform that connects patients and doctors. It offers a host of services including appointment booking, take services from a lab, buy medicine, telemedicine, care at home etc.||Active||N/A|
|CriticaLink||connects trained volunteer First responders by using mobile-technology||Active||N/A|
|Aponjon||a mobile phone based mhealth service by Dnet for expecting and new mothers in Bangladesh||Active||N/A|
Stories of a few digital healthcare startups we covered in the past few months:
Healthcare is among the most potential sectors in Bangladesh. While Bangladesh, a country of 160 million population (according to the latest census), has achieved incredible feat in several areas of healthcare including drastic fall of child mortality rate (0.24%), but the country struggles big time when it comes to innovation in delivering healthcare, tackling nutritional problem, lack of knowledge about health and nutrition, and general health care problems. The country still remains among the 57 countries recognized by WHO in 2006 for having a severe scarcity of trained medical professionals. According to WHO, for every 1000 people in Bangladesh, there are only 0.3 doctors and 0.3 nurses.
These are the problem, among others like buying medicines online when you are busy, having hygiene products and contraceptives with confidentiality that you otherwise feel awkward to buy in person, Bhalo Thakun, a part health-tech and part ecommerce startup, based in Dhaka aims to fix.
“Aponjon” is a mobile phone based mhealth service for expecting and new mothers in Bangladesh. What Aponjon does is pretty exciting and effective: it takes advantage of new technology and delivers health care services to new and expectant mother in the form of text and voice messages through mobile phones. The service is now available through Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel and Citycell.
When we first covered Maya in 2012, it was a web platform with a stated vision “to empower women through access to information and a shared community”. Over the past years, the startup has evolved a lot and turned itself into an anonymous messaging platform helping people, regardless of gender, with on-demand expert advice in areas like health, psychology, social problems and legal aspects. You can get information and advice from Maya’s pool of on-demand experts through SMS and app, for their premium service it takes only 10 minutes to get an answer. To know more about the evolution of Maya, BRAC investment, and the future of Maya, we recently sat down with the Founder and CEO of Maya, Ivy Huq Russell. Find a lightly edited transcript of our conversation below.
Doctorola, the health-Tech startup that helps its users in finding appropriate doctors via digital mediums and call center, is now one and a half years old. Over the past years, the startup has evolved a lot, “we have learned an incredible amount, validated many of our assumptions and also found new realities,” says Mr. Abdul Matin Emon, CEO of the company. The company raised a new round of funding later in 2016 and added high-profile names to its team. We recently sat down with the CEO of Doctorola, Mr. Mohammad Abdul Matin Emon to talk about how much one of the earliest health-tech startups of the country has evolved over the past years, growth and challenges of Doctorola, how the startup is doing business-wise and its expansion and growth plan for 2017.
CEO of Telenor Health, Sajid Rahman, recounts his early life and career, discusses the ambition of Telenor Health, its flagship product Tonic, growth of the company, culture and challenges and the future of health-Tech, talks about technology and the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh and reflects on his management philosophy, takeaways from his journey, how he manages his days, and why our life requires a certain sense of detachment built into it to make it worth living.
Each year, millions of people die from preventable diseases around the world. In 2000, in the USA alone, where the level of awareness about diseases exists in a substantial level compared to Bangladesh, half of all deaths recorded were from preventable diseases. Given the level of education and awareness, the statistics which is unavailable, it should be worse in Bangladesh.
CMED, a cloud-based preventive health care startup, aims to tackle this problem with its low cost affordable preventative health care technology.