The international health sector is evolving as innovators mix tech solutions with healthcare, but in Egypt the shift to even partially paperless medicine is still but an ambition.
After working in a medical outsourcing company Mahmoud Kamel and Ahmed Hassan decided to launch their own company Winex, a data management software provider for medical businesses, in 2011.
The software is a tracking system for patients and logs all interactions they have with doctors and centers that use the same software.
Kamel said that in the US the government set regulations that require hospitals and doctors to keep records of all their dealings with patients, but in Egypt those systems depend on the doctor’s desire to implement them or not.
The launch of Winex
The idea of the company was born in 2009 and by 2011 it was officially registered with a total investment of EGP 250,000. The first project was to build a medical filing system for Al-Durrah Hart Hospital in Misr Al-Gedida, in Cairo.
They went on to create similar systems for Al-Aseel Hospital in Hurghada on the Red Sea coast, followed by another in downtown Cairo but soon realized that their service was better placed for private clinics and medical centres.
“Each hospital has its own system so it was difficult to create a standard system and use it for all hospitals,” Kamel said, adding that it was not time or cost efficient for them to try to bring the hospitals into the Winex system.
Winex now has clients in Cairo, Sharm El-Sheikh, Luxor, Alexandria and Hurghada.
He said that despite competitors having “big investors”, those rivals faced challenges as they “did not understand the mentality of Egyptian doctors”.
Winex build certain aspects of the specifically to cater for situations arising from the Egyptian medical sector.
“For example, the medical filing systems helps facilitate accounting processes,” he said (right). “It can help doctors when they deal with insurance companies.”
He explained that collecting money from insurance companies can be a “dilemma” but the system can save doctors the hassle and make it easier to record and reclaim.
How to stand out
Winex did not restrict its business to patient filing systems, however.
In July 2014, it launched the 4nono application for mother’s and children’s health. The application was launched for Android operating systems and has an yet-to-be-updated app available for iOS phones, both of which will be updated in February 2016.
The application has four main sections: children’s nutrition, education and upbringing, health, and skills development. Users submit their questions on the application and receive an answer either for another user or from a doctor.
The bumpy road to success
Launching a company during the political and economical instability in 2011 can influence its development and Winex was no exception. Kamel said the company had struggled to generate a profit.
“Whatever profit we generate is enough for the continuation of operation and to develop that company,” Kamel said.
On what ideas the company wants to develop, Kamel said that he “wanted to create a medical file that can be transferred from one doctor to another”.
He said one problem the company was facing at the moment was that if a patient decided to change doctors, his medical data would be lost unless the new doctor used Winex software as the software was only available to medical professionals and not the public.
Kamel said that he would like to create an application for patients but financial constraints were hindering this process.
Another struggle was the lack of regulations in the health sector and the turnover rate for doctors was high.
“No regulations are set by the government for doctors [that require follow up files for patients],” Kamel said.
“[And] doctors would get bored [of filling in the data] and quit.”
The 2020 goals
Discussing his future goals, Kamel said that he would like to provide the medical filing system to 1,000 clinics within the next two years.
The company has started marketing itself in Gulf countries and hopes that by 2020 it will be present on the ground and providing its patient profile to three countries.
Hopes for the 4nono application are as high. The company official said that the company aims to make it a “worldwide application” available in both Arabic and English and for all mobile operating systems. He said the target for downloads was 10 million, of which two million would be from the Gulf.