MTS and Medsi tap into telemedicine market with Smartmed


Despite being relatively new concepts, telemedicine and digital healthcare have seen some of the fastest growth rates over the past year, as compared to 2012-2017.

Leading telecom operator and digital service provider MTS and private healthcare chain MEDSI, two Sistema portfolio companies, tapped into the segment in April 2018 with the launch of Smartmed, an app providing users access to on-demand online appointments with over 150 medical specialists across 16 practices. These include general practitioners, pediatricians, allergists, ENT specialists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists and cardiologists. For MTS, tapping into the telemedicine market is in line with its strategy to become a leading digital service provider by expanding its range of offerings beyond telecommunications.

MTS recently launched sales of Smartmed subscriptions at its retails outlets. Subscriptions include both around-the-clock appointments via video call with therapists and cardiologists, as well as consultations with other specialized doctors. MTS and MEDSI aim to continue developing the service by adding new specialized healthcare professionals and integrating SmartMed with mobile gadgets to enable remote monitoring functions. To date, 60% of those who downloaded the app have participated in at least one online consultation. The number of users that have made follow-up appointments is roughly doubling every month. General practitioners and pediatricians are the most in-demand physicians, followed by endocrinologists, driven by the substantial number of diabetes patients in need of constant monitoring.

A report by Research and Markets states that the global market for telemedicine was USD29.6bn in 2017 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 19% in 2017-2022. MTS estimates that the Russian telemedicine market will reach RUB18.5bn this year and grow at a CAGR of approximately 30% in 2018-2023, exceeding RUB68bn by 2023.

A number of factors are driving market players to offer telemedicine and digital healthcare services, including the ability to reduce healthcare costs, the enabling of remote monitoring given the increased prevalence of chronic diseases and a shortage of physicians in some areas. Telemedicine provides access to quality healthcare for patients who reside in remote regions of the country, as well as to those who are not able to spare the time for an in-person consultation. It also saves time for check-ups or to review a treatment plan. Having access to on-demand healthcare is expected to gradually transform the way individuals view healthcare and contribute to a more responsible attitude where patients focus on preventive methods and monitoring, which is in line with the goals set by MTS and MEDSI. This is especially relevant in Russia, where 18.5% of the population tend to self-medicate*, while 54.2% only see a doctor if everything else fails to help*.

The companies also see potential in applying digital healthcare to patient rehabilitation through remote monitoring. Physicians can stay in touch with their patients after they have been discharged, monitor their condition and provide timely recommendations for further recovery.

Data security remains one of the major concerns in the field, an issue that was addressed by MTS and MEDSI when building the product. Patient records are transmitted between MEDSI’s data center and patients’ devices using an

encrypted segment of CloudMTS via a secure VPN service.

*Data by Flamp analytics center

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