Spotlight Interview: Daniel Branco, M.D., Founder, Medicinia

Daniel Branco

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About Daniel Branco, M.D., Founder, Medicinia

Daniel Branco is founder of Medicinia and investor in other digital health companies such as DrChat. After building the very first medical website in Brazil (an atlas of human histology) back in 1995, he was involved with many health care investment and business development projects, including the creation of the Technology Innovation Center at the Albert Einstein Hospital; Medicinia, an AI-empowered CRM platform for hospitals and health insurers; and DrChat, a pioneering online medical visits platform in Brazil. As a consultant with DMBranco, he developed projects for clients, such as The Economist Intelligence Unit, Medtronic, Bupa, the International Finance Corporation, the Brazilian associations of hospitals and health insurers, other consultancies (including Bain and PwC), and private equity funds, including Angra Partners and Patria Blackstone. He holds a Wharton MBA with majors in Health Care Systems and Finance. In his years as a neuroscientist at Harvard, he developed statistical brain mapping methods for memory lateralization.

About Medicinia

Medicinia is a ClinicalRelationship Management (CRM) platform that improves the patient journey and connects health institutions (providers, payers and payviders) with their communities of patients and doctors. Current Medicinia clients include Bupa Careplus, UHG’s Samaritano, HCor, BP, AC Camargo, Mãe de Deus, São Cristóvão, Mater Dei, CarePlus, Hapvida and others.

Medical Travel Today (MTT):  Explain to us how the digital side of your business model works in terms of finding centers of excellence and connecting with providers.

Daniel Branco (DB): Most of our initiatives are in digital medicine and connecting hospitals, health centers and health issuers with the patient. This platform is very useful for continued care for patients who need help being compliant with medications, getting diagnostic exams, following up with the doctor and so on. It’s similar to a customer relationship management (CRM) network but we also provide a CRM platform.

We follow along with the patient journey after they are discharged from the hospital. While it can be helpful for medical tourism, it works for any patient who has left the hospital setting but still requires care coordination.

Many patients who travel to centers of excellence require this level of follow-through, so this is a great benefit. Who uses the platform and how does the connectivity work?

Sometimes it is used by the hospital administration to connect with the doctors. For the doctor it’s more like a productivity tool. The doctor gains visibility into patient records and results and can interact with the patient from any location. In addition to personal contact, the care team can use the platform to interact with the patient whenever necessary, rather than waiting for rounds. This makes it a good patient engagement solution.

Traditionally patients have been mostly passive about their care in the hospital, waiting for the doctors to show up. These days, patients want to be more involved in their own care and gain a better understanding about what is going on with their health. Our platform allows patients to access their results, see their prescriptions and read their chart summary. After the patient goes home, they can continue to use the platform to interact with their doctors, hospital staff or other professionals, such as a specialist or nutritionist.

The platform works for patients whether they have traveled for care or spent time in their hometown hospital, making this an incredibly useful platform.

When I was living in Brazil, my son had to be treated in New York at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I used to interact with the doctor via email and it was challenging because I had to log on to the secure e-mail system, which was not user friendly at all. This is where I got the idea for Medicinia.

So where is this platform currently being used?

The company provides a platform of products and services developed according to the needs of the local hospitals in Brazil. In the United States, we provide patient journey services. These are technology based, but rather than a single product offer to the entire market, we customize a patient journey solution for specific clients in the United States.

We have just started the process of expanding to the United States and our most important client is BUPA, an international company that has an operation in Miami that handles cases that come from countries in Latin America where BUPA operates. They have a team in Miami of about 40 to 60 doctors and other professionals. They triage the cases and decide if they’re going to authorize a procedure in the United States or not.

This is a highly manual process, so we help them transform that process into a more sophisticated automated patient journey experience using a chat bot and artificial intelligence (AI). While that’s not a product that we offer to the market as a whole, we did develop it specifically for BUPA.

So this really has an international flavor, as well as domestic. What has been the experience of the patients?

We helped a health system in Brazil to track pregnant women, which is especially helpful for women giving birth for the first time. They are unfamiliar with what to expect in terms of symptoms and knowing when the pregnancy is normal or when they might have to seek treatment.

In Brazil, if you have a headache, for instance, you might go to the emergency room because, unlike in the United States, urgent care clinics are still relatively new there. For our clients, we were able to reduce high utilization of emergency room and hospital visits by offering the opportunity to interact with the medical team online through our platform. This reduced visits to the emergency room by 56%, especially for pregnant women, which was a direct benefit for the patient.

That’s very important and it’s a very interesting observation, too, that we have that sort of stop gap with urgent care. Where do you see your company going, and where do you expect the most growth?

We are already looking at two different markets–Brazil and the United States—and have different approaches for each. In Brazil we anticipate that we are going to expand from health systems and hospitals to provide health management for employers. Health cost is a big problem for employers because most of the time the health insurance system is inflated, which raises premiums for employers. We are in the process of providing online healthcare, health management tools and medical services for this population. We’ve launched DrChat in Brazil.

We are focused on building a universal solution that can be scaled up to many clients. We don’t know exactly where that’s going to take us, but we see companies that, from what we’ve seen, are probably going to go in the health management direction as well. We may provide ACOs with more resources to follow their patient. We also expect to play a role in the value-based movement and in the hospital to the patient’s house, where we’ll connect home and health systems.

We are also considering starting a third-party administrator (TPA) in Brazil for companies that want to self-insure, because no TPAs exist in Brazil at the moment.

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