‘Doc Finder’ wins digital healthcare contest, takes home $10,000 prize

By Edd K. Usman

An online e-health solution that can “find” a medical doctor after evaluating a diagnostic examination has been proclaimed as the winner in the recently concluded 2016 Digital Healthcare Innovation Challenge (DHIC).

Takeda Healthcare Philippines president and GM Gabriel Georgy (left) presents a $10,000 facsimile check to Sergio V. Arroyo of Ascendant Technologies, which won the Takeda 2016 Digital Healthcare Innovation Challenge (DHIC) in Makati City

Takeda Healthcare Philippines president and GM Gabriel Georgy (left) presents a $10,000 facsimile check to Sergio V. Arroyo of Ascendant Technologies, which won the Takeda 2016 Digital Healthcare Innovation Challenge (DHIC) in Makati City

The winning entry, called the “EMR Doc Finder”, was developed by local IT software firm Ascendant Technologies, which took home the $10,000 prize money that came with the victory.

Takeda Healthcare Philippines, which sponsored the start-up contest, will also provide incubation support and job opportunities to the winning team.

Ascendant Technologies bested nine other finalists — six of which came from the Philippines, two from the United States, and each from Malaysia and Thailand. A total of 21 startups from around the world submitted their entries, which later narrowed down to the 10 finalists.

Sergio V. Arroyo, chairman and CEO of Ascendant Technologies, said in a text message that “digital health is the next big wave in the pharmaceutical industry, ‎and we are fortunate that Takeda has taken the lead in supporting its growth here in the Philippines.”

He said his startup is looking forward to partnering with the Japanese healthcare giant as he cited Takeda for the opportunity to participate in the healthcare contest.

A panel of five judges was led by Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc. president and general manager Gabriel Georgy.

Other judges were healthcare and digital experts Jay Fajardo, founder and CEO of ProudCloud; Farouk Meralli, founder and CEO of mClinica; Dr. Gia Sison, chief medical officer of Global Telehealth; and Dr. Iris Thiele Isip Tan of the University of the Philippines-College of Medicine (UP-CM).

Sison, a cancer survivor herself, said the EMR Doc Finder set itself apart from the rest of the entries because it was “very good in data integration.”

Georgy said Takeda operates in 75 countries but chose the Philippines to hold its first ever e-health startup competition. He cited three reasons for this: the presence of many startups in the country; the proficiency of Filipinos in the English language; and the fact that Filipinos have embraced the digital world.

The executive said the main objective of the startup competition was to find medical solutions that would benefit Filipino patients, particularly those suffering from cancer.

He said the Philippine, being a vast archipelago, has a lot of cancer patients who do not receive diagnosis and treatment. He said reaching patients in faraway islands is the biggest challenge in treating the illness.

“This is what drives us every single day… how to reach patients and diagnose them using digital innovation,” Georgy said.

Cancer cases among Filipinos, he said, is alarmingly high, with a prevalence of 109,280 cases of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma making up 25 percent. He said 56 percent of them are women.

Georgy said making Filipinos aware is also a challenge, citing statistics that show only 35 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed and just 20-30 percent getting treatment every year.

“The patient is at the center of everything we do. Our focus is to reach more patients in the Philippines and we want to be able to leverage digital technologies to get these innovative medicines to patients,” he said.

True enough, the entries suggested technology solutions that covered mobile and web solutions from electronic medical records, to early cancer detection diagnosis, telemedicine, wellness platform, e-prescription, and blood donation platforms.

Takeda organized the event with the technical assistance of TechTalks.ph, a promoter of ICT and startup communities in the Philippines.

TechTalks.ph founder Tina Amper, who cut her teeth in the corporate world in the US before returning to the Philippines, was glad to be part of the initiative to identify outstanding startups in the healthcare industry.

“To help patients is an added bonus,” said Amper, whose group will again lead the holding of the fourth edition of the “Geeks On A Beach (GOAB) international startup conference later this month in Panglao, Bohol.

Craig A. DeLarge, head of Takeda Digital Accelerator for Emerging Markets, stressed the competition’s significance as he noted that people are now for looking digital solutions to address various health concerns.

“I like what I’ve seen. Regardless who wins, the fact is that there has been an explosion of solutions that are now available for Filipinos,” the Takeda executive said.

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