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This digital healthcare platform is empowering consumers is the leading digital healthcare platform in MEA that connects patients with healthcare providers and health services

Amir Barsoum, Founder, and CEO of Vezeeta, a digital healthcare platform talks about how he started working at an early stage and how did the idea come about to launch Vezeeta

Vezeeta is the easiest and fastest digital healthcare booking platform that connects patients to healthcare providers and services. Through their booking platform, patients can easily search and book the right doctor by specialty, geography, waiting time and insurance, then make an instantaneous booking, rate and review the doctors and their healthcare experience.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business? Why the healthcare industry?

It’s actually a question I get asked regularly by entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of starting their business. They want to know how Vezeeta became what it is today, how we fundraised and used to recruit talent or how we became the go-to booking platform in the region.

Founder of Vezeeta, A digital healthcare platform

I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. My dad is the founder and owner of a well-known pharmacy chain in Egypt. For this reason, my original plan was to become a pharmacist and take over his business. But somewhere in between, I decided that I would be well off pursuing my own journey.

It wasn’t until 2011, when I met my Co-founder, Ahmed Badr, and when the idea of Vezeeta started coming together.

Vezeeta is actually built on the idea that healthcare really lags behind when it comes to accessibility and the availability of medical data.

The idea is pretty simple, for every single industry there is the glue that connects different players together. Vezeeta connects Patients to Healthcare Providers. We empower patients in the region to access healthcare through data and digital solutions.

Tell us little more about yourself?

Many people don’t know that Vezeeta is not my first attempt to establish and build something of my own. Before I launched Vezeeta, I started my own Para-pharmaceuticals distribution company right after graduation.

At first, the company didn’t do so well, but then I started to import products for pharmaceuticals and the turnaround really happened and I eventually sold the company.

I then moved to the corporate world as a Management Consultant in McKinsey & Co., where I served several Healthcare and FMCG entities in both the public and private sector in Europe and MENA. Then worked as the Head of Strategy for the Middle East and North Africa in AstraZeneca.

I would have to say that my journey with both were true eye-openers as this is where all the learning and knowledge of the region’s healthcare industry happened.

Can you please tell our readers about your company “Vezeeta” and the services you offer?

Vezeeta is a healthcare booking platform that connects patients to healthcare providers and services. Wherein patients can search for doctors by specialty, geography, waiting time and insurance. Then make an instantaneous booking, rate and review the doctors and their healthcare experience. In other words, what we do is quite simple, but in this part of the world, it is life changing.

We are empowering patients to access healthcare through data and digital solutions.

A digital healthcare platform

On the other side, service providers such as hospitals and entities can integrate with our practice management solution to manage their medical appointments and patient data.

We are building a complete healthcare ecosystem where Vezeeta is the bridge for all stakeholders.

As a result, today, our offering has expanded beyond booking medical appointments. Patients can also book medical services such as teeth whitening and laser sessions and diagnostics (labs and scans) bookings.

What are some issues in the regional MENA health sector that need to be tackled?

The Middle East and Africa healthcare industry has a number of challenges. The most significant being accessing healthcare largely because of lack of healthcare information and technology adoption.

Patients are solely dependent on ‘family and friends’ recommendations when trying to book the right doctor, they spend significant time and effort in research to make sure they get the best medical service. Patients, in general, have to spend up to 5 hours on the phone just trying to get an appointment and almost 3 to 4 hours inside the clinic.

It is estimated that approximately 240Mn hours are lost in waiting in clinics in the Middle East while out-of-pocket health expenditure constitutes almost 53% of the total healthcare spending in MEA region, which is almost 5X of that in the US, our platform is built to tackle accessibility, also we enable patients to search, choose and book the right healthcare provider based on their medical needs through prevailing data. In conclusion, we are aiming to create a patient-centered digital network.

What do you think the impact of Technology in healthcare will be for patients?

Technology has reduced costs, increased accessibility, improved quality and consistency in healthcare, reshaping the relationship between patients and different healthcare providers.

Vezeeta, A digital healthcare platform

With the help of Vezeeta’s technology, patients are able to search, compare, book and review the best doctors in 30 secs, while, doctors can provide their patients with seamless healthcare experiences through our clinic management software, which helps in transforming the patient’s health journey.

How do you ensure your organization is keeping up with the continual advances in medical technology?

Staying abreast of changes and practices in medical technology starts with the skill-set and attributes of people that work in Vezeeta, we acquire talent that is the best in their fields, built and developed a strong R&D function and work smart and we work fast, we challenge every aspect from the way that we operate to the solutions that we offer.

We are not afraid to make changes when needed and operate on a fully-scalable model that has helped us to build an agile structure that allows us to continually advance our technologies.

How many employees are currently working at Vezeeta and tell us about your hiring process? How does it work?

At first, Vezeeta started off with 4 employees and today we have reached 200 across Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Lebanon. Moreover, most of our employees are young entrepreneurs, 67% of our employees are between the age of 25–34.

Vezeeta, A digital healthcare platform

Moreover, our hiring process is definitely very lengthy and rigorous, we assess potential talent on our 5 company values – lead from the front, build on others’ strength, problem solve passionately, synthesize knowledge and drive outcomes fast, these are the values which makes the talent of Vezeeta top-notch.

You’ve been featured by Cairo Scene Magazine as one of the 17 most influential Egyptians in 2017. From who do you draw inspiration, who are the entrepreneurs that have inspired you the most?

Of all the people who have inspired me, I have to say that my dad is at the top of the list, not only is he a brilliant entrepreneur himself but more importantly, he used his genius and dedication to grow himself and his chain of pharmacies.

Another person that has also been a great inspiration is Dr.MagedGobran (may his soul rest in peace), who served as Area Vice President for MENA in AstraZeneca, his 30-years-experience in the pharmaceutical industry across four different continents made him a great mentor and friend.

What are your goals for “Vezeeta” for the next 2-5 years? What technological advancements in the space excite you?

We are after building a very serious regional footprint. We started off in Egypt and are now in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon and are currently exploring new markets in Africa and at the same time, we are exploring introducing other products that can be leveraged on our booking platform.

What do you do in your free time? How do you unwind?

I passionately read. Reading is my real gate away.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs that are nervous to take the plunge?

  • Funny enough, the most impactful lessons have come from my biggest failures so, don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Pivot; never accept mediocrity. Learn by doing; educate yourself, read to trigger your thinking.
  • Build relationships with key people from the industry.
  • Hire talent that can do the job better than you, they will build the company.