mClinica – Connecting Healthcare Through Mobile Technology

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mClinica is a diverse and fast-growing company with expertise in healthcare, technology, operations, and data science that is headquatered in Singapore. They provide data, analytics services and patient engagement tools to emerging Asian Markets like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. At mClinica they use mobile technology to connect pharmaceutical companies, physicians and pharmacies to make healthcare better for the patient.

Their management team includes Farouk Meralli, Founder and CEO of mClinica, Bernd Rennebeck (Chief Data Scientist), Will Greene (Chief Digital Officer), Jon Lin (Chief Financial Officer) and Vasil Rusinov (Chief Operations Officer). mClinica even received  ‘Harnessing Data for Resilience Recognition Award’ from USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) for their work in emerging markets

mClinica team

mClinica Team, from left-right: Will Greene, Brend Rennebeck, Farouk Meralli, Jon Lin and Vasil Rusinov

All five members of the management team are talented people in their fields. Among them, Farouk Meralli the CEO, has previously worked at a senior role in several established companies like Sanofi-Aventis, Johnson&Johnson, Pfizer and Roche where he focussed on  product pricing, retail distribution, and patient programs in the emerging markets. I (VB) had the pleasure of interviewing Will Greene (WG), CDO who has five years of experience working with business development for tech and healthcare companies in Asia. He oversees the company’s ongoing research and marketing initiatives.

VB: When was mClinica founded?

WG: mClinica was founded in 2012 by Farouk Meralli, a pharmaceutical industry executive who saw massive data and access gaps in many of the world’s emerging markets. While working for multinational pharmaceutical companies like Sanofi and Roche, he could never find good programs for reaching patients in developing countries at scale. He also had a hard time finding high-quality data to identify opportunities and measure the impact of business initiatives. He founded mClinica to address these challenges and build platforms that improve market efficiencies and patient outcomes.

VB: What are the services that mClinica provide?

WG: mClinica provides data, analytics services, and patient programs to healthcare organizations in Asia’s emerging markets. We collect data that no one else has on pharmaceutical supply chains, patient demographics, and prescribing practices in Southeast Asia. We use that data to provide advisory services and analytics tools to public and private healthcare organizations. We also manage patient engagement platforms that help our clients to deliver access, adherence, and health education programs.

VB: How does your company fill a gap in the healthcare ecosystem in SEA?

WG: Fragmentation in pharmaceutical supply chains creates one of the biggest barriers to efficiency in emerging markets. When medicines are delivered through diffuse networks of small pharmacies, accessing patients at scale and ensuring high-quality standards become extremely difficult. mClinica’s first step towards overcoming this issue was to build digital networks of pharmacies in Southeast Asia. By unifying thousands of pharmacies onto a single platform, we laid the groundwork to collect data and provide patient engagement programs in previously untapped markets.

VB: Could you tell me more about how mClinica collects the health data?

WG: mClinica uses an array of methods for gathering data. Many of our methods leverage mobile technology. By creating mobile applications for health data collection, and providing incentives for pharmacies to participate, we were able to improve visibility in previously opaque healthcare systems.

VB: What type of patient engagement programmes has mClinica helped to conduct?

WG: mClinica’s patient engagement programs allow pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, and other healthcare industry stakeholders to deliver access, adherence, and health education programs at scale. They typically begin with a patient enrolling for a program at one of the pharmacies in our network. The patients opt-in to receive targeted health education messages, refill reminders, and other notifications that ensure they comply with treatment regimens and remain maximally informed about their health. These programs not only help improve patient outcomes, but also generate valuable data about patient treatment pathways and preferences.

VB: What is the business model for your company?

WG: mClinica’s patient engagement programs are typically paid for by pharmaceutical companies. These companies realize that improving access and adherence to essential medicines is not only good for patients but also for business results, so they pay us to implement and manage patient programs on their behalf.

Our data services, which provide valuable insights on market dynamics, are also typically paid for by pharmaceutical companies, but we are increasingly finding interest from providers and public health organizations for our data as well.

VB: What are your future plans for mClinica?

WG: mClinica sees a massive need for better data and patient engagement solutions in emerging markets globally. While we are currently focused on shoring up our presence in Southeast Asia, we eventually intend to take our technologies to other regions, including Latin America and Africa. We are also committed to continuous innovation and constantly exploring new service offerings through our digital pharmacy networks.

VB: What are some tips you will give to young healthcare and med-tech start-ups in SEA?

WG: Many healthcare startups are built around direct-to-consumer models. While some of these have great potential, others have not yet woken up to the importance of partnering with regulators, doctors, and payers, who remain the primary gatekeepers for a wide range of healthcare products and services. In working with them, entrepreneurs should plan for high compliance standards, extreme risk aversion, and really long sales cycles. The good news? These high hurdles also create barriers to entry for potential competitors, so those who can crack the code will have a good shot at strong, sustainable profits.

VB: What do you think about the healthcare ecosystem in Singapore and Asia? 

WG: We believe that Asia presents exciting opportunities for healthcare organizations of all types, and Singapore is an amazing hub for those seeking opportunities across the region. As a Singapore company, we have easy access to many exciting growth markets, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. We already have operations in all these markets, and intend to drive even further afield in the coming years. As we do, we expect that Singapore will remain our base.

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