"Yesterday": Three weeks ago we asked a donation platform when our solution was needed. Showing great belief in our solution but recognising the urgency of implementation, their response was "yesterday". We've continued to receive the same level of overwhelming support each of the countless interviews we've conducted since, with experts from across the EU.
Healthcare providers need medical equipment urgently and suffer from the lack of supplies. Manufacturers and existing suppliers are overwhelmed with the demand and a number of new manufacturers are repurposing their production lines or starting from scratch to join the market. On the other hand, fundraisers struggle to procure medical equipment and match them to institutions who need funding and support the most. With the sudden emergence of many charitable organizations aimed at the funding and procurement of medical supplies, there is a lot of miscommunication and overlap in orders leading to high costs and hospital PPE and equipment requirements not being fulfulled in time.
The main problem that sits in the middle of this is the lack of reliable and up-to-date data on : (i) the healthcare providers' realtime needs, (ii) on the available and legitimate suppliers, and (iii) all the existing donation campaigns, funds and charities working on these efforts. Right now, this is a global problem, shared between the most and the least developed countries in the world.
As a team with significant exposure to the realities of different healthcare systems, we know that this is a symptom of a deeper, chronic problem - lack of data availability in healthcare, especially when it comes to donations and crowdfunding. Donations are often the preferred method for medical devices procurement as this avoids a long-winded process. In many cases, due to budgetary constraints of the government and economic situation of hospitals, this is the only available way to procure the needed supplies or equipment, including in some EU member states.
Governments are focused on the digitalisation of their healthcare systems but the donations and charity-driven portion of the procurement process is usually outside established mechanisms, related to public funds spending.
This means that: a) there’s less institutional focus on solving this problem and b) there’s an opportunity for an independent solution to step in and take care of the digitalisation of the data on healthcare supplies and equipment procurement for this specific niche.
With hundreds of billions of EUR donated to healthcare worldwide every year, solving the data scarcity problem in this niche carries the potential to optimise and accelerate distribution and elevate the quality healthcare at a significant scale.
What it does
Aidbind solves the information gap between the demand, supply and funding of medical products, procured via donations and charity.
We are creating a service to collect, provide and analyse the vital data points of the three key participants in this chain:
- Healthcare providers (Hospitals and other medical facilities) - their current needs for medical supplies and equipment, that are not covered in the existing local healthcare system [i.e. demand]
- Suppliers and manufacturers - details of the products they provide, stock, manufacturing capacity, certifications, location etc. [i.e. supply]
- Fundraisers, charities, donation campaigns - their areas of operations based on location, type of supplies or equipment they are focused on, types of hospitals they target, amount of funds available and amount of funds looking to raise [i.e. funding]
This is achieved through:
- An online information platform for data display as well as data collection
- An operations team tp establish the needed communication channels and data collection mechanisms from telephone and email, moving to in-built submission forms/ apps.
Immediate value In the next 6 months, focus will be on COVID-19 related supplies shortages (mainly PPE).
Use cases include:
- Healthcare providers - increases the chances of getting the needed supplies in time and eliminates communication overhead
- Fundraisers - eliminates the burden of manually collecting this information, reduces miscommunication between fundraisers and charities. Decreases time spent on vendor research.
- Suppliers, manufacturers - data available for better demand planning and new customer market discovery.
Long-term *Covering a wide array of medical supplies and equipment, beyond PPE, and reaching increasing number of healthcare facilities, funds and vendors globally. *Providing both current and past data for reliable demand and supply planning to all participants to optimise the medical equipment supply.
How we built it
We've assembled a team of 9 people who believed and worked on this project over the course of 2 hackathons. We've built our project around three main principles:
- Solve real problems - e.g. make a framework for data collection and management that can handle and include healthcare providers with minimal to no digitalisation in their procurement and stock reporting processes.
- Build quick, prepare to scale - use technologies for the digital platform that require minimum resources, but are agile in their scaling capabilities.
- Be sustainable - define customers and find the places where we can bring economic value to them, and start a business plan that puts us on the road to sustainability.
And that's what we did:
Problems and solutions research
- Conducted interviews and research with healthcare professionals - hospital directors, doctors, nurses, healthcare consultants * and analysts across 5 different countries
- Conducted interviews and research on fundraisers and their current problems and needs
- Conducted interviews and research on vendors and suppliers globally
Set up data collection
- Built a database of hospitals and supplier contacts via research, networks at the hackathons and work with fundraisers
- Set up the tools needed to collect and use the collected information
- Reached out to a sample of the contacts and tested our initial ideas. *All stakeholders confirmed this data platform would be useful to them and explained their current processes and challenges
- Used feedback to build our prototype and a future project roadmap.
Built the tech demo
- Defined the data model and built the database infrastructure - a lean solution using Firebase
- Front-end prototype - built over 2 days - used real data collected in the previous step
Built a business model
Link to our progress on the business model: Roadmap and financial needs
- Built a financial model and assumptions sheet to estimate costs and cash inflows, to then determine the immediate to short-term cash needs
- Collected market data and cpnducted interviews to verify key assumptions are accurate and realistic for this market.
- Conducted research and interviews to build cases for future monetisation options and for longer term success and value generation.
Challenges we ran into
While we have solved data availability problems for other industries, healthcare is an extremely complex and broad topic that requires significant research. We've collected thousands of pages of research material that we've been going through, to familiarize ourselves with all aspects of the lack of data issue we tackle.
The people on the forefront of the crisis are overwhelmed and hard to reach and we recognised that we need to respect their time and immediate priorities. This resulted in some slowdown in getting the information and user perspective we needed for further development of the project. We were fortunate enough to be able to expand the circle of interviewees through the network we formed at this hackathon to obtain a few more interviews but will continue to gather more information as this project evolves.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Finalist of the Bulgarian COVID-19 hackathon, earned cash prize and non-monetary support
A number of key participants shared their enthusiasm to work with us and share their data which was very valuable to us. These participants included:
- 3 of the fundraising projects in Bulgaria
- A medical equipment supplier with international footprint
- Hospital directors and expert medical staff from 3 different hospitals
- Grew our team 3x since we started.
Gained incredible insights on the market space and the supply-chain issues in very short time.
The project has been overwhelmingly supported and validated by multiple other expert advisers in pharma, business development and financing.
What we learned
All team members of Aidbind were able to grow their area of competence by participating in the whole process of idea definition, market research, validation, prototyping and presentation. Through different mentor sessions we learnt that problems could be approached by many means, but most importantly our mission should be clear.
What's next for Aidbind
Committed to the mission
Our team has not only got the enthusiasm and passion, but the cross-sector, cross- specialism and cross-region experience and expertise to bring Aidbind to the world.
To build and support the needed team and become a sustainable service bringing global value, we need financial support from private and/or institutional sources and have made financial estimates of our needs through detailed calculations. Details on the roadmap and financial needs: Roadmap and financial needs
We recognise that charities, NGOs and governmental institutions involved in healthcare donations are the key source of contacts and data, so we are looking to establish key partnerships.
Our team is here and working hard around the clock - there is continuous research & development happening on the platform, the business and operational plans, and through our established contacts.
We strongly believe our product will help provide medical equipment donations more efficiently and cheaply to where they are needed most, to take us through this crisis and beyond! We hope you will help us get there.