Healthcare is one of the most complicated and responsive fields in the world. But as for telemedicine, it is terra incognita for all market players. Successful projects haven’t passed the test of time yet, and the legislation in this area may differ a lot from country to country. Viacheslav Potemkin, Product Director at Doctor Smart, shares his opinion about how to develop an international project from the very beginning in such conditions.
I am a certified Agile specialist with 10 years of practice in IT and more than 20 mobile and web projects successfully launched. Speaking of experience, I have more than enough of it. But in terms of telemedicine, I wish I hadn’t had all that experience. We are launching our project in a completely new and unfamiliar market where one has to rely on something else beside the successful strategies that have been used before.
When my old friend Pavel (Pavel Roytberg, the co-founder of Doctor Smart) had had an idea of an international healthcare project, he offered me the position of Product Director. It was very challenging. I saw a project that had great potential to become a part of contemporary daily life—like Uber, cell phones, all the things we hadn’t imagined before they entered our lives and stayed there.
Our main goal now is to teach people how to make use of healthcare services online. When they feel sick, they usually go online and google how to treat cough, insomnia, etc. Who answers their questions? Other users, unreliable doctors, even alternative medicine practitioners maybe. We want to prove that it is possible to get qualified medical support at affordable prices in just a couple of minutes. We guarantee that all the responses from Doctor Smart are provided by certified and reliable doctors.
Further, this service will evolve into the ecosystem with a network of clinics, laboratories and insurance companies in partnership. All the history of patients’ appointments and prescriptions will be stored in a data bank, where the data from portable devices could also be uploaded in the future. It will help the doctors see a complete image of the patient’s health condition, and the patients, in their turn, will be able to get different health care services within one project.
Focus on Agile and team selection
Naturally, we follow the white paper plans. In order to maximize the efficiency, it is also important to be able to respond flexibly to changing conditions. We have a goal set, but we can use different ways to achieve it—this is one of the Agile principles.
How to stay focused amid those changes? Experience and team professionalism are the key. Our founders have a vast experience in doing business and launching IT projects.
The development team must be highly qualified in technical aspects and have broad knowledge of different areas. Their job is not to code blindly in terms of the task that is set before them, but to think how the solution to this problem will help the business. They must also be able to make their competences useful for the project and to give their recommendations concerning the business logic. This is how we make sure that our project is developing in the right direction and matches the variety of potential customers.
We found it out empirically that the optimal strategy is to have one internal team and several external teams of developers. Each team must focus on a single product within the whole project. That’s the only way to ensure that everyone is responsible for their part of work.
Particularities of the global project development
We have followed our own way while observing and analyzing other projects’ experience, so we understood that we had to offer something unique. We made a bid on technology—on automatic quality control of doctors’ work.
Any doctors, even the greatest ones, might make a mistake. Our AI-powered algorithm that supports the process of making decisions on the medical issues minimizes human factors. But it is important to understand that we aim to support the doctors. The system only helps the specialists, it doesn’t do their work. Prescribed medications are checked automatically for compliance with the standards of care and patient’s medical history, and for possible interactions with other drugs. The technology has already been implemented in one of the best Russian private clinics—Medicina. Thus, one of the main advantages of Doctor Smart is using technology to improve the quality of healthcare services.
Our goal is to bring the project to an international level—while our competitors offer local solutions, we aim to provide high quality services worldwide making them accessible, comprehensible, and transparent. This is not my personal Eden maybe, but this is the healthcare that I want for everyone.
On the role of a product director in the team
If I were asked to describe my role in the project in short, I would say—managing the whole product development process at Doctor Smart.
It is 24/7 work, and I’m not exaggerating. One half of my time is dedicated to operations management and working on hypotheses, and the other half is studying my subject. You have to read a lot in order to understand what the needs of people all over the world are: statistics, articles, selection of the most popular patients’ questions, reviews of other projects, etc. You have to constantly broaden your knowledge.
With a pace of life this fast, hobbies are the remedy. Several people from my team and I belong to the same motorcycle club, we like to drive abroad – around neighboring and far-away countries. Shared interests contribute greatly to mutual understanding at work.