New mentor, Dr Mazin Gadir: If you want to build a start-up in health care, come to Estonia
We are very pleased to welcome a new mentor at the Connected Health Cluster and Tehnopol – Dr Mazin Gadir. We had the chance to meet up with him in Tallinn during start-up conference Latitude59 and talk to him about the trends in health care and the start-up scene in Estonia. According to him, Estonia is one of the best places for building a start-up and he is eager to work with ‘hungry’ founders who want to take their start-up to the next level.
Dr Mazin Gadir is Director of Partnerships, Bid Management and Client Relationships at IQVIA Payer Provider Government Management Consultancy. He is also External Advisor at the Executive Office for Organizational Transformation, Dubai Health Authority, with responsibility for health strategy development, implementation, execution and transformation.
He has also led Healthcare Strategy Transformation and Digital Health Innovation at PricewaterhouseCoopers PwC Middle East, Abu Dhabi Healthcare Services Co. SEHA, Cerner UK and ME, accumulating 22 years of experience in the field of health care, innovation and transformation.
What does he think of Estonia and what are his predictions on the future of healthcare? Find out below.
What are the biggest challenges in healthcare innovation at this moment?
First of all, regulation. I think in regulation they are going through a self-finding and self-rehabilitation period. They are now trying to come up with things like a regulation sandbox or a hyper legislation period to try and catch up. Regulation will always be behind.
But I think an even bigger one might be the change management that comes with it – the people’s side. This is becoming increasingly evident when you have pre-millennials. The amount of change and adoption that needs to happen within digitalisation in health care is always one of the biggest opportunities; I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge.
And then whatever comes in governance, patient safety and data governance.
So, these are the three challenges that I see: regulation; people behaviour, change management and adoption; and governance, both clinical and data governance.
In which area in health care do you currently see the biggest potential? What is the next big thing in the upcoming years?
I believe digital is still going to be impressive. That is something that corporations and governments will focus on. Within digital, and I’ve learned this through my Estonian interactions, there are multiple waves. The wave we are currently in indicates that we are going into digital therapeutics. And I think everyone’s focus is on digital therapeutics; everybody has gathered momentum in hospital information systems and electronical medical records and moved into health information exchange in patient portals and registries. Robotics, obviously AI – these are some areas that will drive momentum in health care during the next five years.
There’s a statistic that says that what we learn during the next 5 or 10 years in health care will be 95% new knowledge. So, what we’ve known so far will make up only 5% of what we learn during the next 5-10 years. That is impressive.
Do you see something in the Estonian healthcare system that could be a good example for other countries?
Absolutely. The words that come to mind when thinking about Estonia are ‘transparency’ and what I would call ‘wise governance’. Governance in the sense that the regulator, the government, does not sit and just build bureaucracy and continue living on bureaucracy but always tries to push the envelope.
What I find very interesting in Estonia is how intertwined education and health care are. Specifically in health care because I’ve been in health care for the last 22 years. Estonian education and health care go hand in hand. The universities are feeding into health care, which goes back to universities for help. This creates local talent. I think one of the biggest challenges is talent. This combination of two major industries – health care and education – can help reduce the talent gap, which is a huge headache in all industries.
What is your advice for those who are thinking about building a start-up in health care or are already doing so?
I don’t want to sound biased, but my first advice is to come to Estonia. My second advice is don’t hesitate, do it! I am 43 years old and if I could go back to university and start all over, I wish I would have had the opportunity to work in an ecosystem, in a society of innovators, like in Estonia. If I had this exposure, I might have had a different path. This troubleshooting mentality, the growth mindset that you see now within the start-up community and in the upcoming youth, is overwhelmingly great.
So, as I said, my advice is to go for it, but make sure you are surrounded with a nurturing ecosystem that allows you to follow standards or best practises, to learn from other’s mistakes rather than repeat the same mistakes.
It is also important to find the governance and atmosphere that allows you to grow. That’s why I said Estonia is a great place. You can still go to university and try things and not lose your university degree because that is always a good backup. But what I like is that students within the Estonian education community are very courageous and adventurous in the sense that they will try. And their lecturers and professors are also adventurous. It’s impressive when you have a sense of adventure engraved across the levels of the population.
Last, but not least, find mentors because mentorship allows start-ups to succeed. There’s a large percentage of failed start-ups where I come from because there’s no sponsorship, no guidance.
What kind of start-ups and companies are you hoping to mentor at Tehnopol and the Connected Health Cluster?
The love of my life is always going to be digital health, but by education I’m a quantum physicist. So, one of the areas that I have started to notice is quantum electronics, some of the medical devices that are coming out using quantum theory and whatnot.
Yet I have to say that what I like to mentor is the people, rather than the idea. All ideas are great, but I would love to work with hungry, starving, upcoming talent who are looking to learn from the little experience I have gained during the last 22 years in health care.
I think it’s a reverse valuable ecosystem as well because I learn from the start-ups’ hunger and drive. So, I’m hoping to navigate some of that talent coming out of the Connected Health Cluster within the Estonian ecosystem and internationally.
The Connected Health Cluster led by Tehnopol Science and Business Park is Estonia’s biggest healthcare tech community, uniting health service providers, health tech companies and all other key interest groups in the field. The cluster’s support enables domestic cooperation projects and the export of health technological solutions to other countries. The activities of the cluster are co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.