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Startup Spotlight: US-Headquartered MayaMD Is Introducing Pathways To Eradicate Inefficiencies Within The UAE's Digital Healthcare With the ability to process 8,000 clinical conditions in less than two minutes with more than 90% accuracy, the MayaMD platform aims to help healthcare providers better manage their patients with personalized care programs and engagement solutions.

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Dr. Raju Rhee, co-founder and Director for Growth, MayaMD

This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.

If there is one nation that has strived to leave no stone unturned in its journey towards digitizing healthcare, then it is almost certainly the UAE. A June 2022 report by McKinsey & Co. shows that the combined digital health market in the KSA and UAE will potentially reach US$4 billion by 2026, while another study by Statista shows that the UAE's digital healthcare market will have a projected market volume of $811.30 million by 2028. Aiming to make its presence felt in the midst of this booming sector is MayaMD, a US-headquartered healthtech platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that has now made its way to the Emirates.

"MayaMD is an AI-based virtual triaging (the preliminary assessment of patients that determines the nature and urgency of treatment required) platform that can be used for chronic care management, remote patient monitoring, patient engagement, and post-discharge care," says Dr. Raju Rhee, co-founder and Director for Growth at MayaMD. "We are therefore trying to solve three key problems in healthcare: rising costs of healthcare, shortage of healthcare workforce, and patient engagement. These problems exist in different forms in developed and developing countries. Moreover, many doctors face burn out in developing countries, because of the sheer load of patients, and this also affects the quality of care. We thus started MayaMD to solve all these issues."

Launched in 2021, MayaMD has branches in North America as well as India, with the UAE being the latest addition to its geographical presence. With the ability to process 8,000 clinical conditions in less than two minutes with more than 90% accuracy, the MayaMD platform aims to help healthcare providers better manage their patients with personalized care programs and engagement solutions. A major point of focus for the startup has therefore been to alleviate challenges related to patient engagement. "Modern healthcare consumers expect more personalized, accessible, and responsive healthcare services- this includes digital access to health information, telemedicine options, and more involvement in their care decisions," Dr. Rhee explains. "The healthcare industry has been relatively slow in adopting new technologies that could enhance patient engagement, such as digital health platforms, electronic health records, and AI-based tools. Effective patient engagement requires clear communication between healthcare providers and patients. However, barriers such as language, literacy, and cultural differences can hinder this, impacting patient satisfaction, and adherence to treatment plans. At MayaMD, we believe that embracing digital health can transform patient experiences in improving clinical outcomes, and it is beneficial to the entire healthcare ecosystem."

Source: MayaMD

But while the wellbeing of patients is central to a well-functioning healthcare system, the other two challenges -rising costs, and shortage of workforce- are equally concerning, Dr. Rhee warns. "Healthcare costs are escalating globally, putting a significant financial strain on both governments and individuals," he shares. "This increase is driven by factors like the rising price of medical treatments, pharmaceuticals, and advanced medical technologies. High costs can also limit access to quality healthcare for many individuals, especially in underprivileged or rural communities. Moreover, the global shortage of healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals, has been exacerbated by an aging healthcare workforce, and insufficient numbers of new graduates entering the field. Workforce shortages can lead to increased workloads for existing staff, which, in turn, compromises the quality of patient care, and leads to higher burnout rates among healthcare professionals."

Related: Startup Spotlight: HealthStay Aims To Tap Into The UAE's Burgeoning Medical Tourism Industry

It is to address the aforementioned obstacles that MayaMD has come up with a three-pronged business model. The first of these is a software as a service (SaaS) licence model for large hospitals, while the second is a pay-per-usage model for small clinics. "Under the SaaS model, large hospitals purchase a subscription to MayaMD's services, and pay a recurring fee (monthly or annually) for continuous access to the platform," Dr. Rhee explains. "This provides hospitals with consistent, up-to-date access to MayaMD's AI-based virtual triaging and chronic care management tools. It ensures they have the latest features, security updates, and technical support. The service can also be customized and scaled according to the size and specific needs of each hospital, ensuring a flexible and responsive solution. Small clinics, on the other hand, are charged based on their actual usage of MayaMD's services. This could be calculated based on the number of patients triaged, consultations conducted, or a similar metric. This model is financially accessible for smaller clinics, as it doesn't require a large upfront investment."

According to Dr. Rhee, these two approaches have ensured steady, predictable revenue streams for MayaMD, while also enabling long-term relationships with prominent healthcare stakeholders. "It also facilitates comprehensive integration of MayaMD into hospital systems, allowing for more extensive data collection, and refinement of AI algorithms," Dr. Rhee says. "Specifically with our model for small clinics, it opens up the platform to a broader market, and encourages clinics to use the service more as they grow." Meanwhile, the third and final aspect of MayaMD's business model is a revenue-sharing deal with healthcare providers that is reserved for specialized services like investigations, procedures, and patient engagement modules. "This model encourages healthcare providers to utilize MayaMD's services, as it aligns the cost with their own revenue generation," Dr. Rhee explains. "MayaMD then receives a percentage of the revenue generated from these services. For example, if MayaMD's platform is used to facilitate a medical procedure or investigation, a portion of the fee charged to the patient is shared with MayaMD."

Source: MayaMD

Having adopted such a widely encompassing model, MayaMD has entered into the early revenue stage, with six enterprise customers, in the two years since its launch. "We are also doing some pilots with large corporate players like LG and Nissan Automobiles," Dr. Rhee reveals. "We were a part of the LG Nova program, an initiative by LG that aims to support future-oriented and sustainable startups, and we have also received a grant from Nissan for a pilot project. Already, we have more than 500,000 downloads across iOS and Android platforms. In simplified language, MayaMD functions as a doctor's brain that can be placed anywhere as a digital screen."

As for its entry into the MENA region, it was through MayaMD's participation in 2023's edition of GITEX Global, an annual tech and startup event that takes place in Dubai, that the startup made its way to the UAE. "It was here that we first came to know about the MBRIF Innovation Accelerator program," Dr. Rhee adds. "That interaction at GITEX revealed a mutual alignment of goals and interests between our startup and MBRIF, particularly in fostering innovation in the healthcare technology sector. The MBRIF team's insights have been invaluable in navigating the regional market. Plus, their ability to provide support tailored to our specific needs and challenges has been a significant factor. Their approach goes beyond financial assistance, encompassing mentorship, strategic advice, and operational support."

As Dr. Rhee and his team now hope to expand MayaMD's presence in the UAE and the wider region, they hope to do so by striking a healthy balance between digital innovation and human connection. "The Emirates' focus on innovation, particularly in technology sectors, aligns well with our vision and mission, offering an environment where cutting-edge solutions are welcomed," Dr. Rhee says. "But we also believe that the best healthcare solutions emerge from a harmonious balance between cutting-edge technology and the compassionate, empathetic touch that only human healthcare professionals can provide. At MayaMD, our methods and strategies are geared towards nurturing this balance, and ensuring our technology acts as a tool to enhance human connections in healthcare, rather than replace them."

Related: Enabling Healthtech Is Essential to Attain Future Global Wellbeing

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.


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