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Healee: Transforming healthcare through innovation (Interview)

Healee's Co-Founder and COO Josif Dishliev at Campus X, Sofia
Healee's Co-Founder and COO Josif Dishliev

“The pandemic forced people to look for alternative access to everything. Healthcare was no exception - global telehealth adoption and usage skyrocketed,” shares Josif Dishliev, COO and Co-Founder at Healee, a leading telehealth company and member of the Campus X community.

The company witnessed a 10x surge in telehealth consultations and turned into an undisputed leader in the Bulgarian market.

Today we speak with Josif to learn more about Healee’s journey to success, along with the challenges and leadership lessons learned along the way. Let’s get started.

How and why did you launch the company?

The idea behind Healee stems from a common observation that Hristo Kosev (with whom we co-founded the company) and I had about how things work (or don’t work, in a lot of cases) when it comes to something as simple as people finding and seeing the doctor they need.

I grew up in a family of doctors and it always amazed me how often people actually didn’t have a clue what to do when in need of a doctor.

My parents would regularly get calls from relatives, family friends, and acquaintances seeking advice on who the right specialist is, how to get to them and what to do next.

My partner Hristo had observed the same process, mostly from the opposite vantage point - that of the patient.

In 2017, we founded Healee and set out to solve this inefficiency.

Why telehealth? What challenges do you solve for your clients?

Healee started out as a platform that helped patients and physicians connect and communicate - we enabled patients to find the doctor they need, while physicians had the chance to build a virtual practice and provide online consultations to patients.

Healee's telehealth cover image

Soon after we launched Healee and had the opportunity to closely study how both sides use the platform, we realized there was a clear-cut, largely unmet need for a much more comprehensive solution to enable physicians to provide truly holistic care and cover all steps of the patient journey.

Most telehealth vendors would focus on addressing individual parts of the process, which resulted in a somewhat piecemeal approach and isolated one-off solutions.

We started enhancing Healee to allow healthcare providers to naturally fuse online and onsite care into a seamless, end-to-end patient journey.

Our objective was to cover all steps: from appointment booking, through patient data gathering and exchange, communication via a wide range of live and asynchronous channels, to meaningful post-appointment and follow-up steps.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made this effort and its results all the more relevant and timely.

What was the impact of COVID-19 on your business? What are the main challenges and opportunities?

The pandemic forced people to look for alternative access to everything. Healthcare was no exception - global telehealth adoption and usage skyrocketed.

We had a 7x increase in doctor and hospital registrations and a 10x surge in telehealth consultations via Healee.

More importantly, judging by the performance figures we have been seeing over the last six months, the trend is definitely here to stay as things slowly get back to normal.

COVID-19 also fuelled the demand for Healee Enterprise, our white-label concept where we offer a standalone, fully branded, and customizable telehealth platform to larger players like pharma companies, software providers, insurers.

Despite the marked increase in telehealth adoption, certain challenges remain. We are still facing skepticism on both sides - patients and providers - as to whether telehealth is a suitable care delivery channel at all. On the positive side, it’s much easier to assuage such concerns, now that we have thousands of physicians relying on Healee for their everyday practice, and hundreds of thousands of happy patients.

Healee's graphic image with a patient connecting and communicating with doctors through a telehealth app

Another challenge is that some providers remain cautious of virtual care because of the risk of adding yet another technological and administrative burden to their super busy schedules. To adopt a telehealth solution, a lot of doctors have had to literally become patient trainers - take care of patient onboarding themselves, and train patients how to navigate the often obscure and winding telehealth paths.

We have put extra focus on making Healee as patient-centric and easy-to-use as possible, for patients and doctors alike, to relieve doctors from the need to invest in patient training.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at the company. What do you love the most about your job?

As a start-up, it’s only natural that we all wear so many hats. My role at Healee encompasses multiple aspects, ranging from business development to marketing and sales, business analysis and product development, account management, and support.

So, I can fairly say that I take multiple hat-wearing to an extreme. I don’t mind it though.

There is one common element in everything that I do, that I love a lot - communication, in all its shapes and forms. I find it particularly satisfying when you manage to convey complex ideas in a simple, efficient manner.

On a personal note, I’m a language junkie, and an avid reader, podcast listener, and moviegoer (although the “goer” part has been a bit hard to pull off lately). When I was younger, I was an active skater, so I’m trying to safely rekindle this passion, much to the amusement of fellow teenage skaters.

If you could share with us one leadership lesson that you’ve learned over the years, what’d it be?

To me, empathy tops the list of qualities a leader should have.

One could possess any or all of the other skills deemed important - ambition, drive, self-motivation, resilience, critical thinking, and so on - but without empathy, all these are of little value.

Healee's Co-Founder and COO Josif Dishliev at Campus X, Sofia

What I have seen and learned time and again is that empathy helps you see things as the other person does, which in turn makes it much likelier for you to come up with solutions that all people around you are invested in.

Why did you join Campus X and what do you like the most about your experience?

We have been a Campus X member since we founded Healee.

We are thrilled to be part of a community of other people sharing the same passion and ambition as us. Campus X does not only offer a modern, high-class workspace but more importantly, it allows for close collaboration with a tight-knit community of like-minded talent.

As a Campus X member, we not only have access to a variety of amenities but also to learning resources like online presentations and events, presented by the start-up community which helps us learn best practices, become better, and grow together.

What's next for Healee?

Healee is the undisputed market leader and largest digital health provider in Bulgaria, with a market share of over 30% and steadily rising.

Outside of Bulgaria, we have been witnessing strong traction in the UK with a number of individual providers and hospitals using the platform. We have recently launched marketing and sales efforts, to set foot on the US market as well.

Healee Enterprise, which is unique among competitors in terms of speed of setup, depth of customization, and price, is also gaining momentum. We have had two Healee Enterprise solutions implemented since January, and we are looking at a strong pipeline of four prospects.

We are also working on an innovative and quite unique concept, called Healee Digital Health Protocols, which will allow physicians to arrange the very building blocks of care delivery as they please, to create and offer to patients bespoke digital health products.

This new concept is aimed at making the digital patient journey easier than ever before and helping physicians be even more digitally ready.

Want to become part of a powerful community of innovative tech companies that accelerate their success? Check out our flexible private office plans (with special discounts for startups) and join us.


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