First Prize as the Best Application for Managing Open Data from the City of Rome
Winner of the FIware Open Call on Innovative Services for Healthcare and WellBeing
Named as one of the Top 10 Most Promising Startups by Wired magazine
Awarded Best Application for Italian Medicines by the Mondadori Group
First Prize at the Digital Pharma Awards as the Best Application for Doctors and Pharmacists
People turn to the Internet to solve health problems. ‘Health’ and ‘medicine’ are the 2nd most searched for topics on Google. Citizens need access to a reliable online source of official health and medicine information. Governments need help making public data and services available to citizens anytime, anywhere. Healthcare providers need new tools to compete in the digital healthcare revolution. That’s why we built Pharmawizard - a digital healthcare platform of virtual services that empower citizens to better manage their day-to-day health by providing personalised, official data on medications and preventative care.
We are DataWizard Srl – a team of 21 people passionate about innovating digital healthcare in Europe. We are a mix of developers, data scientists, designers, pharmacists, marketers and leadership. This is our story so far…
DataWizard was founded in Rome, Italy, in 2012 by two renowned entrepreneurs – Francesco Romano Marcellino and Massimiliano Magrini – who have extensive leadership experience in ICT and Healthcare industries, previously serving in high-level management positions in companies such as Altavista, Google, IBM, Oracle and PricewaterhouseCoopers for the last twenty years. Starting with a humble team and a big vision to be the global leader in mobile pharmacy services, they started developing the Pharmawizard platform and and closed their first round of Private Equity Seed funding in March 2014.
In response to the information gap between public institutions, professionals and patients, the original goal of Pharmawizard was to be a set of digital services that deliver Third Party and Open Data from official, up-to-date medical datasets in an innovative, user-friendly, personalised way. By using a hybrid technology approach that draws on a Semantic Search Engine, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning, Information Retrieval and Ontology-based techniques, users can quickly extract targeted data by typing a drug name, active ingredient or symptom, and the system, by learning over time, continuously improves its search engine’s performance. The importance of good UX design was never underestimated and the platform’s design was informed through an intensive study on usability based on direct feedback from end-users.
In September 2014, Pharmawizard 1.0 web & mobile apps were launched in Italy with a B2C model and received a very positive response including the following recognitions in the first year:
Thanks to a growing team of talent and promising reputation, DataWizard was selected to receive European Funding (H2020 SME Instrument Phase 2) in November 2015 which would enable accelerated development of new features and internationalisation. With a team of 7, Pharmawizard 2.0 mobile apps with Premium Features were launched in Italy in January 2016. Shortly after, Datawizard opened its first international branch office in London, UK, with a vision for Fast Medicine Delivery.
We designed Pharmawizard with a B2C model because our true mission is to empower citizens with access to meaningful information about their health. But the problem of “Who will be the first to pay?” quickly emerged and we could not define a clear solution for commercialising this model. Citizens, especially in Europe, are not willing to pay for a health service that they expect from a public healthcare system. Therefore we transitioned to a B2B2C model and began offering a set of useful and scalable services for healthcare providers to better manage patient care.
In the year following, the DataWizard team corresponded with more than 400 stakeholders in the healthcare industry - a mix of pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, pharmacies, healthcare assistance providers, doctor associations, patient associations, consulting firms, and public entities meeting multiple times with many of them. We started with pharmaceutical companies but learned quickly that most of them were not prepared for the digital health revolution and were not ready to take action. This experience, however, prepared us for our next phase of outreach when our focus would shift to insurance companies offering wellness and health insurance and who were well-positioned to lead in the digital healthcare revolution. Today, we see insurance companies demonstrating their capacity to respond to these new market demands. Currently they are in the piloting phase for validation, so it will take time, but we see them as major influencers and leaders of this market transformation.
From our experience communicating with so many stakeholders, we have achieved a profound understanding of the true state of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in Europe today – we have become experts. Who else has had the chance to speak with all these stakeholders across different ecosystems in the healthcare environment throughout Europe? We have gained a unique knowledge base and this is significant especially considering that we started as a new player - a startup company with little experience in the industry. In our company pitch, we give an empowering snapshot of the state of digital healthcare today and where it is going, and this represents the rich input from diverse sources we have collected since the initial launch of Pharmawizard.
In October 2016, we closed our first B2B2C contract for White Label services with an Italian Healthcare Insurance Assistance company, which was about 6 months after receiving a second round of Private Equity Seed funding (Convertible Note). Since that first contract, we have closed 8 other B2B2C contracts with insurance companies, consulting firms, healthcare assistance providers, and pharmaceutical companies. Our team has grown to 21 and we have forged strategic partnerships with many healthcare stakeholders internationally including with AstraZeneca (Sweden), LEO Pharma (Denmark), About Pharma (Italy), Lancio/FarmaSalus (Italy), Healthware International, iHealth (France), KNOK (Portugal), BioBeat (Israel), and Giomi DE (Germany).
Since 2017, we have launched a number of new features and Apps including:
PharmaHealth Android app in Italy for home health monitoring / device integration
PharmaNow.com - Online Pharmacy and eCommerce Home Medicine Delivery in Italy
Pharmawizard 2.0 mobile and web apps in Spain
Pharmawizard 2.0 web app in Italy (optimised search features)
Telemedicine feature for Pharmawizard Spain, a collaboration with KNOKcare
In October 2017, we were the only Italian company selected as a winner of the Data Pitch Competition UK for Open Data Institute's Accelerator Program. We are currently engaged in negotiations with other insurance companies in Spain, France, Italy and the UK. We are aiming to close new SAAS contracts with large companies and forge other industrial partnership collaborations in order to enhance our platform of virtual services with physical services such as at-home doctor visits. Today we are active Italy and Spain. In the near future, we foresee launching in Germany, France, UK and other EU countries.
There is a growing ageing population in Europe and the average lifespan of this population is increasing. There is a growing gap between the health needs of this population and the capacity of already burdened public health systems are able to respond. This gap is from lack of economic and technological resources and has been well evidenced and documented throughout Europe already. How will we sustain this scenario? We are seeing that private healthcare players, such as insurance companies, see this gap as an opportunity and are joining the game in two particular ways: 1) by providing self-empowerment health services to their customers in order to help them resolve minor health issues without going to the hospital, to the doctor, etc, and improve overall preventative care; and, 2) by offering stand-alone healthcare service packages to people that do not have private health insurance so that they can supplement the public healthcare they receive with access to these services. Some of these services, in particular those related to data, are scalable at an exponential level without incremental costs – a significant benefit to companies that serve millions of clients. Pharmawizard is a platform of primarily virtual services and therefore we have been greeted with great enthusiasm when we present to these insurance providers looking for scalable solutions. We provide a way for technology to make systems more efficient to save costs of citizens and their health insurance companies, providing scalable health services that increase prevention and a country’s overall state of health.
When we, or our clients, provide useful self-empowerment services to citizens/customers, we get data in return. By analysing this user data in accordance with the GDPR framework, it is possible to personalise and better respond to each users’ needs, therefore increasing the chance for users to buy (conversion). In the case of health services, users that become more informed and engaged with their own health and healthcare reduce their risk of disease, the need for emergency care, etc. This in turn lowers health insurance company expenses. Health insurance providers in the United States have exploited this model by incentivising preventative care with their members which then keeps their costs down. We see this as the future of healthcare in Europe.