Photo: Fleximedical/Courtesy

Brazil's startup Fleximedical wants to offer telemedicine care in remote areas

Part of the District's innovation hub, the company plans its first steps in Latin America

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Brazil‘s startup Fleximedical was born in 2005 incubated by the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre of USP (University of São Paulo), when Iseli Reis and her cousin, doctor Roberto Kikawa, started working on a product to transform trucks and vans into health unit cabins for medical and hospital care in remote areas.

Kikawa was a social entrepreneur in healthcare in Brazil and CEO of the company, and Reis worked as a hospital architect, developing the technical part of design, project, and execution of the units. In 2018, Kikawa was the victim of a robbery and passed away.

It was up to Reis to carry on Kikawa’s story and legacy: providing access to healthcare for populations in remote areas or areas of high vulnerability. She moved from the operational to the strategic, assuming the position of CEO of the startup.

Iseli Reis, CEO and founder at Fleximedical. Photo: Courtesy/Flexmedical

Fleximedical has achieved B-company certification, meaning it follows environmental, social, and governance criteria. “We went through some social business acceleration and startup acceleration processes to grow the company,” Reis says.

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Today, the company belongs to the District’s innovation hub. “Our latest development was telemedicine booths. It seems that telemedicine is democratic, but some people don’t have access to the internet, and besides everything, it needs to be a little more instrumentalized. That is, both the patient and the doctor need access to some minimum data for measuring blood pressure, for example,” she explains.

“The booths come to the instrument and reinforce all this technology.” Fleximedical does the development of the casing and the internal telemedicine software is offered with partners. “These partners end up placing all this internal technology and we make the connections possible”.

In 2020, Fleximedical grew 130% and this year the company will grow 50%, according to Reis. For 2022, the startup is preparing a funding round to internationalize the business in Latin America, starting with Bolivia.

“Some contacts have already been made, some negotiations and some agreements are being outlined. And the idea is, from Bolivia, to expand to Colombia, Central America, and also Paraguay, places where access to health is more difficult,” says the CEO.

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“In Paraguay, there are women who stay on the border with Brazil in labor and when the child is going to be born they rush out to Brazil so that the child is born in Brazilian territory and has access to SUS (Single Health System).”

Fleximedical clients are, in the majority, service-providing companies to SUS. So, for the final consumer, the service is free. These companies already have contracts with the government, state, or municipal, which rent or buy units from the startup to make service programs in these areas with NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations).

Fleximedical also serves the government directly through bidding processes.

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Reis recently won the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Covid-19 Impact Mitigation category by the Schwab Foundation, a sister organization of the World Economic Forum.