Interview with Viktor Tabori, CTO and Co-Founder of Etheal

We had an interaction with Viktor Tabori, CTO and Co-Founder of Etheal about the project in general, his vision and motivation behind the continued effort for its success.

[Dev] Hello Viktor, thank you for your time. Can you tell us a bit about the project?

[Viktor] Etheal tries to build a symbiotic ecosystem which will not only be beneficial to the patients and doctors but also brings a trust into the system that is missing in today’s healthcare ecosystem.

Etheal aim to create a blockchain based global list of healthcare professionals. Patients can search through the profiles of suitable healthcare professionals around the world, indexed by multiple parameters line area of focus, treatment method, peer review etc.

It creates a smart contract driven transparent, transferable trust and review system that the users can trust while deciding the potential targets.

[Dev] What exactly the most important use case that you are trying to solve?

[Viktor] It aims to help patients find trusted physicians who seek medical treatment anywhere in the globe, be it in their local community or in another country. This will help them get the best possible healthcare solution at optimal price.

[Dev] So how are you going to help? Will ETS and ERS play a role here?

[Viktor] ETS is Etheal Trust Score and ERS is Etheal Rank Score. It all comes from Bridgewater Associates, the most successful investment management firm. They basically store and videotape everything and calculate a “believability score” for everyone, which is based on track record i.e. how often were you right in the past and with what type of issues. They are an offline company with offline team members, so they put a great deal into digitizing and analyzing their own actions.

In terms of Etheal, using smart contracts this process is automated by default. Etheal Trust Score mimics believability score, hence it shows your track record, for example if a patient writes a review which gets up voted and is found useful by the community, it earns trust score for the user.

If a patient consistently finds articles useful earlier than others (similar to Steemit curators), then it earns trust. If physician writes an easy to understand content which is well received by the community then he earns trust score because most of the time the biggest incentive for doctors is to impress their peers and build a reputation.

In contrast Etheal Rank Score is a real number, which shows how much value the user provided in total to the ecosystem.

[Dev] What real value addition are you going to do by moving it to block chain technology?

[Viktor] Here moving the reviews to blockchain eliminates the problem that a traditional centralized competitor (e.g. what Zocdoc) creates. A doctor builds his reputation in the platform over a period. But if he stops paying the subscription fees, for his/her profile, the all the work over the time span is lost. All the reviews from the patients are gone in the wind. S/he basically gets tightly integrated with the centralized system. With the use of blockchain, the reviews and scores remain forever and no one can change, remove or manipulate it.

[Dev] And like any other review system, it can also be tampered if you hold sufficient HEAL tokens?

[Viktor] That is the reason why trust is not only stake driven. Etheal trust score is a percentage of how often a user was right in the past weighted by how much stakes the user have in the system. So if you are not truthful in your opinion/suggestion then irrespective of how much stake you have, your trust score will be very low. So the only way to have significant impact in Etheal ecosystem is to be a profile whom others can trust.

[Dev] How the system decides if the opinion or decision of one person is right?

[Viktor] Similar to how bitcoin blockchain is probabilistic, the more block is added to the block where your transaction is included the more probable it is that it won’t change in future. So the longer time passes, the more community members will express opinion about an issue. Thus as more trusted community members express their opinion, the stronger will be the consensus. The earlier you provided the opinion in alignment with the consensus the better “curator” you are. That’s how the system determines if your consensus and opinion is correct or not.

[Dev] Let me make it simpler so that I understand correctly. Assume that there are 100 persons in the system If 51 tell that the doctor is great then they are right (democracy). Now you know better than me the flaws in democracy, isn’t it?

[Viktor] Yes, at the beginning it works based on the principles of democracy. But as people create content, get up voted etc.; their votes become weighted by their trust. So it won’t be democracy, but slowly it will change to a meritocracy based system where a newer member creating consistent good content and contributing to the ecosystem can have a bigger say than an older inactive member with more stakes.

If you are interested to know about Meritocracy, then check the TED talk video.

[Dev] Correct but then the early adopters will manipulate and increase their weight-age in the system. And then it will be very difficult to balance it out. Isn’t it?

[Viktor] It is not just how early you are but how consistent you are. So if you vote for everything then it inflates your trust because from the perspective of probability the more random votes you cast the more probable it is that your predictions will be merely average.

[Dev] So to manipulate the system I will make correct votes in the beginning and influence the system to believe that I am correct. After that even if I up vote a wrong post, system still will think that the post is truthful.

[Viktor] Still time has to pass. So you alone will never able to decide about an issue. Others will cast vote as well and this will help the system balance out against fake consensus. It will take some time to test and fine tune during beta test, but the concept is working for the most successful investment firm ever and they do it in the offline world. Doing it in an automated transparent way leaves room to fine tune it

[Dev] What is the difference you’re trying to make as compared to Steemit? What if Steemit makes a subcategory with doctors?

[Viktor] Pharma in Europe can only advertise Rx drugs in closed forums. So we have to know who is a doctor and who is not. For an example: we helped to create the first classical music talent show in the world 3 years ago. We got more than 100,000 loyal followers for our page and the biggest takeaway was that even though there are countless talent shows, classical musicians are training their whole life and they never applied to any talent show, because it wasn’t for them. They didn’t want to compete with magicians and dancers. When they heard that there is a talent show just for them, more than 1500 applied. So I think physicians are the same. Even if Etheal have been about content only, they would prefer Etheal over Steemit, because it is just for them.

[Dev] However the skepticism comes from the fact that there isn’t much entry barrier for other entrants.

[Viktor] Actually there are quite a lot of entry barriers. Most of our traditional competitors create just a doctor registry, which is easy. They have to acquire a database, list medical professionals by their specialty and they try to sell their service.

But we have a long experience in the price-comparison market. So we list doctors by the services they provide which it is much harder to implement. Nobody does it because these companies get their revenue from doctors. So they don’t care about patients.

[Dev] So Etheal will just create a huge database around which other organizations will grow. How will it work in the Etheal system? Just saying: I will extract all the info from Etheal system but may not use the system for other services.

[Viktor] Etheal is not going to be only a database for patients but a tool and helping hand for medical professionals like a chatbot helping to manage online presence of medical professionals. The database is good for pulling in more entities (patients, medical professionals etc.) in the initial phase. The real value is in the relationship with people are actually using it.

[Dev] True, basically you are trying to build a global brand in world healthcare industry.

[Viktor] Yes. Moreover don’t forget that every week we reinvest in our community, and give tokens back to those who develop the ecosystem. 15% of all payments go into the community fund (Contribution Endowment Fund). So those who build the ecosystem, they get heal tokens in proportion to their contribution which is reflected by the Etheal Rank Score.

[Dev] Who are the potential contributors? Doctors and patients are two entities of your platform. Anyone else apart from them?

[Viktor] Further down the line, 3rd party developers. Compare it with that of SalesForce where other developers can integrate into their system and develop applications around it.

[Dev] How they will integrate to your system? How are they going to bring value? Can you specify 1–2 use cases?

[Viktor] For example, someone can create a chatbot for patients with a specific disease or develop a healthcare fundraising app (think of Kickstarter for healthcare). I have a very good friend who is developing brain electrodes and a system which is basically a living body on a chip. So Pharma can run tests faster and cheaper. He wants to raise around $500k to reach the GoTo market strategy but it is hard because of the country where he lives. In US there are much more biotech investors but the guy just moved back from US as he would like to stay here with his family. He has to make a tough decision: finishing something revolutionary or stay with family and my dream really is to help local communities as well

For example on this page:

You can see profiles of nonprofits. We have worked with nonprofits with our marketing agency, and here they can’t have a proper online presence because of lack of funds.

[Dev] Yes. That is the challenge in many part of the world. So you will make an ecosystem where there will be many facets to it with Etheal at the core of the service. How are you planning to help them out? Financially or by providing a medium?

[Viktor] We thought that we have quite a lot of visits every year. We created a section in our site dedicated to nonprofits and donations. So our visitors can see them, and we provide them a proper responsive profile not the biggest thing, but still some help. It is currently only a medium but with Etheal we can help them financially since a portion of the user earnings from the weekly contribution fund can be offered to nonprofits. This will be deeply meaningful and we can scale it to any country. So that is something what motivates me personally. It is not the money from the pocket of medical professionals. It is from a fund which goes back to content producers and those who help the ecosystem. For example you use Etheal, find a great doctor, write a useful review, and you get a small amount in return from the weekly fund. A doctor writes great content to build up his online profile and if patients find it useful, the doctor gets paid from the weekly fund as an incentive.

I don’t want to state that right from start it is going to be very large amount of money, but it can be meaningful right away and on the long run, it can be very significant.

[Dev] Great cause but that means your system must be ubiquitous to have the kind of impact you expect to have. It is a huge thing to ask. By the way what are your major (potential) revenue sources? How Etheal earns revenue?

[Viktor] The biggest short-term revenue driver is Medical Tourism. It is projected to grow 10x till 2025 and it has grown 10x in the last 10 years so. It is really booming. Since we immensely focused on quality local database, we can create much better service for those who are looking to participate in medical tourism. We will charge medical service providers for leads.

Then the second biggest revenue driver is Pharma communication research and marketing. We won’t sell user data unlike our competitors. We provide a platform for users to opt-in to see relevant ads.

[Dev] A bit details please if possible?

[Viktor] Pharma employs a really old-school tool called medical sales representatives. Pharma pays around $140k / year as salary, and their job is to try to speak as many doctors in a geo location as possible. The doctors most of the cases don’t have time when they work, and they got distracted regardless during work hours due to the visit of medical representatives. So doctors just sign their sheets to get the freebies. Nothing great comes out of this concept.

[Dev] Also the medical reps waste a lot of time waiting for doctors’ appointment during the peak hour.

[Viktor] So this isn’t really optimal. With Etheal for example, doctors can opt-in to see a 3 min video, then answer 2–3 questions and when they finish, they get the freebies plus a cut of the amount paid by the pharma companies. The best part is they can do it when they have time, from their favorite chairs in their homes.

[Dev] Well there is the relationship factor that will be missing this way. The (good) MRs bring that into table. They build a bonding with the doctor and explain a great details about the product. How are you planning to replace that with Etheal?

[Viktor] MRs tend to think that they have a good relationship but in reality they have to visit 10–15 doctors per day so there isn’t really time to develop relationship. In contrast Etheal helps them. So there will be definitely a relationship and Etheal won’t interrupt when they work. We can notify the doctor when demand is increasing or decreasing for her services. When demand is lower, we can just push the doctor to see a movie on a hot summer afternoon. When the demand is higher we can push the doctor to open up a few slots in her calendar.

Pharma companies spend $19 on marketing and communication research for every $1 spent on basic R&D. So this area is going to be the second biggest revenue driver. Physicians also will be able to get a highlighted spot on search results. Because the Adwords bidding model is genius. But it has one fatal flaw: it calculates quality score based on how good a website is; not how well the doctor provides services. But thanks to the Etheal Trust and Rank Score we can achieve that. If someone providing a good service then he has to pay less for getting a featured spot. In traditional settings a lone physician can’t compete with a huge clinic employing a dedicated marketing team. The clinic easily outbids the physician in Adwords as the clinic has a better website and deeper pocket.

In Etheal quality of the service matters and not the website. The doctor doesn’t have to have a deep knowledge in web technologies. They can focus on what they know best: healing people. So they will focus more on providing excellent service and not spending tons of money on building websites and marketing them. So this will be very beneficial for patients.

[Dev] Now the project makes a lot more sense from investment point of view also. And it is always a great project from social point of view also. Really appreciate your patience in answering a lot in details.

[Viktor] I am glad to hear that and I hope that when we reach the milestone of opening up the Etheal ecosystem. You may join us to create awesome tools for physicians and patients.

[Dev] Thank you and all the best for your ICO.

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