Etheal suspends future development for global medical tourism
Etheal’s main vision from the beginning has been to “bring transparency to the global healthcare market and medical tourism”.
What we have developed so far remains functional and accessible, but at this stage we cannot plan any further development to realize this vision.
We would like to provide a clear overview of exactly what this means and what led to this decision.
Medical tourism as a target industry
Oxford Economics and VISA predicted a meteoric rise of the medical tourism industry (estimated global market of $50 billion in 2015), which was reinforced by our first-hand experience in one of the hotspots for global dental tourism.
Medigo.com, a Berlin-based startup backed by Venture Capital targeting the same industry, raised €10 million from experienced venture capitalists, giving us further confidence in our chosen industry.
When we launched Etheal’s medical tourism app, listing decades-old clinics went surprisingly smoothly.
Before the pandemic
Cracks began to appear:
- Medigo.com closed its medical tourism business despite receiving €10 million in funding because they could not find a viable business model.
- The industry turned out to be more fragile than expected: We learned that patient leads from well-known clinics dried up completely when the French government disincentivized dental patients outflow.
- Global medical platforms realized lead generation and growth were slow, leading to serious devaluation of companies with $100M investments.
Then the pandemic hit and global travel came to a halt.
We have a clear view of the industry, and it does not look good:
- People are not traveling
- People are not traveling primarily for medical reasons
- Even local doctor visits are down by at least 40%; understandably, if not necessarily, people are foregoing visits to medical facilities.
- Decades old medical clinics that specialized in medical tourism have had to close and lay off all their staff.
Despite promising news about vaccine development, conservative estimates are that it will probably take at least 1 more year for things to return to anything close to normal locally.
The global situation is impossible to predict and plan for because there are too many variables: the actual effectiveness of the vaccine, the manufacturing and distribution capacity of the vaccine, the diplomacy of distribution, the willingness of people to be vaccinated, the duration of immunity to the vaccine, unpredictable events such as mutation of the virus, the varying response to the pandemic, which varies greatly by country and region.
Even though we strongly believe that specialization and medical tourism is/was a great asset globally, we cannot plan to carry on with our original vision.
The legacy of Etheal
We will NOT scrap or close what we have created, our work will remain accessible and functional.
- As a utility token, the ability to use it for physicians to pay for services on Doklist websites that integrate Etheal’s codebase remains.
- Open-source MiniMe HEAL token, which is specifically designed to be easily forked and developed further by the community.
- Open-source compressed global reviews on the blockchain that can be easily translated into any language and freely adapted for new use cases.
At this stage, given the circumstances, we suspend further development to make global medical tourism transparent.