dfsdfs2005-ös cikkek 2005. február 3. - Budapest Business Journal Healthy circulation Bringing a long-cherished dream to life, a medic offers a system for transferring diagnostic data over long distances Armed with “Mona-System,” an IT system that can link up patients and medical professionals across long distances, a local entrepreneur expects to reduce health risks, save public money – and make a profit. “There are about 25,000 avoidable early deaths in Hungary each year due to the slowness of the health service, which results from the lack of a well-organized overall infrastructure,” says László Zsonda, founder, owner and managing director of Mona Trade Bt, the company providing the medical consultancy IT system. “Lives would have been saved if those people had been transported to the nearest well-equipped hospital, or their health data had been available immediately so a proper diagnosis could have been made,” he maintains. “Besides, delays can cause permanent disability in certain cases – such as heart attacks – which mean huge losses for social security institutions and the national economy,” Zsonda says. “The widespread use of Mona-System could save 10%–15% of Hungarian healthcare costs, because the system cuts the cost of surplus transportation, repeated examinations and the physical handling of patients’ data.” Mona-System bridges the gap between patients and health professionals, and between different hospitals, by transmitting data in compressed digital format with the help of simple tools and via traditional communication channels. Zsonda says the system can generate profit for hospitals and doctors connected to it, as well as for its operator. He claims Mona-System is able to convey data through the internet from any diagnostic equipment, be it X-ray photos, cardiograms, still or moving pictures, or analysis results. That can eradicate the need for specialist doctors – together with their sometimes expensive and complex equipment – to be on the scene to make their diagnoses. Zsonda points out that the system allows hospitals to make more money. “Examinations are paid for by the procurer – the social security system – so more examinations mean more money,” he says. “The same is true for doctors. Specialists in remote places become accessible, and get paid for their expertise.” Zsonda even proposes that a virtual hospital should be set up with the help of his system. Professionals would consult the results of examinations carried out on patients in remote countries. “The best possible professional would be available for the patients – quickly. And hospitals in countries with higher wage levels could send data to be evaluated in countries with cheap labor, reducing costs,” he explains. Hoping to flourish Zsonda initially created the system on commission from the Health Ministry in 1999. “I offered the copyrighted system to the Hungarian state free of charge. Hospitals only pay Ft 50,000 a month as an operational fee,” he explains. “Already 100 hospitals in Hungary are connected to the system, and even this low fee makes the system slightly profitable.” The system has been operating in test mode in Hungary since 2003. Based on positive feedback, Zsonda says, the product is ready to be sold worldwide. Indeed, it is already being exported to some extent. “We tested Mona-System in a U.S. health center with 30–50 peripherals connected to it for two years. I signed a trial contract, and real operation starts in February,” Zsonda says. “If the buyers are satisfied, a dozen institutions will shortly join the system.” Zsonda expects this project to bring the company around Ft 1 million (€4,050) net profit a month during the trial period, and Ft 15 million–Ft 20 million a month in the second half of 2005. Other U.S. hospitals have signaled that they are interested in Mona-System, as have institutions in countries including the U.K., Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Pakistan, Zsonda says. Zsonda also maintains that the system’s ability to function in remote places, far from laboratories, makes it suitable for use on oil rigs and private yachts, for shipping companies, or for people undertaking expeditions. “Tens of thousands of commercial and private ships are operating without laboratories thousands of miles from land. It is essential for them to get access to expertise, or be helped and coordinated by professionals in emergency cases,” he argues. The system was offered free for emergency teams operating in Indonesia after the deadly tsunami in late December 2004. Mona-System helped the work of doctors in remote places, and identified the deceased. Home treatment But in addition to international sales, Zsonda also avows an ambition somewhat closer to home: to implement his system throughout Hungary. “Only Ft 4 million–Ft 5 million would need to be invested in each county, and it would return in less than a year,” he says. “If neither the state nor private companies invest in it, I’ll do it on my own, though that may slow the expansion.” In addition to hospitals, Zsonda says, family doctors and citizens could also be connected to the system, thus integrating even more customers. “Sixty percent of basic medical services in Hungary – I mean family and local doctors’ services –are already compatible with Mona-System, so no special tools are needed for the connection,” says Zsonda. “The system is cheap to run and compatible with any digital equipment – including thermometers and blood pressure gauges – and any platform on the market.” Family doctors can feed patients’ data into the system for a monthly fee, or patients can submit their own data obtained using digital medical equipment or a special wristwatch, already available in Hungary, Zsonda says. So far, 1,000 patients have been registered as users of the system in Hungary. Organic growth The idea of Mona-System evolved in Zsonda’s mind over the course of many years. “I was working as a pathologist in the second half of the 1970s, when I realized we needed a database to store patients’ data. Then I carried on as a physician, when I met the same problem again, along with the inadequate organization of health infrastructure,” Zsonda recalls. Zsonda believed his idea would reduce the operational cost of hospitals, by making knowledge available for as many people as possible. After working in U.S. hospitals, Zsonda returned to Hungary in 1993 to develop the system he dreamed of. Mona Trade Bt was founded, and three full-time IT engineers were hired to put Zsonda’s ideas into reality. The system is made up of three parts. First, they had to develop a laboratory consultant system. A cardio consultant system followed, and finally a picture managing system. Zsonda introduced the working system to the then health minister in 1999, upon which he was granted a subsidy of Ft 8.8 million to help continue the work. However, the development of the software and some hardware and peripherals cost around Ft 45 million, Zsonda estimates. Zsonda says the funds came from his own savings, mainly from the money he earned while in America. He never applied for a bank loan to support the development. The company reached total turnover of Ft 15 million–Ft 16 million in 2004. So far, all the revenue has been recycled into the project. However, the money invested in the enterprise has now been returned, and Zsonda expects profit this year. The product has won several prizes at international exhibitions.