Sajid Rahman, Co-Founder, and CEO, Digital Healthcare Solutions
Sajid Rahman is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Digital Healthcare Solutions and Partner at MyAsiaVC – a venture capital fund.
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Every service these days is going digital. Sensitive issues like medicine and healthcare are also finding their digital alternatives. Today, we introduce you to a person who took digitization of healthcare solutions to a whole different level.
Sajid Rahman is the co-founder and the CEO of Digital Healthcare Solutions, an organization that is a part of the Grameen Group. He is a partner of MyAsia VC, a venture capital fund. He has also worked with Standard Chartered as a banker. He is a board member with several organisations. He runs marathons. He is a writer for several publications as well.
Discussing the origin of Digital Healthcare Solutions, Sajid recalls how Telenor Group, a telco company of Bangladesh, wanted to launch a healthcare business for their customers and they were looking for somebody experienced. They contacted Sajid for the same. The healthcare wing of the Telenor Group saw huge growth and the need for a partner to handle it rose. At that time, the Grameen Group stepped in and took it from trainer health to digital health. It was then rebranded as Digital Healthcare Solutions. It was started with a view to provide people easy access to quality medical consultation by digital channels, medicine delivery etc., later it was expanded and connected with different clinics, hospitals, medical colleges etc. across the country.
Territory and expansion
Sajid says that they are currently working in Bangladesh only, yet, they are willing to expand in similar demographics like Bangladesh since the work style is proven to be effective.
How is Digital Healthcare Solutions different from general telemedicine
Sajid proclaims Digital Healthcare solutions to be no different from a hospital. He says that it is a hospital that has been digitalized unlike other telemedicine organisations. An electronic medical record is created of the patient, it is then used to prescribe medicines, which is further connected to pharmacies to deliver medicines to the patient. They also connect patients to clinics and hospitals where physical care is required.
Major health challenges addressed by Digital Healthcare Solutions
Some of the major health challenges addressed by Digital Healthcare Solutions are diabetes, hypertension, cardiac issues, mother and child health etc. Sajid also talks about how mental health is emerging as a big challenge and how the doctors are being trained to address that.
How emergency cases are treated
Digital Healthcare is quite organized to handle emergency cases. There are protocols every doctor has to follow. For instance, if a person calls and complains of chest pain and the doctor is anticipating that it might be a cardiac arrest, he checks the location of the caller and contacts the nearest hospital to look into the matter. This is how an emergency call is treated.
What areas of healthcare does ‘Tonic’ operate in?
Tonic was Telenor Group’s first customer-facing brand. It was launched with different packages and subscriptions. An individual could subscribe to a particular package and could receive a certain amount of coverage. These packages started from very less amounts like 70 cents per month, an individual holding it could consult from the doctor over phone, could get free medicines and insurance worth 20 dollars etc.
How are millennials and Gen Zs changing the landscape of healthcare in Bangladesh?
Sajid addressed three major points on being asked how millennials and Gen Zs are changing the landscape of healthcare in Bangladesh. First he tells that the younger generation is highly interested in working for mission-driven companies like Digital Healthcare Solutions. Secondly, the older generations might not want to consult a doctor online due to various reasons, the younger generation is helping them to trust and use digital healthcare. Sajid also says that the younger generation has entrepreneurial mindsets and they are also building solutions in healthcare.
Sajid shares how in his banking days he used to invest in different start-ups because they looked interesting. This is how he ended up investing in over a thousand companies. Sajid has observed that the successful startup models from a country often get migrated into another country. He likes to identify them and invest in them. Sajid shares stories of some of his investments that have now become unicorns. First we get to know about a company in Indonesia that is working on building a payment platform especially for the Southeast Asia market. Another company he tells us about is building a supersonic jet that would be extremely affordable etc. he tells us that there are many companies in e-commerce which are becoming unicorns.
In Sajid’s opinion, there are some common mistakes startup founders make. First he says that founders do not have any mentors to guide and advise them. Secondly, he feels that they sometimes overspend in areas where they should not. He also feels that founders sometimes make wrong hires and are too slow to correct that. He also believes that doing many things at the same time also does not benefit the startup founders. He says that they should do things that don’t scale, if they find a sweet spot it will automatically grow.
Sajid Rahman is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Digital Healthcare Solutions and Partner at a MyAsiaVC – a venture capital fund.
Digital Healthcare Solutions provide access to healthcare and health financing to 5m people in Bangladesh. It is a social business chaired by Nobel Laureate Professor Yunus. The company played a crucial role in the response against Covid-19, including testing and managing the national health line in Bangladesh for vaccine-related queries.
Sajid also runs a venture capital fund, investing in top technology companies from Silicon Valley to Indonesia. The portfolio includes Caribou Bioscience ( working on gene-editing technology, CRISPR), Axiom Space (working on commercial Space flight), Descomplica (edtech company trying to replace college education in Latam), Virgin Hyperloop ( underground supersonic transportation), Xendit (B2B payment in Indonesia), CoLearn (edtech in Indonesia), among many others cutting edge companies.
Sajid came to Indonesia 10 years back as a senior leader in Standard Chartered Bank. Before moving to Indonesia, he spent five years in Lagos, Nigeria, to manage Standard Chartered’s West Africa consumer business. After Standard Chartered, he was hired by Telenor ( a Norwegian Telco) to set up the global health business, which is now transformed into a social business under Grameen.
Sajid is currently the independent director of a commercial bank ( South Bangla Agricultural Commercial Bank) and the audit committee’s board chair. He is an advisor at a mental health company in the UK and at the board of other tech startups. He previously served at the board of Standard Chartered Bank in the Gambia.
Sajid is a scholar at the Financial Times Non-Executive Director Programme. This program is a master’s level diploma program to improve corporate governance at large organizations by creating a pool of highly skilled Independent Directors. Sajid also holds a Masters in Commerce degree.
Sajid frequently writes on the impact of digitization and spoke at events organized by Fortune, Financial Times, Royal Society of Medicine, Wold health Congress, Mobile World Congress, etc.
Sajid likes to run, completed a few marathons (including Jakarta and Bali marathons). He spends spare time mentoring young entrepreneurs in their business journey.