MedGizmo - Iran – a New Healthcare IT market?
18.01.2016, 11:46   MedGizmo

Iran – a New Healthcare IT market?

There is a lot of talk about US lifting sanctions from Iran, and of course, and speculations about opportunities for international companies in this new (for them) market. Quite naturally, IT companies are looking with expectations, as well, as companies that are involved in wearables.

It has been anticipated situation – just look at this Reportlinker release in December 2015: Impact of Lifting Nuclear Sanctions on Iran's Healthcare Market--Now and Later

Indeed, despite sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear energy program, Iran has made significant achievements in the health sector. According to 2014 statistics released by several international scientific centers, Iran ranks 18th in terms of scientific production in medicine in the world.Moreover, Iran plans to establish its first special economic zone for the production of high-tech medicines for refractory diseases

Interesting note is made in a report by "International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights"
"... Currently, the equipment and devices of treatment, medicines and other basic needs are under sanctions too, the same as automobile industry equipment or the sale of petroleum products, though apparently it is  not like this. Actually, the medical  equipment are not under sanctions, but it is sanctions on banking system that has made  them difficult to be imported. And the only objective of this sanction is damaging people..."

This fact is observed by many experts: “…a burgeoning ~80 million population has put strains on infrastructure which require upgrades, and there is significant demand for greater access to medicines and specialty diagnostic equipment. Generally, Iran is trying to keep up with the increasing demand being placed on the public and private healthcare sector. Total healthcare spending in the country is over $50 Billion USD.” (Solidiance - a Pan-Asia strategy consulting firm)

M Vahid Dastgerdi, Minister, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, marks that "...for healthcare, the country has ranked 17 in the world in science production in the field of medicine and 42 for its citations. Iranian medical articles account for 21.63% of the Middle East’s scientific production in the field of medicine, and 46% of the citations received by the Iranian articles in general"

Frost & Sullivan writes that the country is one of the most attractive markets: “Iran with an aging population of 75 million, represents one of the biggest healthcare markets of the Middle East.”

The Danish Embassy in Tehran points these good opportunities for doing business in Iran:
  • No VAT
  • Low tax on local products
  • Low tax on imported products that has no similar local ones
  • Demand for generic form of medicines
  • High demand for well-known and high tech medical equipment (in both hospitals and laboratories)
  • Modernization trend in health facilities
  • Regulatory circumstances make IP more approachable
Lets us have brief look on the Digital Healthcare picture in Iran. According to ANGEL.CO data there are 116 startup companies. Browsing through the list – one may find only two active:

Shafajoo (meaning In Search of Healing in Persian)
Iranian digital healthcare service that helps you find a nearby doctor and instantly book an appointment. They have many other services including podcasts and discussion forums. The target users are not just about the patients: it also includes physicians.  Doctors, for instance, will have a user profile including their biographies and resumes. I think the most interesting part of this product is that you are able to ask doctors questions, questions that they will answer, thus preventing unnecessary visits to their offices. While there are few agile teams in Iran, this team uses the power of agile methodology in software development. They are also writing many articles related to healthcare.

Shahre Pezeshk
Medical information in Persian
Techly is an English magazine that covers Iran technology and startup news  - this is worth looking at

There was another project that is involved with Digital medicine – but, unfortunately, their Web-site is not responding
Centroid Studio, Design Mobile and Software in health care and media Field.
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So, what is the outlook for hundreds of Healthcare IT companies that would like to start business in Iran? The answer is quite clearly outlined by CNN    
Why U.S. businesses could lose big in Iran
“…  don't be fooled: U.S. companies won't find Iran very open for business.
The U.S. is lifting its nuclear sanctions on Iran as part of the landmark deal, but many business sanctions will remain in place. It will still be almost impossible for most U.S. businesses to set up a physical presence in Iran or partner with Iranian companies.
In contrast, Europe is opening up almost all trade with Iran. The result is likely to be: European companies win, American companies lose.”

However, way back in October 2015 The Wall Street Journal reported  Apple in Talks to Sell iPhone in Iran which was repeated in December Apple, HP, GE eagerly await opening of Iran’s markets and a few days ago reiterated by investors.com.
Read also this from Patently Apple:
The Lifting of Western Sanctions against Iran Opens the Door Wide Open for Apple
“… For Apple, Iran's 77 million people offer a particularly attractive new market. Iran's population is relatively young, with 42% of its people under age 25. Iran also boasts a relative large middle class. And despite decades of animosity between Tehran and the West, many well-off Iranians still embrace Western brands and trends. Currently Samsung is successfully selling their mobile devices in Iran and Apple wants in on the action….
 This could be a great market for Apple over the next several years should they be able to bring several flagship Apple Stores to Iran. Tehran has a population of over 7 million, with Mashhad with over 2 million and Isfahan and Karaj with 1.5 million each. Whether Apple will be able to open stores in Iran remains an open question. Apple's first Middle Eastern store opened on October 29, 2015 in Dubai.

Let’s watch and see who will be the winner?
18.01.2016, 11:46   MedGizmo
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