What are they
Arie (Lev) Orlovsky
Founder and CEO of Medviser
Arie (Lev) Orlovsky Brings World-Class Physicians to Living Rooms around the World
The founder and CEO of Medviser explains why high-tech video consultations between patients and doctors, especially international consults, may be the future of global healthcare.
by Jen Swetzoff
Technology has the potential to change the way we do nearly everything, including the way we communicate with doctors. Thanks to telemedicine, a Russian woman living in Siberia, for example, can now consult with a world-class physician in Israel about her recent breast cancer diagnosis, straight from her living room couch. That second opinion might prove that her tumor is benign, misdiagnosed at her local clinic, and ultimately save her from unnecessary surgery, not to mention thousands of dollars. That’s the premise behind Medviser, a marketplace for remote medical video consultations, founded and led by Arie (Lev) Orlovsky.
Born and raised in Siberia, Russia, Orlovsky always had medicine as a part of life. His mother is a physician, and two of his grandparents were physicians. When he moved to Haifa, Israel, with his family at the age of 12, he thought he’d follow in his mother’s footsteps to one day become a doctor himself. But he also became interested in computers.
After graduating from high school, he served for three years in the Israel Defense Forces as a software engineer at Mamram, the Center of Computing and Information Systems. He then received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, before working for technology leaders Microsoft and IBM. To deepen his business acumen, he went to INSEAD, studying in France and Singapore, and received his MBA in 2009. After that, he returned to Israel and worked for Amdocs, soon marrying and welcoming a daughter into the world.
“Around that time,” Orlovsky said, “I realized that Russia was a huge market with a lot of growth potential. I knew the language, and I knew the people, so I decided to pursue an opportunity with Booz & Company in Moscow.”
In 2011, Orlovsky became a strategy consultant with Booz & Company, focusing on technology, telecom, and innovation projects. But he remained passionate about the medical field, and started paying attention to the high number of misdiagnosed Russian patients his mother and her colleagues were treating in Israel. Inspired to improve access to quality healthcare around the world, Orlovsky launched Medviser in 2014 and received funding from a private investment company in 2015.
Today, Orlovsky splits his time between Israel, Russia, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). During a recent conversation with Strategy&, he discussed the value of consulting, how telemedicine is revolutionizing healthcare, and when risks are worth taking.
How did you get the idea for Medviser?
When I started working as a consultant for Booz & Company in Moscow, I saw firsthand the poor quality of Russia’s healthcare system. At the same time, my mother, who still works as a doctor in Israel, would tell me about some of her Russian patients who came to Israel seeking better care. She noticed that a high number of her patients were misdiagnosed in Russia. But medical tourism was expensive. If a Russian patient went to Germany or Israel for treatment, it could cost [him or her] more than US$15,000, perhaps up to a few hundred thousand dollars. There are not many people in Russia who can afford prices like that.
So it became apparent to me, coming from the technology world where everything was moving toward digitization, that there was a huge opportunity in the field of medicine to help patients in Russia and the CIS. I wanted to provide a service that, in many cases, can replace the need for going abroad to gain access to medical tools and treatment.
What we do at Medviser is give our patients direct access to leading international doctors through high-tech video consultations. Many times, a second opinion is enough. The patient can continue a treatment locally, based on a physician’s recommendations from abroad. Of course, if surgical invention is required, we have an international network of physicians who can provide those services. But that is not our main business. Our business is to provide people the opportunity for direct, convenient, and relatively inexpensive access to top-quality doctors.
Medviser is a new company. How have you ramped up so quickly?
There are a couple of channels. First, our investor certainly helped us spread the word in Russia and Israel. Almost all the major newspapers and magazines wrote about Medviser last year because of our investor, and we now have more than 100 doctors in our network. Second, we focus on online advertising to attract patients, using social networking platforms. Third, we’re moving toward a B2B business model, where we’re working with employers to launch products that include our video consultations within patients’ insurance packages.
How does Medviser work?
A patient’s medical record, with relevant test results, is sent electronically to the doctor, who reviews everything in advance of a video consultation. The video consultation itself usually takes half an hour, and then the doctor writes a summary opinion. All told, the doctor spends a little bit more than one hour on one case. At least in Russia, that service we provide costs the patient somewhere between $300 and $500, depending on the doctor’s specialty and seniority. We’re de-layering the healthcare system, removing intermediaries to create a marketplace where a patient can access a doctor directly.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your work?
Receiving positive feedback from patients for whom we’ve provided the right treatment and saved a lot of money gives me a great feeling.
What are some of the biggest challenges your company faces?
We want to maintain affordable services for our patients, which can be difficult. While we are much less expensive than treatments abroad, we aren’t necessarily less expensive than local clinics. These economic realities in Russia and the CIS right now represent the biggest challenge for us in terms of achieving high growth. Our solution is trying to reduce the prices by encapsulating our services with an insurance product.
We’re also looking to move into other geographies to diversify and expand the company. We had a patient recently who was originally from Russia, but was based in the United States and wanted a second opinion, which the patient ordered from Medviser. Now we’re at the stage of considering what markets to expand to next, perhaps into Asia or the Americas.
What did you learn as a consultant that helps you as a CEO today?
My consulting career developed my ability to get things done, quickly and efficiently. On top of that, my communication skills improved dramatically, both in writing and in speaking with people.
Why do you value the Strategy& global alumni network?
At Medviser, I still work with people I met at Booz & Company in Moscow. I use the network directly. And when I’m working with people from Booz & Company, I know that I can expect a certain standard of quality and culture. That’s very important to me.
What do you consider your most marked characteristic?
When and where are you happiest?
When I’m not traveling for work, I like to spend time with my wife and my daughter in Israel.
What advice would you offer somebody interested in starting a company?
It’s risky. But if you have an idea and you believe in it, if there’s something burning inside you, you need to take a leap of faith and just jump in.
Jen Swetzoff is a freelance writer and editor. Previously, she worked with Strategy& as the deputy managing editor at strategy+business magazine.
Disclaimer: Please note that historical references to Booz & Company and Booz Allen Hamilton are found in this article/section since the alumni featured here left the firm prior to Strategy& joining the PwC global network of firms.