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Consulto: Working with – and for – your family

Our December newsletter focused on the rewards and challenges of working with your family. To continue this theme, we’re taking the opportunity to get to know a family-run start-up: Consulto recently joined the Biopôle community, having successfully applied to join our Vanguard Accelerator programme. We spoke to Basem Higazy, who co-founded the company with his twin brother Baher.


What does Consulto do?

Consulto plans to build the world’s first clinic specialised in virtual team-based care. We host independent doctors, generalists and specialists, who team up to deliver holistic care for their patients – aiming to make the healthcare journey of people with complex health needs coordinated and efficient when they need more than one doctor for diagnosis, treatment or follow-up. Such patients can better navigate their healthcare journeys, have better clinical outcomes, and spend less time in the healthcare system. And, thanks to the increased efficiency and continuity of care, Consulto’s solution not only offers higher care quality, but also improves health professionals’ satisfaction and decreases the cost of care.


Tell us about what led you to found Consulto.

The idea of Consulto came to Baher and I ten years ago, when we were in medical school. Back then our grandmother had a rare medical condition that made her accumulate litres of fluid in her abdomen. We had tens of visits to specialists, each of whom said, ‘It is not in my area of speciality; I will refer you to my colleague’. Two years later, she died undiagnosed. It was a shock to our entire family. At this point, we felt the healthcare system has failed us.

Years later, I was put in a similar situation. I saw my partner lost in the system visiting dozens of doctors in Geneva and Zurich without getting a diagnosis or having her case adequately managed. It was only by joining the dots between her specialists that she was able to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment, and she started to feel better.

Thanks to current technological advancement and the experience we have accumulated over the years, Consulto can now develop, offering a alternative healthcare journey in such situations.

The future of healthcare delivery is hybrid care, where people interact with healthcare both virtually and in person as standard.

Where in the start-up journey are you?

We are testing Consulto, measuring its impact on the patient journey and its outcomes. Also, we are consolidating our pilot project and the partnerships that will make it happen, including one hospital, a network of doctors and a health insurance company. Together with our partners, we are aiming for Consulto to benefit its first patient in the Swiss health system in Q3 2023.


Which challenges have you already faced (and which ones lie ahead)?

When we started, we thought that our solution was simple and straightforward, but we learned the hard way that it’s quite the opposite. Consulto disrupts the healthcare industry at its core. It requires a reimagining of the relationship between healthcare professionals and with the patient. We faced a serious challenge: how to design our clinic in a way that offers aligning incentives to healthcare providers and insurance companies, while keeping the patients at the centre.

We therefore had to decide how to shape and speak about our vision without undermining it, while also not scaring the partners we needed to attract to make it happen. And from this challenge came our biggest opportunity. We have built a community of early believers and partners, who are betting on our success by sharing their invaluable insights and opening their ecosystems for Consulto.

The team of Consulto at work

How do you think virtual clinics will affect the future of healthcare?

The future of healthcare delivery is hybrid care, where people interact with healthcare both virtually and in person as standard. Virtual clinics like Consulto are the vehicles towards this paradigm shift.


How will your connection with Biopôle Lausanne support you on your journey?

Biopôle offers us an unparalleled network of experts and advisors to guide us through the Vanguard Accelerator programme. The campus also offers us a stimulating environment. Being surrounded by successful life sciences start-ups at different stages of development, from early to scaling up, inspires us and makes collaborations much easier.


What did it mean to found a company with your brother?

We have always wished each other the best personally and professionally, which helps us greatly in building Consulto together. The biggest asset of a start-up is its founding team: it’s worth investing in. And this is what we both do to each other. We constantly help each other to learn, and we boost each other’s morale when one of us is taken down by the tide. We are investing in each other.

Vanguard Accelerator
The Vanguard Accelerator is a free six-month programme, run by Biopôle SA and its partners, to help promising digital health-oriented projects supercharge their innovation and take their business strategy to the next level.

This immersive programme gives early-stage start-ups the opportunity to work with diverse and experienced digital health experts, who can advise on business plans and strategies. They include clinicians, nurses and pharmacists, alongside regulators, investors and IT specialists, all ready to offer their expertise. Start-ups selected for the accelerator programme benefit from exclusive real-world insights for business hypothesis testing and networking support to bring their digital health innovation to life. Among the first companies to have been selected for the programme back in 2020 are Gabi Smartcare and Resilient.ai.

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