Decreasing Nocebo effect of drugs to immigrants by collaboration of traditional healers with medical institutions

Decreasing Nocebo effect of drugs to immigrants by collaboration of traditional healers with medical institutions

GreeceAthens, GreeceAthens, Greece
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

In order to reduce health care costs caused by nocebo effect of western medicines to immigrants, Hellenic Society of Ethnopharmacology plans to train Greek doctors by using traditional healers. An e-application will be also created in order to facilitate a common (medico-cultural) language between doctor and patient.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss, health is a part of civilization. Therefore, different civilizations express different health cultures.The most common characteristic of health cultures,is the establishment of a triangle of trust between the "healer", the "patient" and the treatment. When people are forced to migrate to other countries, they find civilizations that they do not know and / or cannot adopt. Consequently, while they have very limited access to therapy, very often do not trust the therapeutic intervention because they do not trust the civilization of the receptive country. That creates nocebo effects to patients. Doctors cannot solve this issue as they cannot understand the language AND the health culture of immigrant patients. This increases health costs.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

1. Educate doctors in different health cultures by providing them an approved compilation of non western medicine & treatment approaches, to western treatment approaches by using traditional healers that have also studied western medicine. 2. Create a multilingual e-application that will compile diagnostic findings to different health cultures /languages in order to speed up communication between doctor & patient. 3. Identify sources of traditional drugs that could be provided by the doctor to the patient in order to build trust relationships between the doctor and the pharmacist. These therapies might be used to increase safety of the western drug by increasing placebo.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Vision: Decrease health care costs due to immigration by incorporating traditional therapies to western treatment protocols in a way that : 1. establishes trust relationships between the western doctor and the non western patient 2.anticipates limited market access of western drugs to immigrants by providing them drugs of their culture that the know, accept, and respect 3. helps western doctor understand different health cultures and use this knowledge to increase patient compliance Objective: create an e-application that can be used by both doctors, traditional healers companies and patients that shall facilitate communication on description of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment based on at least three different non western cultures (Ayurveda, Yunnan, and Chinese)

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

it is in idea stage

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

there is no direct competitor for the moment. Doctors might reject any "alternative medicine initiative because they might be afraid of an expansion of alternative medicine practice to general population. To overcome this, only traditional therapies that have been approved in pharmacopoeias of countries of origin should be used.

Founding Story

Hellenic society of Ethnopharmacology was founded on 1995 from a group of community pharmacists & academics who realized listening to stories from their patients regarding several traditional therapies of domestic origin that were evidently effective and safe if given under minimum supervision. They created this NGO in order to study the effect of traditional therapies to western people.
Organization Name

Helenic society of Ethnopharmacology ( Ελληνική Εταιρεία Εθνοφαρμακολογίας)

About You
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Explain what the "innovation" is about, e.g., is it the idea and/or the model you use to accomplish the idea, or your understanding of the target population, etc.?

There is ignorance of the health culture of immigrant patients. Training & e-application could dramatically improve medical communication between doctor and non western patient. The innovation comes from the collaboration of traditional healers with domestic doctors for the creation of a common guide that could be used by all medical institutions

Describe how your innovation model is distinct from any other organization in your field?

There is no other model. This is the first aproach in Greece to facilitate collaboration of traditional healers with medical institutions.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Hellenic Society of Ethnopharmacology (HSE) is the official consultant of Hellenic Community Pharmacists Association in phytotherapy issues. HSE is a member of IDEEAF (pls see, the certified training institute of pharmacists. HSE Collaborates with universities (Medicine, pharmacy, anthropology, ethnology), but also with NGOs dealing with ethnoconservation & biodiversity, HSE has also close relation to alternative medicine institutions & associations. Therefore, HSE has a very vast spectrum of networking starting from traditional healers, up to key medical opinion leaders. Therefore, HSE has a very positive influence in educating health professionals in alternative medicine issues, including the western point of view.

How do you make sure you constantly innovate in light of (potential) external challenges, or your growth plan?
Organization Country

, XX, Athens

Business Model
The systemic challenge you are trying to overcome (select one)

Realign the incentives in the public healthcare system in mature markets, or

Health area (target market) where the need is [select only one]

Primary healthcare services

Categories along the health continuum you are covering [select all that apply]

Intervention, Follow-up.

Stage that best applies to your solution [select only one]

Idea (poised to launch)

Core strategies of your business model [select all that apply]

Approaches to behavioral change at the individual level, Patient-centered design, Unconventional partnerships (between traditional healthcare players and players outside healthcare).

If other, specify here:
Most relevant tools you are using to implement the strategies outlined above [select only two]

New skills, Consultation, Education/training.

If other, specify here:
What is your value proposition?
Who is your customer(s)?

doctors that come or will potential come in contact with immigrant patients
traditional healers

What approaches to you use to reach your customers?

for patients:capitalization of NGOs ( trusted and respected from immigrants) that are very successful on defusing good news to target populations (homeless people, immigrants, minorities etc)
for doctors / medical institutions: Multi-channel activities & personal visits to the boards of their associations

What are your primary activities?

identification of traditional healers that understand the language of "evidence based medicine"
selection of doctors that are experienced in working with immigrants. Creation of a working group for the creation of the compilation guide and the training seminar
selection of the agency that will create the convenient application based on the findings of the above mentioned working group.

What other challenges - individual, organizational, or environmental – are you currently facing or might hinder future success of your business, and how do you plan to overcome those?

current legislation does not support access to treatments to illegal immigrants (the only exception is acute hospitalizations).
Use of medical NGOs that deal with health coverage of immigrants (ex medecins sans frontieres, ), patient organizations , and other NGOs as well as company CSR programs partially overcomes those problems. T

Briefly describe your growth strategy going forward
What dimensions for growth are you currently targeting for your innovation [select all that apply]

New regions(s).

What makes your business "ready" for growth?
What are your key growth objectives?
Organization's Country of Operation

, XX, Athens

Social Impact
What methods for quantification of social impact are you applying (if at all)?

number of successful diagnosis as provided by medical NGOs
% of drop outs due to bad compliance as provided by medical NGOs
number of hospitalizations for those patients who used the e-application
nocebo effect pharmacovigilance reports from NGOs

Could your solution work in other geographies or regions? If so, where?

It can work all over the world, particularly in countries that are targeted for imigration

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Elaborate on your current financing strategy

identify and capitalize European community funding programs for fighting poverty and increase social access

Share of revenue generation in total income of organization (in percent)
Direct sales to patients or other beneficiaries (in percent)
Of the possible sources of these sales listed below, check all that apply to your current strategy

Licensing fees, e.g., for technology/franchise model (in percent)
Of the possible sources of these licensing opportunities listed below, check all that apply to your current strategy

Service contract with organizations, e.g., government, NGOs (in percent)
Of the possible sources of the service contracts listed below, check all that apply to your current strategy

Explain your revenue generation strategy in more detail
Share of philanthropy in total income of organization (in percent)
Philanthrophy strategies you are using

Explain your philanthropic approach in more detail
Expand on your selections; explain how you will sustain funding over the next 1-3 years.
Years in Operation

Operating for more than 5 years

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

The organization haw received multiple honors from Hellenic Pharmacists association, being a key consultant in Continuous Pharmaceutical Education in phytotherapy issues