To book a doctor or dentist appointment, the telephone remains ultra-dominant. But that could change quickly. The Luxembourg start-up Doctena has just raised 4.5 million euros to hope to impose online medical appointment booking in the Benelux.
In Germany alone, patients book 718 million medical visits each year, compared to 112 million travel tickets. There is no reason to suppose that this proportion is different in other European countries, says Patrick Kersten. According to the Luxembourg entrepreneur, who studied at the ICHEC in Brussels, there is no reason why booking a doctor’s appointment online should not become as commonplace as booking a hotel or a cab. In 2013, he created Doctena, an online medical appointment platform. In the meantime, the Grand-Ducal start-up employs 23 people, including 5 in an office in Brussels, and has just raised no less than 4.5 million euros from private investors, business angels and long-term loans.
The windfall will be used to fuel the platform’s international development, starting with consolidating its position in the Benelux. Until now, big players like Doctolib in France or ZocDoc in the United States have been content to explore their native markets, but the appetite comes with eating… “We are the only ones to have a multi-country team. Consultation with professional associations and respect for the regulatory framework in each country is very important. In Belgium, we have consulted the Order of Physicians, which has issued a number of recommendations on our application.explains Patrick Kersten.
In addition to facilitating the booking of appointments, Doctena allows you to find a doctor or a dentist when you arrive in a new city for example. But “we are not a directory,” says the founder. A mention on the Doctena home page indicates that the tool is not exhaustive and provides information on the official sites of federations of doctors or dentists.
Specifically, using their mobile device or desktop computer, patients can choose a practitioner based on their specialty, language or region of practice. The platform presents the available time slots. The patient clicks on the time slot of his choice. The appointment is made and almost instantly confirmed by the medical office.
On the physician side, Doctena acts as an aggregator. ” Our platform is compatible with the main medical planning software,” adds Patrick Kersten. The application, free on the patient side, is sold from 100 euros per month to health professionals.
Doctena reminds us strongly of another start-up, Belgian. Launched at the end of 2014 by Quentin Roquet, Progenda offers doctors, from 40 euros per month, a web-based tool, for booking appointments. The startup then customizes a cloud-based booking application for each doctor, which will typically be integrated with the doctor’s website. Unlike Doctena, which is also a search tool, Progenda aims to optimize the appointment process between a doctor and a patient who have already seen each other at least once. Targeting both private and hospital-based physicians, Progenda has also raised a first round of funding from private investors, “not in the same order of magnitude as our competitor”, Quentin Roquet says.
Neither of the two players in this nascent market is willing to disclose any figures at this stage.