The online medical appointment booking platform continues to grow. The implementation of video-consultation since the spring has added an additional advantage for both practices and patients.
(pj with Mara BILO) In just a few years, the Luxembourg company Doctena has become one of the leading providers of online appointments in the health sector. Present in six countries, its system has enabled more than 1.4 million remote medical consultations. With the covid crisis, the start-up has introduced new features to its platform. Interview with Alain Fontaine who has just been chosen to lead the company he co-founded in 2013.
How has the Doctena service evolved in recent months?Alain Fontaine In fact, there has been no increase in activity on the site. This is because many practices, such as dentists’ practices, were closed for several weeks during the lockdown last spring. As a result, some health professionals (who were closed) suspended their subscription to our platform. In general, it’s not easier to sell our services and products today; that’s even though awareness of digital solutions in the healthcare sector has increased dramatically with the pandemic.”
But the site has included video-consultation just from last March, good timing…
“This service was already being developed, the crisis led us to offer this option more quickly. This allowed some doctors to work a little, even if they had to physically close their practice. Even today, some practitioners still don’t want to reopen, or at least have an overcrowded waiting room, so they are more inclined to this type of consultation. Even if “remote” is not the solution for all pathologies.”
Who uses your platform the most?
“In general, video consultations are mainly used by general practitioners, psychologists and psychotherapists. In other words, medical specialties where physical contact with the patient is not an absolute necessity. In order to use this feature, physicians pay a monthly fee.”
Are you satisfied with these results?
“Yes and no. So far, less than 10% of our clients have tried video consultation. That’s not a lot. But consider that in the medical world in general, it takes a long time for new technologies to be integrated. Our online solution is simply too new. So there is still a lot of work to be done to convince more physicians.”
Do you think that video consultation will remain in use after the coronavirus?
“Absolutely. I’m convinced that the importance of everything behind the term ‘tele-medicine’ will increase dramatically in the coming years. This includes video consultation as well as the digital exchange of information between doctor and patient or the remote monitoring of certain vital data, such as blood pressure or heart rate. The development of the shared care record is an example of this.”
How will the platform grow now?
“My goal for 2021 is to add, every month, at least one new feature to our offering. At the beginning of the year, we want to simplify the exchange of information between the doctor and the patient.”
“In the future, patients will be able to send their documents to their doctor (blood tests, X-rays or contact information if it is their first appointment). For his part, the professional will also be able to specify in advance which documents are needed for the consultation. This way, no time is wasted in the practice.”
“In addition, we also intend to offer a solution for patient wait times. In some restaurants, there is the possibility to notify customers with a “buzzer” when their table is ready. There, patients could be informed by SMS, five minutes before the start of the appointment that the doctor will soon have time for them. This would avoid unnecessary waiting in advance, and relieve the waiting rooms.”
You have no real competition in Luxembourg. How is it going in the other countries where Doctena is active?
“In the Grand Duchy, we are indeed the only company to offer this service. We have about 2,000 potential customers in the country, knowing that already over 1,050 health professionals use our platform. That’s a market share of over 50%. It’s different elsewhere. In Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, there is strong competitive pressure (in terms of price as well as services offered).”
How would you rate your success?
“Generally speaking, it should be pointed out that the market penetration of these digital solutions in the healthcare sector remains very low. Let’s take Germany: there are about 380,000 healthcare professionals there, but barely 25,000 doctors use services like the ones Doctena offers. Market penetration is therefore relatively low. It will take years before it becomes commonplace to make a doctor’s appointment online and, in some cases, to arrange a video consultation with your doctor.”
Source : wort.lu