One of Luxembourg’s most successful healthech stories must be Doctena.lu. Delano spoke to co-founder and CIO Alain Fontaine about the firm’s development.
Launched in September 2013 as a medical booking application, Doctena.lu has since expanded to five other European countries. A customer satisfaction survey of 9,000 patients published on 28 March 2018 revealed that 96% were delighted with the Doctena service, and, on 29 March 2018 Crown Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg welcomed one of its co-founders to a royal reception. Not bad work for a company that is only five years old.
“From the very beginning, there was strong interest from patients to use our services. Nowadays people are used to organising their lives with online tools and platforms, so expanding this habit to healthcare is a natural move,” Fontaine said.
Doctors, however, have been a bit more cautious. “Adoption by doctors always takes a bit longer than the innovation-driven adoption by patients because doctors have stronger requirements in terms of constraints and change management,” he explained.
Booking by phone is so year 2000
Having said that, he added, “Our best performing doctors have succeeded in getting more than 50% of their total bookings online in just a few months. For others it has taken a bit longer for them to change their habits.”
Fontaine believes that doctors are looking for more efficiency and will come to see that online health management is the way forward. “If your customer base uses online platforms for almost all of their life management (planning holidays, making payments, organising their family activities, ...) you cannot close the door to online health management without risking being left out.”
“In any case, booking medical appointments via a secretary on the telephone is so year 2000.”
Technology good, but listening as important
On the issue of how important technology is to improving access to healthcare, Fontaine said that it is important get priorities straight from the outset. For him, it is important to have a strong technological backbone in order to continually innovate to meet aggressive business targets and compete, but what is more important is listening to what the customer needs.
“At the end of the day, it matters little which programming language or which architecture patterns you use. What is important is that you understand what the users (patients and doctors) want and need, then make the best choices that allow you to meet these requirements quickly and in a sustainable way.”
But technology does make it easier
Listening is good, but technology does make taking action much more practical and efficient for both patients and doctors.
“Patients can easily and quickly find a doctor and book an appointment at any time of the day from wherever they are, without spending time in a phone waiting queue. They are automatically reminded of their appointments, and they can view and manage their "medical team" and appointment history from within a central point of access.”
Not only that, but they can avoid uncomfortable conversations. “For many patients, having to call a practice assistant and explain their health issues to a stranger can be a real challenge, even a barrier. Booking your appointment online without having to have personal contact before you actually see the doctor, helps patients who might otherwise not have gone to see a doctor.”
Doctors can focus on health, not agendas
As for medical practitioners, “they see better efficiency and increased productivity by using Doctena's tools. Often the calls a practice secretary deals with mostly concern the manual synchronisation of patient's preferences and the doctor's availabilities. This is something that software can handle, and the time saved can be used more efficiently by the doctor or the assistants doing more valuable work. In a nutshell, Doctena frees up time for the practitioner to care about the patient's issues instead of wasting time synchronising agendas.”
A royal seal of approval
On Thursday 29 March 2018, co-founder of Doctena, Patrick Kersten, was received by HRH Crown Prince Guillaume at the Grand Ducal palace. How was this moment for Doctena?
“Not many companies in Luxembourg have had this privilege and seeing Doctena in this very limited list after only five years of existence is a great motivational booster. The audience marks the spot in Doctena's lifetime where we are a known and established name in Luxembourg. I am personally looking forward to more audiences where Patrick meets royals and dignitaries of the other countries we are active in.”