Patrick Kersten (Doctena), Easing the pain of making doctor’s appointments
Luxembourg digital medical appointment platform Doctena, has gone from start-up to European leader following the recent acquisition of one of its biggest competitors. CEO Patrick Kersten says patients’ own focus on their medical data is a key driver of digitalisation in the health sector.
How has Doctena grown from a Luxembourg start-up into a European leader?
The firm was established in 2013 in a partnership with 300 doctors in Luxembourg, with the goal of enabling patients to make appointments with doctors online – saving them time and trouble, and reducing the administrative workload of healthcare practitioners. Doctena classifies professionals by location and specialisation, provides contact details and compiles the user’s medical appointment history. The platform simplifies processes within the medical practice and removes the patient’s ‘pain point’ of having to call up during the peak hours of 8 to 10 a.m. In our latest annual survey, 97% of patient users say they recommend Doctena to their family and friends. Following our launch, the firm quickly expanded in the Benelux countries, and in the past 18 months, Doctena has acquired similar services in other markets, such as German competitor Doxter. We are now the leading European online medical booking platform, serving more than 10,000 healthcare professionals and facilitating a million patient appointments per month.
“Our interface is facilitating a million patient appointments per month.”
How do you see Doctena’s business developing?
Patrick Kersten: There are currently 500,000 practitioners in the countries where we operate: the Benelux countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Users are now looking for all doctors to be registered with the service, while a clear majority of healthcare practitioners expect patients to be using digital tools to book appointments by 2025. Certain markets are more mature than others – one Belgian doctor in 10 uses our platform, compared with one in five in Luxembourg – and the potential for growth is even greater in paramedical fields. We don’t see a threat from big data players such as Apple and Google, whose distribution model is mostly focused on self-enrolment, because doctors favour face-to-face dialogue. Our added value is that we provide advice and share user experience. The potential for expansion is enormous – the average patient books six to seven appointments a year. At the same time, we are patient-centric and incorporate their expectations and hopes into the regular updates of our application. The professional user interface is being continuously improved, too.
What forces are driving the digitalisation of the health sector?
Patrick Kersten: There are four main elements. In many countries, electronic files are required by legislation, obliging hospital and doctors to digitalise and equip themselves. Secondly, doctors are avid users of new technology and are looking for the same development in their professional tools. Thirdly, patients want the ability to monitor their own health and are now the primary users of medical data, provided through tracking and fitness devices. Finally, smartwatches collect a wide range of data offering meaningful insights into patients’ activity and health. All these forces are driving the evolution of the market.