Doctolib can see you now: Meet the e-health tool that's taken off in France

Medical appointment booking app Doctolib is clocking up 30 million online visits from patients a month.

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As Doctolib's visibility has increased over the past five years, its e-health tool has become a part of everyday life in France.

Doctolib, now with a market valuation of over $1bn, is an app and web-based platform that lets patients book and manage appointments with doctors and medical specialists.

First launched in 2013 and available to the public in France and Germany, Doctolib receives 30 million online visits from patients every month. It provides about 75,000 doctors with a cloud booking service that connects patients to 1,400 healthcare facilities.

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The company argues that the system can lower the number of calls a hospital or practice receives by around a third and cut up to 75 percent of missed appointments. It also helps doctors raise awareness for their services and develop their patient community.

Having recently raised €150m ($168m) from equity group General Atlantic, Franco-German company Doctolib joins the ranks of French unicorns Blablacar, Critero, and Vente-Privée.

"Technology is in the early innings of transforming how patients and doctors engage with healthcare," says Chris Caulkin, managing director and head of technology for EMEA at General Atlantic.

"There's significant potential to improve the service delivery model and overall access to healthcare."

Over the next few years Doctolib intends to double the size of its team from 750 to 1,500 people. The company will invest heavily in tech across its two sites in Paris and Berlin, particularly in hiring developers and engineers.

But it also places a strong emphasis on field consultants who present the software to physicians and hospitals, and support them through the setup and usage process.

The company's chief product officer Julien Méraud explains that the technology is 100 percent owned by Doctolib, as it was developed by co-founders Jessy Bernal and Ivan Schneider, and chief technology officer Philippe Vimard. He describes it as "the most advanced booking management software in Europe".

Doctolib's goal aims to improve the efficiency of the medical organization, build a new patient experience, and expand operations, and collaboration with referring doctors.

To improve a doctor's organization, in addition to the management software, Doctolib provides a business-intelligence tool, tailored consultations, and tools to fight against no-shows using SMS, email, reminders, online cancellations, and a blacklist.

"We continuously develop features in partnership with our customers," says Méraud. "We operate on an agile model with development sprints and a hot-deployment system, and we release new features and optimizations every day."

The enhanced patient experience includes 24/7 booking and cancellation of appointments, an online patient account, as well as up-to-date communication about cancellations, delays, recalls, changes, and waiting lists.

Méraud says the technology also improves collaboration with referring doctors, by providing a 24/7 booking services on doctors' and hospitals' websites, and an online referring doctor account.

The growth in tech staff will also enable expansion of the new telehealth service Doctolib has been offering French patients since the start of 2019.

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New features offered include online payment, video consultation between physicians and their patients, and online medical prescriptions, which are only available for doctors and their own patients. These can be sent to a pharmacy and uploaded by a secure platform.

"We apply very strict standards in terms of data protection and security: we do not own any data from our users," says Méraud. "They are stocked on hosting companies AZ Network and Coreye, which hold a specific agreement on data protection delivered by the French State and the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés."

As growth continues in France and Germany, Doctolib plans to expand into other countries in Europe and the rest of the world.

"We currently have Doctolib team members in foreign countries to improve our knowledge of other healthcare systems and assess opportunities to settle," says Méraud.

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Doctolib gives patients 24/7 booking and cancellation of appointments, an online patient account, plus info on cancellations, delays, recalls, changes, and waiting lists.

Image: Doctolib

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