Apps revolutionise healthcare and threaten agency role

Healthcare apps offering direct booking and consultation services with doctors are a threat and opportunity for medical tourism. New technology is changing how healthcare is provided with the ability to book an appointment and find a doctor just a simple click away.

The rise of instant app based booking and consultations with doctors globally should concern medical tourism agents and hospitals taking days to set up appointments by mail, phone, or email

New technology is changing how healthcare is provided. While app based services have huge potential, the amount of money needed to develop them is massive too. Those getting it right could make a fortune but those getting it wrong could lose millions.

Booking appointments with doctors, or talking direct to them, via apps on tablets and smartphones is a massive growth area. For medical tourism it is both a threat and an opportunity.

French doctor booking start up DoctoLib has raised another $20 million (18 million euros)- on top of the existing $6 million funding- to expand its platform to the rest of Europe.

DoctoLib’s software-as-a-service offering serves 5,000 doctors and 100 clinics across 80 specialties and serves 2 million patients a month. Now, with the new infusion of cash, the company hopes to serve doctors across Europe.

The company offers a 30% cost reduction in booking management costs, a 75% decrease in no shows, and new patient outreach to the tune of 20 new patients per doctor per month. The reduction in no-shows is accomplished with email and text reminders and by making it easy for patients to cancel via those same channels.

ZocDoc raised $130 million to grow its doctor booking service in the USA. US competitor MyTime raised $9 million. MyTime does not help patients book appointments with primary care doctors but helps users book appointments for a range of other health-related services. Users can book appointments for a dental exam and cleaning, teeth whitening, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, eye exam, and physical therapy.

Another doctor booking service is based in Warsaw, Poland. DocPlanner raises $10 million to offer bookings across Europe, South America, and Asia.

Lybrate is India’s first and largest healthcare communication and delivery platform, with new capital of $10.2 million.  It enables patients to communicate anonymously with doctors via a mobile app or online from anywhere and at anytime
Since the launch of the Lybrate app in January 2015, the company has seen a massive growth with more than 80,000 doctors from various specialties from across India currently connected with its service. It gets over 100,000 patients visiting the platform every day

Before putting any doctor on its platform, Lybrate runs a background check to verify medical licenses and credentials. The users can seek multiple opinions from doctors for free on the open platform, or start a one-on-one dialogue privately for a fee with doctors and share text, photo and voice. While interacting on an open platform, the doctor can also endorse answers of other doctors.

All these companies- and many more out there- have plans to extend where they operate, the type of healthcare they offer and the technology based services they plan.
Unless they can offer service that a consumer cannot get direct and instantly on an app, medical tourism agents risk being cut out of the loop by national and global companies with huge financial resources.