ViViDoctor, a healthtech startup out of Brussels that offers teleconsultations with doctors, has raised €400,000 in seed funding as it continues to sell its service into hospitals. The company enables patients to consult with doctors and other specialists online, including via video conference. However, unlike a number of similar startups, ViViDoctor is partnering with hospitals, in addition to offering a direct to consumer version.
That, co-founder and CEO Sidar Ok tells me, has been met with some resistance by The Belgian Board of Doctors, which has chosen to oppose teleconsultations, contrary to the position of the European Union. “Our launch has created a lot of controversy in the local medical world as well as the media,” he says. “This has disheartened us, but after our research, the conclusion was that doing teleconsultations is not illegal, and can save lives, cost and time”.
Launched with four hospitals and local GPs in 2017, Ok says the ViViDoctor service has been designed to not only make it more convenient for patients to consult with physicians but also make it easier for hospitals and clinics to stay in touch with their patients and in turn reduce readmission rates.
“The doctor visits are not convenient for the patient, and expensive for the hospitals,” he says. “Hospitals face bigger budget cuts than ever and are looking for ways to cut the costs without decreasing the revenue and losing the connection with the patients. Teleconsultations is an effective way of achieving both and several [of the] biggest hospitals as our clients prove this”.
The point the ViViDoctor co-founder makes is that hospitals in Belgium aren’t financially set up like a business: repeat customers — or readmissions — don’t automatically bring in more money, regardless of what they cost to serve. “[The] hospital business is a hard because it is the type that you don’t want returning customers,” he says. By offering teleconsultations from a hospital it is possible to intervene earlier and prevent readmission.
In Belgium, ViViDoctor claims to be the market leader, while Ok cites Babylon and Pushdoctor in Europe, and KRY in Sweden as its main potential competition in the B2C space. But, as noted, the startup’s main differentiation is that it sells into hospitals.
We charge hospitals and clinics a service fee per month, and the hospitals/clinics can choose to charge their patients or not,” adds Ok. “We also have our own GP network, where we charge 20 Euros for one consultation, and receive a commission”.