Home Health “Ready to invest 250 million in Italy to simplify the lives of doctors and patients”. Interview with Nicola Brandolese, CEO of Doctolib Italia

“Ready to invest 250 million in Italy to simplify the lives of doctors and patients”. Interview with Nicola Brandolese, CEO of Doctolib Italia

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The Franco-Italian tech company aims to improve access to healthcare and the health of patients and to help healthcare professionals optimize the organization of their business. “We chose Italy for a reason linked to our mission. Health care in Italy has a difficult access and the times to access a specialist through the public service are still long”.

04 NOVNicola Brandolese is the new CEO of Doctolib Italia. With 25 years of experience in the digital sector, Brandolese was part of the founding team of Sky Italia and led the digital growth of the Luxottica Group, transforming its retail brands globally. It is told to Health Newspaper to talk to us about Doctolib, the Franco-Italian tech company that aims to improve access to healthcare and the health of patients and to help healthcare professionals optimize the organization of their business.

What is Doctolib and what does it do?

It is a tech company that aims to improve the life of the patient, improve access to care and the health of all citizens but also improve the daily life of healthcare personnel. This happens thanks to a software suite developed with doctors, which allows healthcare personnel to better manage patients and their everyday work. With Doctolib, from desktop or via your smartphone, the patient can find the doctor he needs, book a visit and exchange all the documentation in a simple, safe, 24 / 24h way.

Why did you decide to enter the Italian market?

The team has been studying the Italian context for several years and in the last year thousands of citizens and doctors have been met, then with 150 doctors the service has actually been tested. These are doctors who work with us every day, our early adopters with whom we have developed every feature of the service. And we chose Italy for a reason linked to our mission – to improve the quality of life of doctors and improve access to care for patients – in a context that is complex today. Health care in Italy has difficult access and the time to access a specialist through the public service is still long.

What target are you targeting? Do you aim to simplify access with the private specialist or even with the one who works in public facilities?

As in France and Germany, we address all healthcare personnel: both family doctors, specialists and hospitals, both public and private. The goal is to serve all healthcare personnel in Italy and cover 100% of patients – thus helping 63 million Italians.

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In France, where did you start from, what level of penetration do you have?

Between France and Germany, more than 300,000 healthcare professionals use our services every day. In France, which started earlier, we obviously work with more healthcare professionals, but the service is still growing rapidly. With our doctors the level of loyalty is extraordinary. All the doctors who work with us renew their partnership every month and those who leave us do so mainly when they retire or in case of relocation. As proof of the high quality of our solutions and the service offered. We therefore hope that the same can also happen in Italy.

What services do you offer besides booking visits?

The services are many. The family doctor has a service based on the possibility of managing the agenda of his own practice and appointments, he can also activate communication with the patient and vice versa, exchange clinical documentation and better manage the activities of the office. Thanks to all this, he is able to save more than an hour of time a day and is freed from the most repetitive administrative tasks. And this is very true for both the doctor and the secretarial staff, because by freeing the staff from these activities, there is more time to devote to elderly patients, the chronically ill and patients with disabilities. Then, to specialists, in addition to simplifying the practice of the practice and improving time management, we also offer the possibility of significantly increasing the number of patients and online bookings.

What is the business model?

The business model is totally free for the patient, while the doctor – depending on the type of doctor and the activity performed – pays a monthly subscription and of course this subscription is free from constraints. The doctor is free to join and leave when he wants, without obligation, and we have seen that in reality once he has tried the service, the positive impact on the simplification of work and professional activity is evident and remarkable.

Will you come to offer solutions to hospitals too?

Certainly yes, obviously it will be in a second phase, alongside and supporting the health system which we could never replace. Since 2016 Doctolib is a partner of the Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, the APHP, which is the largest hospital university group in Europe with more than 10 million patients, therefore pure health system, where more than 80% of medical visits is facilitated by Doctolib. With the health authorities in both France and Germany we helped set up 1800 vaccination centers, 70 million appointments in France and Germany and for the covid campaign, 200 people were hired to manage this activity with obviously a load of overtime during the summer. So the answer to the original question is certainly yes. We will get there in stages, starting from general practitioners then to specialists and then we will go on to offer solutions for hospitals as well

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There is a lot of talk about big data in health care and obviously it is understood that the amount of views that you will manage will populate a database, do you also think of an activity in what sense?

The data are requested exclusively to perform the service: we do not share them with anyone, nor do we use them for commercial purposes. We don’t do it in France and Germany and we won’t do it in Italy either. Guaranteeing maximum security in the processing of personal data is really our mantra, so all the provisions that each individual state within the European Union has defined are strictly followed. We protect each individual data with the highest encryption standard and each user has full control of their data.

What does the acquisition of dottori.it represent?

They, like Doctolib, left in 2013 and we share the same long-term vision; therefore, we have well thought of joining them, because in the end the doctors who use dottori.it are the ones who will then decide to focus on doctolib, significantly increasing the number of patients. To date, dottori.it remains as a brand and as a suite, after which there will be the possibility for doctors to use both services and both brands, then we will decide over time when, how and if eventually to focus only on Doctolib.

The other thing that made the news was certainly the amount of investment: 250 million. What will you invest them in?

We will certainly invest them in staff to give extraordinary service to our doctors. We will then build a tech-hub in Milan for the development of features that are useful and specific for the Italian context, but also for Germany and France. We already have tech-hubs in the other two states and therefore the Italian one would support. We will certainly also invest in marketing and communication to grow our brand and give the doctors who join the opportunity to have more visibility. This is an initial investment, so 250 million is already in our plan in a short time, but we do not limit ourselves to this and we will be well prepared to take advantage of other initiatives and other opportunities. We will take offices in the main Italian regions, we will open in Rome and then later also in the main cities.

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Are you also thinking of other strategic acquisitions after that of dottori.it?

We have not planned any acquisitions for now, but we will be ready to do everything we can to meet our missions, without changing our objective as facilitators in the management of patients and improving the daily life of healthcare personnel.

A curiosity. What kind of specialists are most attracted to your service?

Family doctors were the first to use our solutions. The specialists most sought after by patients are the dentist, the cardiologist, the psychologist or the gynecologist. Then there are those among the various categories of doctors who have different benefits, for example the family doctor is interested in simplifying their day and gaining time to devote to their patients. By choosing Doctolib, specialists who wish will be able to increase the number of online bookings by 3 times compared to what they had on dottori.it, in a few weeks.

And how does this increase happen?

For many reasons. First of all, because we increase the availability and access to the number of doctors and therefore the citizen has a larger number of specialists to choose from. Then we give visibility to our brand bringing a benefit to all doctors, as well as increasing the efficiency of the time of visits and reducing cancellations, which lead both to disruption in the doctor’s agenda and to the reduction of the possibility for the doctor to visit in that hour canceled by the patient.

04 November 2021
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