Izanami Martínez is implementing a new, more efficient way to see the doctor – but several hurdles still remain, including entrenched attitudes regarding health care delivery.
President of Spain’s start-up association, Izanami Martínez set up Nonabox, a subscription service for baby care products, before founding Doctor24 in 2015. With this application, 3,000 patients can now describe their symptoms to any one of 200 participating doctors by video call for €24.99. Martínez discusses the challenges and potential of her application.
TECHNOLOGIST What’s so innovative about your application?
IZANAMI MARTÍNEZ Accessibility, quality and cost often conflict in health care. It’s a dilemma that has been dubbed the “death triangle”. Our system offers fast, inexpensive, quality consultations while broadening access to health care.
TECHNOLOGIST What else?
IZANAMI MARTÍNEZ We’ve developed a high-quality video chat system so that doctors can clearly distinguish potential symptoms. We also provide other services, such as a database for physicians to store information and an online prescription system for buying medicine from pharmacies.
TECHNOLOGIST What’s the reaction been?
IZANAMI MARTÍNEZ Patients really appreciate the service. Following a video consultation, fewer than 25% of them go see a doctor in an office. Doctors have also embraced the system, and insurance companies value the considerable reduction in costs.
TECHNOLOGIST What’s the main obstacle?
IZANAMI MARTÍNEZ The notion that one should see a doctor in person is deeply ingrained in people’s minds. They don’t yet realise that they can get medical help through a video call.
TECHNOLOGIST Can virtual consultations replace face-to-face doctor’s visits?
IZANAMI MARTÍNEZ Absolutely. We’ve demonstrated that 75% of consultations can be carried out without a physical examination. According to the American Medical Association, up to 70% of outpatient office visits could be replaced by online consultations.
TECHNOLOGIST Have you faced any regulatory issues?
IZANAMI MARTÍNEZ No, because the sector isn’t regulated yet. That’s both good and bad. We’re free for the moment to do basically what we want. But we’re concerned that the government will start regulating the sector without involving us. That could put an end to this service, which is in very high demand.
TECHNOLOGIST Is it easy to launch an online consultation platform?
IZANAMI MARTÍNEZ No, because a lot of variables need to be taken into account. The most important aspect is confidentiality, which is a top priority for medical consultations. One of the biggest challenges was setting up a secure communication system.
Interview by Clément Bürge
Europe opens up to online health care The Swedish video consultation start-up KRY has attracted €6.1 million in seed funding, which it will use to increase the number of doctors available. Founded in 2014, KRY has been used by more than 30,000 people and offers virtual consultations for €31 per 15 minutes.