French Telemedicine App Doctolib Sees New Era for Online Doctors

(Bloomberg) -- Doctolib, the French telemedicine app, sees a boom in online medicine lasting even after society returns to normal following the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The firm says it’s seen about 2.5 million consultations in a month, usually surpassing 100,000 a day, as doctors and patients go online to avoid exposing themselves or others to the virus, or to get appointments when in-person medical visits are scarce. That’s 100 times higher than the level at the start of the crisis. The number of doctors using the platform increased 10-fold.

Doctolib expects to maintain half that level of visits and to keep about three-quarters of the doctors who subscribe to its 79-euro a month tool when restrictions are lifted, Chief Executive Officer Stanislas Niox-Chateau said in an interview. Before the crisis, Doctolib’s goal was to reach 2,000 a day by year end.

“I don’t think it can replace an in-person doctor visit, nor should it, but telemedicine creates value for the patient and the practitioner: in time and transport management, in comfort and allows a more regular monitoring,” Niox-Chateau said.

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Though the current health crisis has provided a lift to Doctolib’s business, it isn’t immediately generating profits, Niox-Chateau said. The company is providing its telemedicine tool free to about 31,000 doctors until at least the end of May. Still, about 125,000 practitioners are paying 129 euros a month for the company’s appointment scheduling software.

Doctolib, founded in 2013 and backed by the French state, raised 150 million euros ($162 million) a year ago with New York-based General Atlantic leading the round. That fundraising valued the company at more than 1 billion euros. The company will reach out to existing investors for additional financing as it plans an expansion into a handful of new markets beyond its current territory in France and Germany. It isn’t planning a formal fundraising round, Niox-Chateau said.

Niox-Chateau says the company doubles sales every year and expects the trend to continue, but has no immediate plans to become profitable “in the short term.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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