Hubert Burda Media, a globally operating media and tech company, is selling its online health marketplace Jameda to the healthcare unicorn Docplanner.
Florian Weiß, CEO of leading physician rating website in Germany Jameda, is experiencing a spectacular upswing thanks to Corona: Within weeks, the number of digital consultation hours has increased sixfold. In this interview*, Florian Weiß talks about telemedicine in times of Corona, and how the crisis will change the way we consult our doctor in the long run.
You have been offering free video consultation hours via your platform since the beginning of March. Who has been using this offer that is valid for six months?
We have mainly offered our free service to those who are particularly affected by the crisis: general practitioners, internists, pediatricians, and midwives. The use of general practitioners has increased the most since patients who believe they are infected with Corona are consulting their GPs first, who in turn need to protect themselves and their employees.
So doctors are primarily concerned about protecting themselves?
Not primarily – their main concern is to provide certainty and confidence because many patients are very insecure at the moment. Using digital video consultations, doctors can provide reassurance for patients who e.g. just have a slight cough and directly associate it with the virus.
Doctors are only one side of the coin – how do patients accept the new offers? Are they willing and able to use their computer to talk to their doctor?
More and more patients are willing to use digital video consultations due to the current crisis and its accelerating effect. In the lead up to Corona, we saw that acceptance – both from doctors and patients – would take more time. But now they are more or less forced to use video consultation hours. As a result, their fear disappears, and it feels like a usual doctor’s appointment.
So how high are your numbers of digital consultation hours?
The number of doctors and psychotherapists who use Jameda’s video consultations service has approximately quadrupled between February and March. In March, there were about 10,000 video consultations – that is about a sixfold increase from before.
Why did it take a crisis for video consultations to be accepted on a grand scale?
I’m sure we would have received a broader acceptance despite Corona but not within such a short period of time. Doctors and patients are forced into using the system because of the crisis. By using it, they experience that digital consultation hours are a good alternative to the usual doctor’s appointments. Previously, the greatest obstacle was simply the fear of the unknown, and the lack of knowledge of the digital alternative.
Is the development going to last and, in other words, will telemedicine continue after the crisis?
The current growth rates will certainly not last forever, but the use of video consultation hours will continue to increase. It will permanently establish itself as a treatment alternative. I like to compare this with the rise of e-commerce: In the beginning, people always pointed out that they bought a book “on the internet” – nobody mentions that anymore. In a few years, the development of video consultation hours will be similar.
*The interview was conducted by Michal Kroker, Editor Digital/Innovations at "Wirtschaftswoche"