We talked to Lucian Constantin, founder of Doctor 31, about online medical diagnostics, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Lucian Constantin: We are ok, our health has not been impacted by Covid. We try in our daily activity to avoid as much as possible the crowded places and to respect the indications of the authorities.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Doctor 31.
Lucian Constantin: The idea came in 2014 from the desire to change the wrong habit that people have when they don’t feel good: they use search engines and type in one or more symptoms and read the articles they find. The articles that appear are those best indexed, which most often have nothing to do with the medical condition at hand. Our goal is to provide users with personalized and quality medical information and to help them understand the medical condition and importance of a medical consultation, its type, and how urgently it is required.
How does Doctor 31 innovate in ca business?
Lucian Constantin: In terms of business, our main innovation is cost control and low monthly expenses. Especially in the early years of the project, we ran into a funding problem. And we had contact with many business angels, investment funds, so-called specialists in the field of financing start-ups. We made all kinds of applications and came to the conclusion that the chance to succeed in this way is close to zero, and we did not find viability. A part of the costs and work would have always been used to attract new investments, and we had the risk of being forced to pivot the product for economic reasons.
We decided that this style does not suit us and we decided to focus all our energy on product development and a more effective business management system that involves as little human labor as possible. It may sound crazy, but software never sleeps, does not delay work, always offers maximum efficiency, and does not leave for competitors for 300 euros extra salary, etc.
And we consider that we have succeeded. Currently, we can run the business with extremely low costs for our field. And focus our energy and resources to improve the product on a daily basis.
How does Doctor 31 innovate in e-health?
Lucian Constantin: An advantage over competitors is that we also take into account the result of medical (blood) tests if they exist. You have noticed that when you go to the doctor after, the first consultation he recommends some tests, and he chooses which ones depending on what medical conditions he suspects may be present, in order to be able to make a differential diagnosis. This is what our application does in a unique way.
!!! Confidentiality!!!. We are the only symptom checker application that does not require users to register in order to use the application. We consider that medical problems are intimate, and the purpose of our project is to help users while making them feel comfortable using the application, knowing that the data provided cannot be linked to their person.
We pay attention to the user and the problems he faces when he is not feeling well. For me, as a doctor, it is important that my work brings a positive contribution to the users’ lives, not to implement a business way in the medical field. I love medicine and people! The doctor-patient relationship must be a sincere one, based on the desire to do good to the patient not conditioned by all kinds of business tools.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Lucian Constantin: It did not affect us in any way, fortunately, our efficient financial and human resources management system proved its effectiveness.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Lucian Constantin: We didn’t have to make any choice in this regard, we have a solid team formed during the last years in which everyone has a well-established role and does the job with maximum efficiency.
We have never kept in our team people who do not share our desire to innovate and help internet users around the world and whose daily activity is not oriented towards becoming the best in the field.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Lucian Constantin: We do not have physical clients, so we cannot talk about measures or effects. The only difference was that physical encounters became online. Anyway, a good part of them were already online before 2020.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Lucian Constantin: NO! We did not even ask for such help considering that our activity was not affected.
Your final thoughts?
Lucian Constantin: After the experience of the last almost 7 years since we started Doctor31, we feel blessed, happy, and full of confidence. We managed to create a team and a sustainable business management model even in times of crisis. The year 2020 was a good year, a year in which we increased the number of users, validated two monetization models, developed new products, and won awards such as Most Innovative Personal Health Diagnostics Application and award for excellence in e-health 2020 hosted by Global Health & Pharma – Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Awards 2020.
We believe that our efforts to manage the project as effectively as possible bring us a big plus, with the help of which we can focus on fulfilling the purpose of the project: to help people when they are not feeling well. Not all people have the privilege of receiving health insurance and unlimited and instant access to doctors. With our product (Doctor31 application) we want to address people and we do not consider it as a tool that can be used in the triage process in hospitals, or other roles in insurance companies, etc.
Doctor31’s current disadvantages and future plans.
Lucian Constantin: All our attention was focused on the medical part of the product, the quality of the medical act, and the algorithm. Because the team was composed mostly of specialists in the medical and programming fields, we neglected the “user experience” part because we considered that the difficult part is the medical part and that the design aspects can be improved by anyone and at any time.
Now the time has come for this part of the project and we are working on a new version of the application that will be easier to use, to offer a pleasant and useful experience to its users. The new version of the application will be launched at the end of March. As for other Plans, we want to expand the project in other languages such as Spanish and French.