31 January 2013
The Doctors, a company founded by IE Business School alumni Alberto Porciani and Lorena Bassas, serves as an interface between patients and top specialists. The Doctors is based on a successful US model which emerged over 20 years ago and which helps thousands of people each day to find the expert of medical center they need.
How did you come up with the idea for The Doctors?
Thedoctors.es was launched in September 2011 as a direct result of our personal experiences in the health sector. We noticed that many patients had no idea where to start when it came to choosing a specialist practitioner or expert in their particular case or condition. We also noticed that in Europe some 90% of patients rely on Internet to find medical information, while only 10% of doctors have their own website. We used focus groups with patients to confirm the little confidence they had in the internet when it came to finding a doctor, given that there was no way to find out which were the best specialists in the country in terms of specialization and medical treatment. That’s why we set up Thedoctors.es, the only initiative in Europe to respond to this kind of patient need. After 15 months it is still the only platform in Spain which, thanks to a rigorous selection process, identifies top-tier medical specialists in each area of specialization. Only one in ten specialists makes it through our selection process and is invited to form part of Thedoctors.es.
What do you offer doctors and patients?
Thedoctors.es furnishes doctors with a seal of quality and a direct channel of communication with the patient. They enter a select circle of top-level doctors. Hence it provides recognition of their professional trajectory. We also give them online visibility, positioning and reputation, not only through the website, but also with our magazine and communications using different media.
Patients are offered a top-quality service to help them in their search for the best doctors or specialized centers, and the possibility of organizing an appointment immediately in real time, with an expert in their condition. Moreover we can, if they wish, accompany them throughout the process, with personalized attention, online appointments, funding services or even telephone consultations. We guarantee the utmost reliability and precision.
Are there similar initiatives in other countries?
It is widespread in the US. Castle Connolly, America’s Top Doctors’ is the sector leader with over 20 years of experience. We have joined forces with them to grow in Spain and expand in Europe, where there is nothing similar. We aim to become the firm with the most credibility when it comes to selecting a leading doctor in Europe.
Tell us about new projects you have planned for The Doctors in the coming months.
We are about to present our new website which includes an online reservation service in real time (Instant Online Booking System). This service, which is very popular in the US, is new to Europe and enables patients to get an appointment with doctors 24/7. The medical world is undergoing the same technological metamorphosis as in other, more mature sectors like travel, hotel reservations, flights, etc., in which most bookings are already made via internet. Thedoctors.es supplies the medical sector with the technological framework needed to make this much demanded service a reality.
We also plan to continue growing in Spain by identifying 6,000 top doctors in all specializations and we are preparing launches is new European countries in 2013, starting with the UK and Italy.
How did the education you received at IE Business School help when it came to launching your business project?
We both rounded of our education at IE Business School. Alberto E. Porciani holds an Executive MBA and Lorena Bassas holds an International MBA. This postgraduate education afforded us the maturity and strength we needed to undertake any entrepreneurial initiative -Thedoctors.es is not the first company we set up. IE also gave us the tools to perform well in management positions in multinationals firms in the pharmaceutical sector.
How do you see the environment for creating new businesses in Europe? What kind of measures do you think are needed to make institutions provide support for entrepreneurs?
Limited access to funding and scant aid for entrepreneurs do not make for good conditions in which to create new businesses in Spain or Europe. In our opinion these are the most critical problems that startups currently face. In spite of this we are convinced that the innovative initiatives that respond to a clear social need will always be able to find private funding, even in times of crisis. They might have to look beyond Europe to find much-needed funding that will enable them to grow and consolidate their businesses in the Spanish and European market. Our case is a clear example of this. The alliance of our company with a leading US firm has not only permitted us to attract foreign capital, but has also provided us with the know how, the experience, and the credibility we needed to grow and consolidate ourselves in Europe.