“People should trust their telephones”

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.

T. What else?

I.M. 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.

T. What’s the reaction been?

I.M. 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.

T. What’s the main obstacle?

I.M. 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.

T. Can virtual consultations replace face-to-face doctor’s visits?

I.M. 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.

T. Have you faced any regulatory issues?

I.M. 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.

T. Is it easy to launch an online consultation platform?

I.M. 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.