Doctorly Is Leading German Healthcare Into the 21st Century
All entrepreneurs in Germany have to deal with their fair share of bureaucracy—but how many entrepreneurs would choose it?
Meet Anna von Stackelberg, CCO & cofounder of Doctorly, who is taking the most heavily-regulated sectors in Germany head-on with a new cloud-powered medical practice management platform that’s positioned to successfully digitize the German healthcare system for both doctors and patients.
Anna describes Doctorly as an infrastructural transformation comparable to “changing the tracks the trains run on, not just the trains themselves–a really fundamental structural change that will allow for more interconnectivity in German healthcare between doctors and their patients.” Doctorly was founded because Anna and her cofounders were frustrated by Germany’s analog, paper-based medical system–but as they developed the platform, they uncovered a system of regulated healthcare that was still stuck in the late 80s or early 90s in terms of tech and regulation. The current tech used is so outdated that doctors often still resort to fax rather than wrangle with the slow and clumsy system, whose data and processes are tied up in heavy, 30+ years old regulation. There’s zero chance for patients and doctors to transparently share information, and Doctorly is on a mission to change that.
So how does one startup approach changing a monolithic system? Anna says the good news is that doctors are so fed up with the current software that they have welcomed disruption. Anna describes the status quo as “a monopoly that controls the doctor by controlling the software”, with two main providers who own up to 80% of the market share with software that hasn’t changed in decades.
With even more regulatory and systemic hoops to jump through than most founders, Anna sought expert support in taking her product to market. She approached the Google for Startups Immersion: Women Founders program with KPIs including business development, leadership and public speaking. Anna credits her mentors with helping her build her confidence in team management and negotiation, and leaning more heavily into her role as Doctorly’s spokesperson. “I was starting to do a lot of public speaking, which I took on because I always feel that women are underrepresented in medicine and tech. Even though it's not my natural go-to, I felt that I have a duty to represent.” She says the program helped her to be comfortable with stage presence, presenting under time restrictions, and “having the feeling that I got all the right stuff across and did it in a way that I feel like I've done a good job.”
“The need for digitization and connectivity to patients has become crystal clear to doctors.”
Doctorly’s commitment to outreach and their collaborative approach has resulted in cooperation from the regulating bodies who want to see more innovation and movement, including the Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung (KBV), the national medical software-regulating body who are backing a change from the rigidity and long regulatory processes of the existing system.
Anna says the system is changing because “The need for digitization and connectivity to patients has become crystal clear to doctors.” This need was emphasized by the pandemic: Between January and July 2020, the number of specialist practices in Berlin that offer video consultations increased from four to 2300 practices.
Anna’s biggest advice to other founders building anything transformational, especially if it requires so much regulatory approval, is to be patient: “We were super ambitious when we started this–we expected it to take a year. But we've learned that it isn't all up to us, and it’s more time-consuming than if we were just building an app.”
Anna says that patience also applies to a founder’s personal growth and learning. “It doesn't happen overnight–you have to give yourself the time and the space to grow. You’re going to make mistakes, and learn from them. You're never going to be perfect from the get-go–and that’s OK.”
Founders Book Club
What book are you reading right now?
Normal People by Sally Rooney. It's super fun, just a sweet book about these teenagers in a complicated love relationship. My work is so technical in nature that I need some respite through reading non-business related books!
Immersion: Women Founders is a 12-week, skill-building mentorship program for high potential women-led startups selected from startup communities across Europe, including the UK and Israel. The program aims to address predominant challenges for women founders in the startup ecosystem with the aim to close the gender gap, ensuring more equal access to funding, and leveraging strong professional networks.
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