Docosan is a healthcare marketplace that helps doctors grow their practice and focus on providing quality care. To know more about Docosan’s story and the health-care sector in Vietnam, we interviewed Beth Ann Lopez , the Co-founder and CEO of Docosan.
-Interviewed by Shehnaz Ghadiali and Simran Kaur
INVC: What does your company do?
Beth: the private healthcare market in Vietnam is incredibly fragmented. There are over fifty thousand health clinics spread across the country. So that makes it very difficult for patients to navigate it. They choose their healthcare provider based on word of mouth recommendations, asking relatives where to go. This creates a big problem for the doctors because it limits their client base, getting referrals of people they have met before, making it difficult to run a private clinic.
We are creating a platform that provides transparency of information on both ends so that patients can find and book a reputable doctor. They can read real reviews about the doctors and see the prices and services, so there are no surprises when they show up. Best of all, they can book appointments online 24*7.
INVC: How did your company come to be?
Beth: I originally came to Southeast Asia in 2012, when I joined the Peace Corps to work on social developmental projects in Cambodia. I worked as a community health worker in a rural community near the Thai border. It was my first experience working in Asia in a community health setting, so I really got to see the challenges people face in accessing healthcare. After that, I spent some time as a consultant on a USAID project, did some other work in the public healthcare space, and ended up joining a Singaporean pharma tech startup called mClinica. There I lead the public affairs as well as launched an app for pharmacists in Vietnam and Cambodia.
So it was working with mClinica that I ended up in Vietnam, and realized how connected everyone one was and how in other industries, there has been incredible digital advancement. You can order a grab taxi anywhere in Vietnam with just a push of a button or food at affordable prices or anything else you want from an online marketplace.
But healthcare is still an area where people find themselves in crowded waiting rooms trying to find a good doctor. It was Public health meets tech intervention. Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing healthcare markets globally, but there still weren’t any international investments or startups working in the area. So it was the perfect time to grab this opportunity and start this intervention. Our long term goal with Docosan is to transform how people access healthcare in Vietnam. We want it to be as easy as booking a taxi on an app.
INVC: When did you start Docosan?
Beth: Docosan was incorporated in Vietnam in February of 2020. We launched the latest version of the product in April, and a couple of months after that, we got all of our required licenses from the Vietnamese government. Currently, there are over 70 doctors that are active on our platform. And as far as patients are concerned, around 2000 users have created an account and are using the platform. Additionally, users make hundreds of appointments on our app monthly. The number of users is growing significantly, by 20-40% per month, so we are trying to set formal operational processes to scale along with how fast we are adding doctors and patients.
INVC: How do you monetize?
Beth: It comes from the doctors’ end. It is free for the patients. The doctors pay a fee to have the monthly subscription as we help them connect to more patients and build their reputation.
INVC: Do you have competition?
Beth: Yes, we do have other healthcare start-ups in Vietnam. The business models are slightly different. Some connect patients and doctors, but they hire doctors for telemedicine consultants and write prescriptions. They also do medicine delivery. We are a full marketplace and don’t provide any medical services.
INVC: Who are the people behind Docosan?
Beth: Currently we have a team of 7 tech staff, 2 marketers, 1 salesperson and myself. We are working on expanding our sales team, especially for onboarding doctors since we do all our doctor onboarding in-person. The team also makes sure to check the medical practice certificates to make sure they are legally able to practice medicine in Vietnam as well as the clinic operation license.
INVC: Challenges currently facing?
Beth: People are used to going to big public hospitals by default. They are not familiar with using a mobile app to find a clinic. Also, not everyone can afford private healthcare. It is what we are trying to do currently. We want to send different patients to the private sector, reducing the crowd in public clinics. This reduces the burden on the public system.
INVC: Do doctors agree to use the app too?
Beth: Yes, the doctors do want to use Docosan. It helps them attract more patients than they would have otherwise. However, established, the doctors do want to use it and help more patients.
INVC: Would you like to expand to other countries?
Beth: Yes, definitely. We would like to expand to other countries in Asia. Even potentially to other parts of the world. This kind of model is well suited to large fragmented private sector systems. Maybe in Latin America is also where we think we could expand.
INVC: How much is the potential size of the market in Vietnam?
Beth: It is an $8 Million market in health care services. It is growing over 11% compound annual growth rate, which is faster than China too.
INVC: Do you see more requirements for specialized services?
Beth: From our initial users, we see a requirement in specialty care. Obstetrics and gynaecology, dermatology, and dentistry are the major ones.
INVC: How has coronavirus affected your start-up?
Beth: Yes, I think there is certainly more substantial interest in an intervention that allows you to not wait in a crowd, especially at a place like a hospital. We launched Docosan in the middle of the pandemic, and so it gave us a bit of time to focus on products and services.
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