Dr Aifric Boylan is a Melbourne GP who is behind the online medical business Qoctor. It was founded by a group of doctors who could see that patients were still being forced to make face-to face appointments for simple health issues that could easily be addressed online.
Dr Boylan told She Hacks News, people manage so many aspects of their lives online these days- but healthcare has lagged far behind.
“Qoctor was conceived to address that problem, and to give patients some choice. With demands on public health services increasing all the time, if some of the more straight-forward issues can be solved online, it frees up clinics and surgeries to deal with people who really need to attend a doctor in person,” Dr Boylan said.
Dr Boylan was born and raised in Dublin, the eldest of six children. She immigrated to Australia in 2014 with her husband and two sons.
“Patients are ready and waiting online, but the healthcare system is still using fax machines and sending letters in the post!”
“In Australia, General Practice is better resourced, and I can help my patients much more effectively. But there’s a lot of untapped potential in technology, in terms of delivering healthcare. Patients are ready and waiting online, but the healthcare system is still using fax machines and sending letters in the post! I was lucky enough to start my life as an Aussie GP in a practice with a group of progressive and hard-working doctors, who felt the same- and together we have created something very fresh and exciting.”
Qoctor challenges the status quo of the medical world. It helps free up queues in medical centres and hospitals because minor issues can now be addressed online, for example, if a person has the common cold and needs to get a doctor’s certificate for time off work.
“Medicine has been conducted in the same traditional manner for a very long time- the patient is expected to bend to the demands of the system. Qoctor flips that on its head- it gives huge choice and accessibility to the patient.”
“However, it’s also Qoctor’s aim to preserve the best parts of traditional medicine- we take pride in conducting our online consultations to the very highest standard, and connecting with our patients in a personal way,” Dr Boylan said.
“We streamline processes and gather information beforehand whenever we can, to save time and improve efficiency for patients. This has the added advantage of enhancing safety, because certain key questions always get asked. For instance, with our online contraceptive pill prescribing pathway, a woman will be asked every time about any health conditions that may make that medication unsuitable for her. The reality is that this does not always happen in the setting of a rushed appointment in a busy clinic.”
Dr Boylan has some wise advice for women starting tech businesses and she admits she was rather daunted by the technology in the beginning.
“A lot of people getting involved in a tech start-up are trying to deliver an existing service or product in a new way, using technology. For me that service was medicine. I’ve learned it’s important to trust the experience and instincts you’ve got in your own area. The trick is to identify the core purpose and essence of what you do, and then try to make it even better, with the efficiencies of technology,” Dr Boylan said.
“Even very well-resourced online companies don’t necessarily come up with a great product, because they have not identified what’s at the very core of what they’re doing. You can spend a lot of money, but if you haven’t figured these central things out, it’s likely to fail. And, conversely, a smaller budget can go a long way, if you have a clear sense of what you’re trying to achieve.”
Dr Boylan suggests getting a good IT person on your team, or close by your side.
“You will learn a lot if you are truly curious, and ask questions. You don’t have to be an expert in coding, but you need to know what you want a coder to do for you. It comes back to understanding your own product and purpose, and who you’re trying to reach.”
“Online businesses can be a bit like a swan- the elegant front page of a website can make you forget the degree of frenetic padding going on under the surface! Giving time and thought to the content of your website is essential- you need to find out what people are searching for online (using tinyranker or a similar tool), so that you can work towards ranking well on search engines for your keyword search terms. That’s how your customers will find you.”
“Whilst starting up in a tech related business may be a learning curve, the knowledge you bring from your area of expertise, and the authenticity of what you’re trying to do for your customer is where the real magic is. It’s good to remember that, especially when you feel any self-doubt creeping into your mind- which is pretty inevitable when you’re starting out!