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Doctolib: why the viral success of the leader of the medical appointment is also causing concern


The phenomenal success of the application with doctors and patients has made the French start-up, now valued at more than one

For 45 million French people, the gesture has almost become commonplace.

Before going to consult your general practitioner, physiotherapist or podiatrist, you launch the Doctolib application in search of an available day and time slot.

An approach that says a lot about the place occupied in the field of health by this application co-founded in 2013 by Stanislas Niox-Château, Jessy Bernal, Ivan Schneider and Steve Abou Rjeily.

And the vaccination campaign for which the State (moreover present in the capital via Bpifrance, the public investment bank) relied heavily on Doctolib only anchored the phenomenon a little more.

“This is the greatest success of recent years among French start-ups,” according to Gilles Babinet, expert in digital economy and currently co-chair of the National Digital Council.

The application has become part of the lives of French people, with no less than 40 million monthly appointments made with 140,000 healthcare professionals using their practice management software provided by the company.

The young growth, which now employs 1,600 people, has in the meantime become a unicorn (that is to say valued at more than one billion euros) giving in the process some wrinkles to our Vitale card.

Above all, it has enabled the health sector to make a gigantic technological leap forward.

"The application arrived at the right place at the right time to facilitate the patient-caregiver relationship", summarizes an ophthalmologist from Hauts-de-Seine, user for four years instead of his telephone secretary.

"It relieves me of all the administrative part which is not my core business," adds Christophe Roumier, physiotherapist in Finistère and member of the Doctolib medical committee.

I used to make appointments by phone, which at the end of the day took me an hour.

I am more available for my patients, I have been able to open up new niches and my turnover is increasing.



How Doctolib made its teleconsultation software available

Configurable as desired, the app also satisfies the medical profession with its price.

"It costs me 129 euros per month", summarizes Christophe Roumier.

A small fee when compared to that of a classic medical secretary.

On the patient side, the extremely simple and free use of the tool is also unanimous.

“We are a young French company that has responded to a huge need in a sector that was very unequal, complex and opaque,” ​​sums up Stanislas Niox-Château, 34, who mentions in particular the delays in finding a practitioner.

From this expectation, we make it a daily service.

We made access to care more equal, faster and reduced missed appointments.

Critics argue for their part that the service promotes medical nomadism and allows certain specialists to select only the most profitable acts.

Teleconsultation offered during the first confinement

Well established before the health crisis, Doctolib could have been shaken by the first confinement and the drop in activity by half recorded among general practitioners or by 70% among specialists, when dentist and physiotherapy practices simply closed.

Here again, society has shown itself to be indispensable in coming to the rescue of a distraught State.

“There was a problem of continuity of care.

We decided to deploy teleconsultation for free, ”says the co-founder of Doctolib.

With the key a multiplication by 100 (!) Of the number of teleconsultations, passed from now on to one million per month.

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An essential partner, the start-up was even more so when the Covid-19 vaccination campaign was launched in January.

How to manage the millions of appointments that were bound to be made?

Health insurance and regional health agencies (ARS) were faced with a colossal digital challenge.

And, there again, Doctolib arrived to develop, "with 200 engineers mobilized night and one day", a software capable of managing a massive appointment setting.

In a hurry, the government decided and appointed without going through a call for tenders Doctolib but also its competitors Maiia and Keldoc to manage consultation requests in the 1,500 centers spread across France.

Without the trio, one can wonder how the State would have managed to lead a campaign that was also slipping in terms of logistics and vaccine supply.

Badly protected health data?

Everything would be fine for the leader in e-health if its ubiquity didn't start to cause some concern.

On March 25, in front of parliamentarians, Dr. Jean-Paul Hamon loses his temper.

"By giving the emails and cell phones of the French, we are currently making gifts to Doctolib", denounces the honorary president of the Federation of Doctors of France.

Statements similar to those heard a few weeks earlier at the Council of State.

Seized in summary proceedings by several plaintiffs denouncing the vaccine partnership against Covid-19 between Doctolib and the Ministry of Health, the highest administrative court of the country dismissed the latter.

"It was

circulate, there's nothing to do

, denounces their lawyer Juliette Alibert.

While crucial questions arise about the hosting of data and the very nature of the data stored.


Stanislas Niox Chateau CEO Doctolib

Levallois-Perret (Hauts-de-Seine), February 11, 2020. No less than 40 million appointments are made each month with the help of Doctolib, the start-up co-founded by Stanislas Niox-Château in 2013. LP / Yann Foreix

The group of complainants knows that the order was taken in a context of health emergency but above all points to the identity of the host: Amazon Web Services which, as an American company, is subject to the legislation of this country.

"However, the authorities of the United States do not recognize the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)", adds Me Laurence Huin, specialized in the field of health.

“Moreover, the Council of State itself recognized in October 2020, in another case, that there was a risk of seeing the American intelligence services requesting access to data hosted in Europe from actors subject to American law.



Hackers siphon 6,000 appointment data from Doctolib

So Doctolib would not be careful enough with data which constitutes a veritable pile of gold?

The trial of intent makes Stanislas Niox-Château jump.

“The Council of State only confirmed that they were effectively protected.

The data belongs to the patients.

They can leave us overnight by picking them up.

Ditto for health professionals.

"As for security, the manager believes that" shakes a red rag ".

“There is no such thing as 100% protection, those who say otherwise are lying.

But we have a level of security among the highest in the world, ensures the dynamic thirty-something, former high-level tennis player graduated from HEC.

Several ciphers take place during transit or storage (rest).

As for the decryption keys, they are with another host, this one French (

Editor's note: Atos


Finally, there is end-to-end encryption for medical documents and office software.


Doctolib's success fascinates and worries at the same time.

“I understand the criticism, admits its president.

We need absolute and clear transparency.

But I do not understand the disinformation which aims to throw to food an entrepreneur who creates 100 jobs per month and a company present in the territories with a positive social impact.

“Not enough to slow down for the moment the progress of the European champion of e-health, who gained a foothold in Germany for almost four years, where she currently organizes… vaccination for the city of Berlin.

Source: leparis

All business articles on 2021-04-03

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