Digital solutions that facilitate remote healthcare have been one of the resounding successes of recent years and Europe’s telemedicine market is forecast to continue to grow at a rate of 18.8% per year between 2022 and 2027.
Unlike the predominantly privately funded model familiar to U.S. patients, healthcare provision in Europe is characterized by National Health Services and universal insurance contributions. As such, business models for telehealth solutions revolve around integrating the technology into national health services and providing alternative options to patients that complement existing publicly funded delivery models.
One of the continent’s largest telehealth providers, Kry, has grown from its Swedish origins to providing remote consultations and digital prescription services to patients in Norway, Germany, France and the U.K. In the latter two, it operates under the Livi brand.
A big part of Kry’s success has come from forging partnerships with national and regional healthcare providers.
Unlike other telehealth models that build a network of medical professionals and then market their services directly to patients, Kry focuses on training doctors to carry out remote consultations and then signing service agreements with public healthcare institutions who then offer their patients remote options through Kry’s platform.
More on this: Swedish Telehealth Company Kry Raises $160M
The business model has been strong enough that its Series D funding round in 2021 valued the company at over $2 billion. This month, Kry announced that it has picked up a further $160 million to add to last year’s Series D.
Low-Cost Remote Model
Among the appeals of remote healthcare delivery is its relatively low cost compared to in-person alternatives.
As Thomas Grellner, CEO at German MedTech startup Smedo, told PYMNTS, “[Insurance companies] are interested in having low fees that align with the costs in the healthcare market, and that is where we come in to deliver a really interesting product for this market.”
He added that overcoming the certification challenge in the highly regulated EU market makes the transition to other countries easier, especially to the U.S. market where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require additional certification on top of an EU certification.
“Our goal is to get the certification in the most regulated [EU] market and from there spread it out easily to all other markets,” Grellner said. “Our aim is to not only develop the product for the European market but to compete in markets around the world.”
As well as helping to drive down costs, telehealth solutions can fill healthcare provision gaps where distance, a limited pool of specialists and other hurdles can make accessing the right services through traditional means difficult.
For example, another German HealthTech, Wellster, has launched a MySummer to give female patients access to a team of doctors from the fields of gynecology, urology and dermatology through a dedicated digital portal.
Prior to launching MySummer, Wellster had already had success with Spring, its telehealth platform dedicated to men’s sexual and lifestyle health.
As Wellster Co-Founder Dr. Manuel Nothelfer told PYMNTS, “We first wanted to focus on men’s health to perfect all our services in one area first — and because men shy away from a doctor’s appointment even more often than women.”
Despite the role firms like Wellster are playing in shaking up Europe’s healthcare ecosystem, Nothelfer cautioned against revolutionary narratives of the disruptive technology. “We want our patients to feel like they are in the right space every step of the way. We do this by changing the healthcare market, not revolutionizing it,” he said, adding that “a normal pharmacy can’t just be taken over by the online version.”
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Nothelfer’s sentiment is echoed by Alessandro Ambrosio, CEO and co-founder of Italian digital health platform EpiCura. Ambrosio told PYMNTS that “we want to be there where people need us, not only on the phone, not only on the app, but also in person.”
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