Guest: Dr Ben Hurst
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Ben is the CEO of HotDoc, a Melbourne-based startup, which has developed Australia’s most trusted Patient Engagement Platform. Ben’s career zigzagged from Geelong intern to Warrnambool Emergency resident, Port Phillip Prison psychiatrist, and New York novelist, before he settled down as the entrepreneur of a Healthtech company. HotDoc’s founding principle is to help Australian patients and health professionals communicate more effectively.
Segment overview: Dr Ben Hurst talks about HotDoc, an app that facilitates the process of communication between patients and GPs through online appointments. It was founded in 2012 after realising the opportunity to streamline how GPs and patients communicate health information. Currently, HotDoc provides services to various healthcare providers ranging from Australia’s biggest practice groups like Sonic Healthcare and Healthscope to single-GP practices.
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar today and my guest joins me from Australia. He is Ben Hurst of HotDoc. It’s an app and Ben is here to tell us what it is and what it does. Ben welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Ben Hurst: Thanks a lot, good to be here. Thank you for spelling out our name as well by the way, we often get confused with hotdog and it’s good to get that clear from the outset.
W: It’s HotDoc, D-O-C, don’t go looking for hotdog or we’ll end up in a sausage in a bread roll. Tell us what it is, I know it’s an app but tell us what it is and it does?
B: Wayne when you think about those you use as patient engagement platform. We built a way that makes it much easier for medical professionals especially Australian GPs and patients to communicate and part of that is through a mobile app. The mobile app is mostly around online medical components. We see it as a way that helps build efficiencies for the medical professional but also improve communications.
W: This is something that patients with their doctors use?
B: Yes, so exactly right. Our customers are health professionals and generally speaking GP in medical centers are our sweet spot. What we do is we have software that talks directly to their practice scheduling software and then we’re able to publish the availabilities online and let patients book in real-time.
W: I see. There’s been a trend in the last few years to kind having a family doctor and more being opportunistic about where we can get an appointment. I guess it suits that style of patients really well.
B: It does. We actually are trying to draw a little bit of a distinction there. We definitely provide a service for more patients but we really do focus on building the relationship with your existing doctor. Patients that use our app, they have the ability to let their preferred clinic and their preferred doctor and once they’ve done that we try and streamline the workflow so that they’re very much … work with their existing provider.
W: From my clinical point of view, probably a wise decision because it’s in my ignorance it strikes me that you like to begin a better medical service, if you’re with a doctor that knows you and knows some of your history rather than relying on six minutes of background.
B: Absolutely. I think there are three types of healthcare appointments. One is quite transactional, a patient might come in with chest pain (audio problem) to antibiotic, they take it and get better. Sometimes that doesn’t require any existing relationship but if your patients have a complex medical history, multiple conditions perhaps or there might be mental health challenges in the future as well. Your health is also affected by your demographic, who you are, what you do, what’s your … and it’s really, really hard in that 6 minute consultation to go with that information and do their clinical decision. We really, really do support the notion of continuum of care.
W: I’m in conversation with Ben Hurst the CEO of HotDoc, an app that facilitates the process of seeing a clinician. Ben does it extend beyond GPs? Does this still with other health providers?
B: It does. We are very much focused on GPs because we see them as a kind of the primary reservoir for healthcare interaction. But we do offer or provide services to allied health professionals and some specialists. Probably the breakdown is 90% Gps and maybe 5% allied health and 5% specialists.
W: That’s an interesting breakdown. Many of our audience are clinicians of one kind or another. We got a lot of people in acute care and a lot of listeners who work on the acute care and in an aged care and also allied health professionals. The use of HotDoc has been around what, 5-6 years now?
B: It’s about 4 years.
W: Four years. Where do you see it going next Ben? Because you’re Australian based now, do you see a global market for this?
B: Yes. Look we really want to put down our roots in Australia and make sure that we have a really strongly consolidated market here. But we are definitely interested in looking at the opportunities aboard. We feel that built a very complex software platform that’s really effective at engaging patients when health is mostly in mind. That clinicians of course in Australia and outside Australia would benefit on it.
W: It’s interesting because we’re broadcasting in a number of countries. People are all the same, but the medical systems in different countries are quite different. Do you anticipate any complexities in adapting to other countries?
B: Yes, actually. It’s not something that should be done half-hearted, we really do want to I guess look at opportunities initially of healthcare markets that have commonalities with Australia. I think the UK and … system is one that we can look at. One of the other challenges that we have is that we’re trying to be an interruptible platform so we want to able to talk to other software platforms and we have to build up those extra integrations … to consider internationally expansion so definitely significant change there but they’re all certainly … possible.
W: If you just joined us in our Health Professional Radio, I’m in conversation with Ben Hurst the CEO of HotDoc, don’t confuse it with hotdog. HotDoc, an app that facilitates patient engagements with clinicians and particularly in layman’s term I guess helps you make appointments with your GP. Ben I read your bio before we came on air and I noticed that you’re a clinician yourself. Is this a shift from clinical practice to e-health and IT been in a good move?
B: Yes, I love it. I love every second of it. It’s a … challenge to being an entrepreneur. As a clinician I love engaging patients but I also felt a little bit constrained by the needs to implement best evidence, knowledge and be able to follow a really kind of rope method to provide the best sort of healthcare. What has been great for me in entering to the e-health though is being able to use that knowledge to combine it with a level of creativity to look at disruptive solutions that can hopefully better patient outcome in the long run.
W: We need more disruptors in the world. That’s the secret to the internet world and certainly when it comes to e-health, the health industry I’ll get into trouble for saying this but it is a little bit like to last great cottage industry in the world. One of the things that changes that is the implementation of e-health so congratulations on HotDoc. For people who are interested in more information, Ben how can they get hold of you, how they get more information?
B: They can visit the HotDoc at wwwhotdoc.com.au. We have a Contact Us page with email addresses that they can access in and get in touch with the team and even myself. That’s a one place to start.
W: That address again, pencils ready, www.hotdoc.com.au and following that you can also find that address on our website along with the transcript and an audio archive of this interview at www.hpr.fm. We’ve been in conversation with Ben Hurst of HotDoc. My name is Wayne Bucklar and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.