Healthcare data

I had coffee with Erden Asena, the founder of Doktorsitesi (“doctor site” in Turkish), this morning. With over 2.8M monthly unique visitors, Doktorsitesi is Turkey’s largest patient to doctor Q&A platform.

Patients can ask questions about the problems they’re experiencing to the specialized doctors on the platform. If the problem is too complex to be solved through an on-platform textual exchange, the patient can also make an appointment to visit the doctor in person.

In the future, Doktorsitesi has the opportunity to offer patients the ability to engage in video chats with doctors. This would be used for those problems that require more in-depth interaction than a textual exchange but don’t call for an in-person appointment. The cost would be higher than a textual exchange (Doktorsitesi allows patients to ask doctors one question per month for free and up to 10 questions per month for 5 TL which is roughly $2 at the time of this writing) but lower than an in-person visit.

In addition to facilitating different forms of patient to doctor interaction, Doktorsitesi sits on a massive amount of data from the textual exchanges (open forums and private messages) that take place on its platform. The content of the exchanges contains valuable information such as the prevalence of diseases, recommended treatments, and medications offered by doctors. Once anonymized, this information can be further sliced according to demographic information like region, a patient’s age, and gender, as well as across time. This makes it extremely valuable for players like pharmaceutical companies, fast moving consumer goods companies, and insurance firms who can make better decisions based on this data.

The scarcity of such information in the traditionally opaque healthcare industry makes it that much more valuable. Think about it. When picking where to eat out, we have tens of restaurant review sites available to guide our decision. However, when making a much more critical decision about what treatment to receive, which medication to take, or which doctor to visit, we overwhelmingly rely on anecdotal evidence from our family and friends.

We could be making much more informed decisions. Doktorsitesi is just scratching the surface of its vision to address this problem not only for consumers, but for all the actors in the healthcare ecosystem.