03 January 2019
We’ve all been there: you’ve got a pain in your shoulder, but the next appointment with the orthopaedist isn’t for another two months. You really need a new tooth, but the deposit required for the best available crown is more than you can afford. Sophie Chung wants to change this. Her online platform, Qunomedical, seeks to help patients find the best and most affordable doctors or clinics. Whether overseas or around the corner in your home town.
Dr. Sophie Chung
CEO and founder of Qunomedical, licenced medical practitioner, worked previously with McKinsey as a strategy consultant and Zocdoc in New York as Director of Healthcare Strategy International.
What is “Qunomedical”?
Qunomedical is a digital platform that offers patients access to affordable treatments and short waiting times for medical experts, both at home and abroad. We want to help patients find the “right doctor”: they’re there when I need them; I can afford them; and they know what they’re doing. With our data-driven approach, we can help patients find a doctor who meets all these criteria.
How does that work exactly?
In the first step, patients can use our website to get detailed information about treatments, hospitals and doctors. They can ask for help or request a specific treatment. Once we’ve understood all their needs and wishes and all the necessary data are available, we go to our database to find qualified doctors and clinics that meet patient requirements. We then propose treatment options to the patients - including an estimate of the costs - and sort out any questions. The work we do in advance allows patients to make an informed decision regarding their treatment. If a suitable option presents itself, we coordinate the appointments and the travel. We take care of patients both during and after the treatment and are always available for any questions or concerns. Our service is free of charge to patients.
"Increasing health-care costs and waiting times and ever greater levels of specification in medicine make it very hard for lay people to keep a clear overview. And it’s exactly here that my idea for Qunomedical comes into play."
How did the idea come about?
I first got a direct sense of the complexity of the health care issue when I was facilitating access to medical care provision in Cambodia via an NGO. At the time I thought it was a third world problem. My work as a doctor in Australia and as a strategy consultant in the healthcare practice at McKinsey quickly disabused me of this notion. Wherever they are in the world - in Germany and elsewhere - patients are often confronted with the limits of the health system in operation. Increasing health-care costs and waiting times and ever greater levels of specification in medicine make it very hard for lay people to keep a clear overview. And it’s exactly here that my idea for Qunomedical comes into play. We see ourselves as guides and neutral confidants on the Internet who are on the side of the patient and - based on a proprietary rating system, an algorithm - help them find a doctor in Germany or abroad. There’s never been anything like this on the market before.
The practice of looking abroad for a doctor has gained a bad reputation in Germany under the heading of “medical tourism”. What’s your view on this reservation?
To be honest, it’s for precisely this reason that I don't like the term “medical tourism”. Many people immediately think of cheap cosmetic surgery in Asia that goes horribly wrong - and of course there are such cases, since there’s no smoke without fire. At the same time, the term implies that you have to travel all around the world for treatment. This isn’t what we’re about at Qunomedical. We are the byword for very high treatment quality at an affordable price, with very fast availability. After all, a doctor can be available pretty quickly, even if he or she is in another country. They don’t necessarily have to be practising in another country – they must just as easily be next door or in your own town. But that's the point: it’s all about clarifying the available options.
How do you proceed when it comes to the selection of doctors and hospitals? In other words, How do you make sure that I will actually find the best doctors for me as a patient?
We went over to a data-driven approach at an early stage. Our proprietary scoring system, Qunoscore, guarantees the choice of hospitals and medical specialists worldwide. The criteria that we evaluate include, for example, the training and experience of the physicians, the accreditations and certifications of hospitals and doctors, and patient reviews. Just so you know, it doesn’t matter if the clinic is in Germany or abroad - we use exactly the same criteria to assess it. Nor do we review the quality of the clinics once only: it’s an ongoing process. This enables us to ensure that our partners always satisfy our high quality standards.
What's next for Qunomedical?
In the coming year we’ve set ourselves the particular targets of growing and becoming more efficient. We want to help even more patients and to be the first port of call when it comes to health issues.
"We see ourselves as guides and neutral confidants on the Internet who are on the side of the patient."
And the biggest challenge is...
... to put ourselves under scrutiny every single day and to be our own most stringent critic.
Which digital product has yet to be invented?
I would choose something which doesn’t need inventing but does need to be built: the Qunomedical app.
Which digital products can you do without?
Digital books, as I prefer the feel and smell of paper.
Would you like a household robot?
What for? We’ve already got men ;-)
Which technical application will always remain something of a conundrum for you?
When were you last offline for 24 hours?
When I climbed Denali, the highest mountain in North America, back in May. Two weeks at minus 30 degrees in snow and ice quickly get you back in touch with reality.
A holiday without Wi-Fi - is that a dream or a nightmare?
A nightmare, absolutely no question! So much of what goes on in my private life takes place in digital space - and I don’t want to be cut off from that just because I’m on holiday.
In the #explore format we’re giving a regular voice to exciting and inspiring people from the digital scene - to researchers, bloggers, start-up founders, entrepreneurs, hackers, and visionaries.