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News  12, Jun 2013

Marketing challenges the newly merged DocDoc will have to face

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docdoc doctorpageDocDoc has just announced their merger with Doctorpage, both Singapore-based e-health portals. What are some marketing challenges the two will have to face?

Singapore-based e-health portal DocDoc has just announced their merger with their counterpart Doctorpage. This agreement will create a combined company ideally positioned to drive more patients to doctors, deliver a better experience for patients and enhance services for its doctors.

Let’s look at some basic stats: Back in January, DocDoc announced that they currently have over 1,000 doctors using their platform to acquire customers. The numbers include doctors in Singapore as well as Korea. DocDoc has over 500,000 “engaged users” searching for health related information and healthcare services each month.

Its counterpart DoctorPage followed suit and announced that they are now listing more than 12,500 doctors on their platform, with 1,500 book-able doctors. It was also reported that they have more than 300,000 monthly unique visitors. This was back in March. Here’s a snap shot from Alexa to give you a better idea of their current traffic:

Are they doing well?

Healthcare is a multi-billion dollar industry. When someone falls ill, they are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on medical advices, if they can afford it. Which is why both DocDoc and DoctorPage are joining forces to become Asia’s premier e-health portal, tapping on this lucrative industry. But how lucrative is the e-health portal industry? When we asked Jon Samsel, the Chief Marketing Officer of DocDoc, they were unable to release any information about its current revenue or number of appointments booked.

Marketing challenges ahead

The main question is, “Will the newly merged entity DocDoc be able to get the traction it needs from patients?” The traditional healthcare industry, especially that in Southeast Asia, very much relies on referrals and word of mouth. The fact that DocDoc needs to join forces with DoctorPage and leverage on their “expertise” in digital marketing and patient acquisition suggests that while it may be easy to list doctors on their e-health portal, it could be hard to attract and retain users. According to Alexa, search engines refer about 2 percent of visits to DocDoc’s website, and while Doctorpage’s Google Ads seems to be performing better than DocDoc’s, with approximately 40% of visits to Doctorpage being bounces (one page view only). User retention is definitely something which the newly formed team will have to focus on.

The typical customer experience goes like this: I have a bad migraine, and I need a doctor. I’ll flag a cab down and head to the nearest hospital. I wouldn’t want to spend time launching my Internet browser, and then browse through the thousands of available doctors. Discovery channels for DocDoc would definitely need to be beefed up. They can’t be just relying on online advertisements. We should expect to hear more from the team in the near future given their newly merged entity with extra resources.

Another marketing challenge DocDoc would have to face is this: potential customers and patients would mostly be less educated in medical terms than the Gen-Y who are born and raised in this technology era. If DocDoc were to target this group of older customers, it would be helpful to explain what “Ophthalmologist” or “Podiatrist” means to them. Most of the time, patients are facing the symptoms for the first time and will have no clue what they are looking at. DocDoc would have to help patients understand exactly what are they looking for.

Maybe the approach of booking doctors should be changed. Instead of selling the solution (dentist, neurosurgeon, psychologist), DocDoc should be selling the symptoms. Based on the symptoms, the appropriate doctors with the right expertise can then be referred to the patients. Perhaps this is one of the new “product and features” DocDoc will soon be releasing, but is unable to reveal much today.

DocDoc is backed by key investors such as Mr Koh Boon Hwee (former Chairman of DBS bank, Singtel, and Singapore Airlines), 500 Startups, Jungle Ventures and Michael Brehm. There are approximately 30 people working in the newly formed company.

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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