Although the fax machine still serves in general practices, digitization is also breaking through in primary care. For example, the online tool Liv helps to coach patients with mild psychological questions more effectively. The Groningen startup Coachjezelf developed Liv in collaboration with internet agency Coolminds and Hanze University Groningen. Investments from the NOM and G-Force Capital make it possible to convince the still somewhat unaccustomed market.
The first twenty-five general practitioners have already crossed the line. "Their practice supporters mental health care (POH-GGZ) mainly report back that Liv is reinforcing," says Jean-Luc Donders, the inspired entrepreneur behind Coachjezelf. "Patients engage in exercises faster on their mobile or tablet, and practice support workers can see their progress online. This makes the face-to-face appointments more in-depth, which works more effectively. Liv's strength lies in the combination of self-reliance and personal contact with a healthcare professional. Both the patients and the practice supporters get more control over the process with this tool."
E-health on the rise
Donders notes that general practitioners themselves are not yet in a hurry to digitize, but stresses that government and health insurers are already fully encouraging e-health. "Healthcare, too, must move with a world that increasingly uses online capabilities. Digitization offers solutions to waiting lists, rising costs and the call for more personal control in care. GPs also see this development, but when it comes to integrating online opportunities into their own practices, they are still on the threshold. With Liv, they can take a smooth first step because it is very user-friendly and responds to a need. Especially among digitally proficient patients."
The Liv app is the result of a unique collaboration between Coachjezelf, internet agency Coolminds and Hanzehogeschool Groningen. "We hooked up with the Innovation Workshop E-mental health for the POH-GZZ of the Centre of Expertise Healthy Ageing within the Hanzehogeschool," Donders explains.
"Because of student research, the content of our database is well founded. Moreover, they make a good online translation of psycho-education and assignments by working with shorter texts and more images. A great example is the 'Positive Diary' section, where you can now upload pictures to describe beautiful moments. That's exactly why Liv fits so well in this day and age."
Investment managers Klaas Kooistra (NOM) and Marco de Jong (G-Force) both got excited by the power of the online tool and Liv's connection to developments in society and healthcare. "The market is a challenge because many GP practices are not yet so IT-minded," Kooistra states. "But they are overcoming that cold feet because of the digital zeitgeist. And if I believe in anything, it's the passion and professionalism of this entrepreneur. Jean-Luc has handled it so thoroughly that his efforts will pay off left or right." De Jong adds: "The key question I ask myself as an investor is: do I see this entrepreneur doing it? And my answer to that is a resounding yes. Especially with this wonderful and scalable product."
In funding Coachjezelf, the click, trust and "good feeling" were the deciding factors for NOM and G-Force. Exactly what Liv also needs as a product to become a success among GPs. "Everything is right about this online tool; it's mainly a matter of practices having the courage to start using it," says Donders. "That's why a good introduction is half the battle. It helps that my previous career has made me familiar with the world of general practices. And thanks to the funding from the NOM and G-Force, I can now bring in reinforcements for marketing and sales so that Liv gets a serious chance. She certainly deserves it, because a balanced combination of online and offline care has the future."