Innovation overturns the status quo by offering a new solution to an old problem. As the co-founder and CEO of health care platform PetalMD, it’s something Patrice Gilbert has some experience in: His digital solution reduces the amount of administrative work for medical professionals by eliminating certain time-consuming tasks.
Sometime around 2010, Patrice Gilbert founded PetalMD along with Jason Sweeney and François-Pierre Bouchard. An electrical engineer by training, at the time Gilbert was looking around for a way to take advantage of the experience he had acquired as Director of Software Development with Taléo. The health care industry attracted his attention.
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Just say no to wasting time
An idea came to him when Gilbert met with friends who were doctors and heard about what their daily grind was like inside the system. “I was so discouraged. I could hardly believe that the system could be so inefficient, that it would be so slow in its handling of patients,” he recalls.
“It was because of that conversation that I discovered the four enemies of the health care system: the pager, the fax, the telephone and Excel. I made those my targets. As long as they continued to exist, bringing the health care system into the digital age would be impossible.”
One of the main time-wasters he identified was the creation of on-call schedules. Every year, a doctor spends between 100 and 200 hours constructing group schedules—hours spent puzzling over Excel sheets instead of caring for patients. “We solved this problem by completely digitizing the management process. With the Petal MD cloud platform, everyone enters their availability or swaps availabilities depending on their needs,” he explains.
The result? Time saved, which for some doctors amounts to as much as 100 hours each year, not to mention the reduction in help needed from administrative assistants, who no longer need to manually recopy schedules and can instead focus on other tasks.
The tool, the first of its kind launched by PetalMD, is enabling the company to build inroads into Quebec's system of hospitals.
«When we first approached hospitals, they initially refused to work with us. We were bringing solutions to problems they hadn't yet recognized. It was by proving our value with doctors themselves that we were finally able to get in the door.
– Patrice Gilbert
Success across the pond
To lighten the administrative burden even further for doctors, PetalMD added in 2014 an online appointment-making tool, a secure messaging system and a centralized digital library to facilitate the exchange of documents. Their platform has been adopted by 70% of Quebec doctors and has 35,000 users throughout Canada.
The company’s growth continues not just here, but on the other side of the Atlantic. In the summer of 2016, Gilbert and his partners were flown to Europe to visit Swiss, Belgian and Italian hospitals, where they observed health care systems burdened with the same problems that could be solved by PetalMD's system of tools. Since then, the platform has been deployed in Switzerland, and the entrepreneurs have a Belgian hospital in line as their next project.
In the near future, Gilbert hopes to continue to improve the range of tools he can offer medical professionals, or as he likes to say, “to add more petals to the flower.”
PetalMD in Numbers
- 60: number of employees
- 66,000: number of users (doctors and health professionals)
- 130: growth rate (as a percentage) of PetalMD in 2015
- 100: number of hospitals in which PetalMD is used