Medihub: creating freedom of choice for Nordic patients

Medihub is the biggest international medical services information portal in the Nordic countries, allowing people to find a suitable clinic, compare prices of services of different clinics and make appointments. The objective of Medihub is to make the medical market transparent for patients. They have greater freedom of choice between different clinics and can get an appointment faster for health concerns by making an online booking.

People can use the information from Medihub to find what they are looking for much more easily. That means faster results for users looking for clinics, medical services and price information compared to a general Internet search. They have greater freedom of choice between different clinics and can get an appointment faster for health concerns by making an online booking.

“If you’re looking for a dentist in Tal-linn, the first page of Google results lists ten clinics. They’re usually the bigger clinics which have become prominent due to strong internet marketing,” says Medihub CEO Helary Lainjärv. He says that web searches don’t provide a proper overview of the clinics or their prices. “The main problems with Google are the limited selection of clinics and the difficulty in obtaining information and interpreting the search results,” Lainjärv continues and says Medihub helps to save time and money for people looking for medical ser-vices or clinics. “When comparing prices, hundreds or thousands of euros can be saved in Estonia, to say nothing of Finnish and Estonian prices where the difference could be tenfold,“ he says.

Lainjärv says Medihub helps to increase people’s freedom of choice and options in medicine. “It’s still the norm for people to choose a suitable clinic from the top 10 Google results and based on friends’ recommendations. Prices and quality are rated on the basis of someone’s personal experiences and preferences. There is no modern option of making a choice like in other sectors – for hotels, aviation or retail shopping, you find the right one out of many service providers,” says Lainjärv and adds that develop-ments that are logical in other branches of the economy should also be applied to medicine.

Lainjärv says he is astonished that even as many consumer services have long since moved online, availability of online medical services is still in a “pre-booking.com, pre-Skyscanner age”. “The reason is the more conservative development in the medical field, as a result of which online booking and publication of price lists has only started to spread in recent years,” says Lainjärv, adding that without technological readiness on the part of companies, an online marketplace for clinics will be impeded.

The only international portal in the Nordics and Baltics

Lainjärv, who works in Finland as an occupational health physician, says that the idea for Medihub, launched in 2015, occur-red based on Finnish patients’ interest in seeing the prices of Estonian medical services. “It is difficult to find prices for Estonian services, and there was no price comparison between clinics. I found the Finnish price comparison in a very elementary form. So that is how the idea came that we could develop something better and simpler,” he said.

The Medihub portal has around 730 clinics – about 80% of the biggest Estonian and Finnish clinics are covered. Lain-järv says that the Nordics and Baltics – Medihub’s two areas of operation – have a few competing portals, but Medihub is the only one that operates internationally.

Step by step, Medihub is moving toward expanding the site to other markets. The company has tested its system in a number of countries – Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, Russia and England – and has received confirmation that it works. But it has opted for a calmer pace of development because it is an easier and better way to administer and develop the entire system. Yet now the company is at the point of opening access to Latvian customers as well.

Customers praise ease of use

“If we look at Medihub’s results in the last couple of years, one characteristic is that a critical mass of visitors was achieved early this year,” says Lainjärv and adds that, in fact, visitor numbers began to double every month in August 2017 and the same trend continues now. The number of bookings is also increasing at the same rate in both Estonia and Finland.

Lainjärv says websites can be kept running with heavy advertising and lure users, but this isn’t an engine that will act as a self-starter and lead to more. Lainjärv says it was the right decision to start advertising only in early 2018, as users have been directed to Medihub not thanks to good marketing but because of the product that has been developed.

Lainjärv says work continues constantly to make the product better and more convenient for the user. One early concern was that users had problems with medical terms that proved too complicated for the layman. First, a more stripped-down version of the service catalogue was added for testing. Customers responded favourably but in 2017 a completely new version of Medihub was launched – one that was even quicker and more user friendly. “We took down the user instructions recently because they simply weren’t needed. Now that’s a sign of quality in itself,” says Lainjärv.

In talking about customer feedback, Lainjärv says that users are satisfied and have high praise for ease of use. He says it has been downright moving to hear the feedback from Estonian clients. “It bolsters the spirit to hear that we are helping people to find the right and most affordable clinic for them and that people are getting medical care faster because of that,” says Lainjärv.

Lainjärv says that though the Medihub environment seems very simple at first glance – and that it should be simple and understandable for users – under the hood it has quite sophisticated healthcare technology that is at the global vanguard in terms of competitiveness.

He emphasizes that the team gives its maximum effort on everything that it does: For example we took the website speed to the point where we are the fastest among medical services information gateways.“ Lainjärv says that though the Medihub environment seems very simple at first glance – and that it should be simple and understandable for users – under the hood it has quite sophisticated healthcare technology that is at the global vanguard in terms of competitiveness.

Artificial intelligence will assist patients in future

Lainjärv says the dynamic team has found solutions to many problem areas. Medihub has repeatedly changed the company’s internal structure based on the goals and needs. This kind of team dynamic is the cornerstone of successful development, says Lainjärv, and he takes pleasure in the fact that the portal has drawn talented people who want to work for them.

In the near future, Medihub plans to start offering users AI-powered services. “If a person’s wrist hurts, the Medihub portal will tell them which doctor to see for the complaint,” says Lainjärv. Development of AI is already taking place and steps are being taken to make it available to users soon.