Stephanie Eltz is a former NHS surgeon turned entrepreneur who co-founded Doctify – a leading healthcare review platform – in 2015 with her friend and fellow surgeon, Suman Saha. Stephanie is passionate about using technology to ensure that no patient is left unheard. Her dedication to building trust and transparency between patients and doctors resulted in the Inspiring Fifty Awards 2021 recognising her as one of the fifty most inspirational women in technology in the UK.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I graduated from university with a degree in Medicine and subsequently trained as a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon. In 2011, I moved from Vienna to Oxford to join the NHS. During this time, I became passionate about solving critical problems in healthcare through the digital transformation of the industry. Suman and I were working together in Orthopaedics at a London hospital when we made the decision to found Doctify.
Doctify is a review platform and software built specifically for health and social care, designed to deliver trust and transparency across the sector. We are on a mission to ensure that no patient is left unheard and that their voices are the driving force of change within the healthcare industry. Our first of its kind healthcare intelligence technology makes it easy for doctors, dentists, clinics, and hospitals to collect and analyse patient feedback so that they are able to better understand and share their patients’ experiences.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
One day, I discovered a mole that I thought was cancerous and I wanted to speak to a specialist in that area. Despite being well connected in the medical world, I found it difficult to get the right information online, leaving me feeling lost. At the same time, Suman, my co-founder, was supporting an ill relative and struggling to find the right clinician for them.
We both recognised that with our expertise and passion for technology and healthcare, we could prevent other patients from feeling this way when making important healthcare decisions. Reviews were fast becoming the norm in other sectors. However, when accessing healthcare – which can be one of the most anxious experiences – there was little meaningful feedback accessible to patients.
I’m proud of our success so far, and I’m glad I chose to embrace this challenge. I always knew I wanted to help people – it’s why I became a surgeon. Launching Doctify has allowed me to help even more patients, empowering them to make the right healthcare decisions and also use their voices to build greater transparency in healthcare.
How did you achieve awareness?
When we launched Doctify in 2015, I started pitching to angel investors, securing the funding that we needed to kickstart the platform’s development. I participated in various networking events and conferences to spread awareness of Doctify and the importance of achieving greater trust and transparency in healthcare. The healthcare professionals I spoke to recognised the need for a platform like Doctify and were glad to see that it was being developed. Also, people who had needed to access healthcare at some point in their lives – for either themselves or a loved one – could identify with the struggle to find “experts” and were pleased to see the issue being addressed.
In 2016, Suman and I won Pitch@Palace, which helped us to boost our awareness even further. The Queen tweeting about Doctify was the highlight of the event and something I will never forget!
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I have initially raised funds from angel investors and most recently, venture capital funds. We are grateful to be supported by investors who believe in Doctify and our mission. It’s important for us to collaborate with investors who share our ethos like Amadeus Capital, Keen Ventures and Guinness Asset Management, who have significant experience and resources in the healthtech sector in the UK and beyond.
What are the key successes?
At Doctify, we celebrate every milestone, no matter how big or small. Every success we achieve contributes to our ultimate goal of ensuring that no patient is left unheard.
So far, our digital technology has supported 50 million patients in making informed decisions about their health. We now have a network of over 25,000 professionals, hospitals, clinics, and practices that have signed up to our ethos of trust and transparency. What’s more, the Doctify team has doubled in the last year, as we continue to grow and expand across five healthcare markets in the UK, UAE, Austria, Germany and Australia.
What were/are the challenges, and how have you overcome these?
We encountered our biggest challenges during the pandemic when face-to-face consultations became strictly limited. We knew that patients still needed health and social care, and we noticed more and more people coming to Doctify to read reviews and find specialists they could access online.
We decided to act fast and build a solution that enabled patients to access healthcare virtually. We launched a remote consultation tool in a matter of weeks. Then, we approached our network of doctors and overnight, added “video flags” to their Doctify profiles. Quickly, we created the largest network of video-enabled consultants in the UK, making it easy for patients to find healthcare providers they could speak to during the pandemic. This enabled thousands of patients to find and access the care they needed without leaving the house.
We also placed a big focus on our team’s wellbeing to ensure they didn’t feel isolated or disconnected. We introduced wellness and self-development sessions to bring the team together virtually. We had meditation sessions, online cook-alongs, and team members led each other in online exercise classes from yoga to boxercise. Our team is incredibly important to us, so having a workplace culture that people want to be a part of helps us thrive.
What are your plans now/for the future?
At Doctify, we are on a mission to become a global healthcare review platform, ensuring that no patient goes unheard. By 2025, we want Doctify to have helped 100 million patients.
We are continuing to expand across all our markets. We are actively growing our team and are building partnerships with individual specialists, clinics, hospitals and insurance networks to become a leading platform trusted by patients and providers everywhere.
In the future, we will be providing more avenues for patients to leave feedback. We are also set to launch a global benchmarking tool soon, which will see providers measured against one another based on their patient feedback. These additions will enable us to give providers more structured insights to make the right improvements to their care.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
You only live once, and why not dare to reach for the stars? Learn to celebrate the small victories, prepare yourself to face challenges and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s an exciting journey with lots of ups and downs, but it’s also rewarding to see your mission and vision come to life. Turn your dreams and PowerPoint presentations into reality, and use your creativity and innovation to change the world for a better place.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
1. Surround yourself with people you can trust and compensate for your weaknesses
2. Celebrate the small successes
3. Learn from mistakes and move on
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
My late grandmother is my biggest inspiration. She was a refugee from Latvia and built a successful dental practice in Vienna. I have always admired her kindness, energy and positivity. I aspire to hold these characteristics in my life but have a long way to go to become like her.
My two kids are another source of inspiration. Every day, they remind me that what we build at Doctify will make a difference for their generation. Our health is the most precious thing we have, and I want to make it easier for patients to find the best care they deserve. It’s incredible how much power my kids give me to lead Doctify in ensuring that no patient is left unheard. They are the future voices that will continue to drive health and social care improvements, and I am proud to be building the platform that will enable them to achieve that.
Famous people that inspire me include:
- Alexei Navalny for sacrificing his freedom for what he believes in
- Many artists who pushed boundaries and questioned status quo
- Arnold Schwarzenegger for following his passion and being successful in three unrelated careers (body builder, actor and governor)
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
Don’t worry about the small defeats. The big victories will follow no matter what.