Who is David Meinertz?
David Meinertz is founder and CEO of ZAVA, an established pioneer in the field of online medicine. David originally trained as a lawyer and economist in Germany and France before moving into healthcare. In 2011, he and his business partner Amit Khutti created ZAVA, then under the name of DrEd. In the following years, he successfully expanded the company into one of the leading providers of online medicine in Europe, enabling a team of 260 employees to provide over 8 million consultations and treatments for patients across Germany, France, Ireland, and the UK.
Meet David Meinertz, CEO and founder of ZAVA.
Born: May 20, 1974, in Mainz, Germany
Education: Studied Law in Heidelberg, Montpellier, and Berlin. MBA from HEC University in Paris
Family: Lives with his wife and 3 sons in London and Hamburg
Biggest challenge: The kid's bath time…
Where did the idea for ZAVA come from?
David’s goal is to make accessing healthcare easier for people: "I am a patient myself, a rather impatient one. I used to have to go to the doctor's office regularly to get a follow-up prescription for my high blood pressure medication.” Sitting in a waiting room for hours in order to get his regular prescription just didn’t fit into his busy lifestyle and David saw an opportunity for change. “Today, I contact my doctor online and receive my medication at the local pharmacy on the same day or by mail the next day. The logistical effort for me is significantly lower."
His motivation to create more accessible healthcare was not just influenced by his own experiences but also his upbringing. His father is one of Germany’s leading cardiologists and headed up the cardiology department at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf. “He used to take me on patient rounds every other weekend, something that was tremendously inspiring and motivated me to make access to medical treatment easier,” David says.
From an initial idea to the future of telemedicine
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the coronavirus crisis has added momentum to the digital transformation of healthcare. “Online advice and remote treatments are not only more convenient and time-saving but in some cases also safer right now”, explains David.
The crisis has seen most people trying to stay home more, meaning that in March 2020, as the virus took hold in Europe, ZAVA provided 60% more online consultations and treatments to its patients than before. Despite these successes, David remains determined to do more: "We have already achieved a lot. I love solving problems and coming up with new ideas. And I have the feeling that we are still only at the beginning of what’s possible…”
David Meinertz in the press
An interview with David Meinertz
How did you come up with the idea for this business almost ten years ago?
Before I had access to online medical care, I used to find the combination of long waiting times at the doctor's, plus travelling to and from the practice really frustrating. Especially when you consider it’s all just to get a follow-up prescription for my high blood pressure medication. I personally felt that the existing health system was complex and time-consuming to navigate, so I wanted to find an easier, more convenient way for patients to access healthcare.
What can my doctor do for me without seeing me in person?
The field of online medicine is evolving very quickly right now. Whilst online doctors can't do everything local doctors can, they can provide a wide range of services for our patients. One example is that we're already sending test kits to our patients' homes, which they can then return with swabs or urine samples taken themselves under ZAVA’s clear and professional guidance. These are then analysed in our labs, meaning patients get their results quickly without even needing to visit a doctor. As well as this, patients can now take photos of skin conditions such as a rash, which they can upload for a doctor to have a look at and get a diagnosis.
What are the advantages of an online doctor?
The good thing about online medicine is that it can be accessed anywhere at any time, so your conversation with a specialist is only ever a few clicks away. One-third of patients contact us between 6pm and 6am, when most doctors cannot be reached by phone and GP practices are closed. That’s also why I find it much easier to manage my own high blood pressure with the help of an online doctor. I can just order a repeat prescription for my medication from home whenever I want to on my smartphone or tablet, and it will be delivered by post directly to my door.
Do you think online doctors will replace local GPs at some point in the future?
I think in 5 years time, about a third of all doctor consultations will be online. Having said that, I don’t think online medicine will ever replace in-person consultations. Instead, the two will continue to complement each other. Online medicine frees up local doctors to spend more time on consultations that require a physical examination of the patient. And it offers an additional layer of healthcare support especially in rural and remote areas where it’s difficult for people to visit a doctor in person.
Covid has brought rapid societal changes with it. Will video and online consultations soon be part of our everyday lives?
Absolutely. In March, we had 60% growth, corresponding to an extra several thousand consultations and treatments per day. The coronavirus crisis has shown how online doctors can help take the pressure off the NHS. Over the last few months, it has also been important to avoid crowded waiting rooms to reduce your own risk of getting infected. In exceptional circumstances, such as those we find ourselves in, it can be incredibly difficult to collect our thoughts and think clearly. Our individual and collective health now has an impact on the way we live our everyday lives, to an extent none of us have experienced before.
That’s why it’s more important than ever that patients can access accurate scientific and medical advice easily. And that’s something ZAVA offers. Our doctors answer patients’ questions about their health conditions and medication free of charge: It is part of the service we provide to our patients. Since March, our doctors have also been providing free coronavirus advice for our patients, and together with our two different testing services for COVID-19, this all part of our effort to support controlling of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends video consultations as an alternative to visiting the doctor: is this a part of the online medical care that ZAVA offers?
Without a doubt, for a wide range of different medical conditions, a video consultation is a great alternative to visiting your local GP. In Germany, ZAVA already offers video consultations as a convenient, accessible form of online medicine. In the UK, we provide diagnosis, advice and prescriptions through the medical questionnaires on our website and through a secure messaging function in patients accounts. Meaning, patients can ask any question they might have related to their care, free of charge.
Is the future of the waiting room, actually the living room?!
All of us are spending an increasing amount of time online organising our lives. From online banking to booking travel arrangements, there has been a trend towards going digital. A decade ago, planning a holiday would have involved a trip to a travel agent. Now, the vast majority of us no longer do that. We simply go online and choose the exact holiday we want. In the same way, we don’t always need to sit in a waiting room to speak to a doctor about our health. Nowadays, we can message, video call and use other means of communicating with a doctor digitally. At the end of the day, that’s what ZAVA is all about: Bringing healthcare into the 21st century, so that it fits more conveniently into patients’ lives.