Digital health providers all across Europe are creating a lot of buzz, but they have one problem — they are not making money.

That is why some are stepping into what they hope is the more lucrative world of pets.

Last week the Swedish digital healthcare provider Doktor.se struck a deal with the animal hospital company Anicura, to develop a new healthcare app for pets in Europe.

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“Our core business at Doktor.se is doing well but when Anicura contacted us for licensing our platform for digital veterinary visits, then one has to get along for the ride,” the founder Martin Lindman says. “But, we are never going to do animal care.”

Martin Lindman is chief executive and founder of Doktor.se.

While Doktor.se itself will never hire vets — that will be left to Anicura — with the diversification to cats and dogs, all of a sudden Doktor.se is much closer than ever before, in its three years of operations, to becoming profitable.

“This is very exciting and kind of everyone’s dream. We have a core business that we will continue to scale but now we also have additional licensing revenue,” Lindman says.

Similar to digital health competitors such as Kry (Livi) and Min Doktor, Doktor.se has raised more than €10m in external capital.

“We have a core business that we will continue to scale but now we also have additional licensing revenue.”

The company was founded a couple of years after the other leading digital health providers, but it has managed to become one of the fastest growing digital health providers in Sweden, much to do with a loophole in the Swedish healthcare system.

This loophole meant that Doktor.se could offer patients completely free digital healthcare, which is not normal practice in Sweden, and so the company has attracted a lot of users.

But despite this success, similarly to the other digital health care providers trying to disrupt the national health care system, profits have been hard to come by.

Furry friends

A still from a FirstVet TV ad.

While digital health providers for humans are battling to monetise, the care providers that are focussing on our furry animal friends have no such problems. Instead of disrupting a public sector, the digital vet companies only have to deal with insurance companies and pet owners.

Firstvet, one of the Swedish digital veterinary services, tripled its revenue from 2017 to 2018, and is growing by 25% month on month according to an interview with the chief executive David Prien in the local tech site Breakit.

Firstvet is not the only one in this fairly untapped market and the competition is slowly growing.

Big opportunity

With Anicura’s 250 animal hospitals across Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Germany the opportunity for Doktor.se’s platform is potentially huge. In Europe alone there are 102m cats, 84m dogs and 49m birds held as pets, according to Statista.

“We have a steady licensing fee with Anicura for our platform and the big upside is that we are also compensated for each consultation,” says Lindman.

“We are already in discussions with other players which could lead to similar solutions.”

Being asked if this can be realised into a positive last line in the annual report, Lindman is positive but adds that there will be more to it.

“I think it can be part of it, but this is not the only opportunity we have when it comes to this kind of structural relationships. We are already in discussions with other players which could lead to similar solutions,” Lindman says.

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