Michel Wenger: One Click to Health — Quotes Magazine
Michel Wenger

One Click to Health

Illustration by Evgenia Nikolova

Michel Wenger is a physician who, by combining business and medical approach, has devoted his career to making patients feel comfortable and safe while searching for treatment and advice. Here he briefly and informatively explains what are the advantages of online health care.

Edit 24.05.2020:
For an update on health care in times of COVID, scroll down.

Tell us a little more about yourself.

I grew up in Switzerland and studied Medicine in Germany and Business in the UK. I worked in various medical institutions in different countries. I have also used my business qualification and worked in management consulting, concentrating on healthcare. I have recently taken on a new challenge where I can use all my expertise of dealing with patients, technology and business for the benefit of the patient.

Your professional background is both medical and business, but where does your “heart” lie?

My heart is in healthcare. My default position is still Physician and

I believe that business and technology should serve healthcare for the benefit of society and the patients.

How does your website — DrEd — work exactly?

It’s an online GP practice where patients can access our services via a platform, giving an easy, judgment free access to personal healthcare.

What are the advantages of the online doctor, apart from the obvious ones, such as time saving?

It’s an access to healthcare, which allows the patients to confront issues which they feel ashamed to discuss with their GP or are afraid of judgment traditionally associated with these diseases. The focus is on safety first, and then convenience, and we aim — and succeed — to provide high-standard services.

What are the ways to be sure no one is misusing your services?

We only treat specific conditions chosen for their safety profile and fit for remote consultation. On top of that, we have good screening and technical solutions, and together with strict adherence to laws and guidelines we are able to ensure patients’ safety and prevent risky behavior.

What kind of people use your DrEd, what is the target?

Everyone! The focus is mainly on services which patients are most likely to experience unease discussing face-to-face: such as sexual health topics and personal health matters.

Are people prejudiced about online medical services and what is your strategy to cope with that?

Usually prejudice prevails when people don’t fully understand what we offer and have never used this type of service. We are trying to change that by creating a safe and stable environment for our patients and making sure that we don’t give grounds for such doubts.

You were born in Switzerland, a country famous for being innovative in the medical field. Has that affected you in some way?

We are all citizens of the world. Growing up in a small country like Switzerland you understand that

innovation has to come from all the corners of the world to create truly great things.

It has certainly helped me understand we are all human beings and that innovation — backed by data — is destined to improve the quality of life significantly.

What do you like to do in your free time, how do you relax?

I cook! I like experimenting with different types of cuisine and my favorite book is “Gourmet cooking for dummies” (unfortunately out of print): it is invaluable for tips and tricks to build up a good foundation and repertoire in home cooking. To my wife’s disappointment, I even tried to enhance the Bulgarian version of moussaka with some new flavors.

What’s next for medicine?

Many more services, even in public health systems, are going to be digitalized in one way or another. The challenge will be to align these artificial intelligence improvements with keeping the services safe and personal. Also, primary disease prevention as well as personalized medicine will remain the focus for the coming years with ongoing innovation in treating serious diseases.

What do you like to do in your free time, how do you relax?

I cook! I like experimenting with different types of cuisine and my favorite book is “Gourmet cooking for dummies” (unfortunately out of print): it is invaluable for tips and tricks to build up a good foundation and repertoire in home cooking. To my wife’s disappointment, I even tried to enhance the Bulgarian version of moussaka with some new flavors.

What’s next for medicine?

Many more services, even in public health systems, are going to be digitalized in one way or another. The challenge will be to align these artificial intelligence improvements with keeping the services safe and personal. Also, primary disease prevention as well as personalized medicine will remain the focus for the coming years with ongoing innovation in treating serious diseases.

Published 01.06.2017

Edit 24.05.2020

In light of recent events, we go back to physician Michel Wenger and ask him to once again discuss the importance of online healthcare, now through the perspective of a pandemic-ridden world.

Do you think that now more than ever the world needs accessible online healthcare? Both GP and mental health assistance.

The need for an online GP that provides easy access for everyone is not based on such hard times as a pandemic. The advantages come to fruition also in less stressful or debilitating times. Of course, in such a pandemic when you should not leave your house unnecessarily, an online service for anything will help with your health and wellbeing. The advantages of ease of access and dependability create a safety net, which is important. It can be said that

no matter for what reason, the world needs accessible healthcare.

This means online GP as well as services for mental health, already now and in the near future.

Google is the ultimate healthcare assistance for many people. What is your opinion on that?

Google has the power and the data to provide a massive impact on one’s health. Their disease cards, which give you a short and easy overview when you Google search for a condition are top-notch and represent an attempt to take responsibility for accurate medical content and for the well-being of people in need of health information. If you are talking about the information generally available through the internet, that is a different story. It is though, amazing to see, that

the newer generations are extremely good at differentiating between good and bad information.

If you are not able to do that, that is where the misinformation starts, together with the targeting algorithms.

In our previous interview you said that “health systems are going to be digitalized in one way or another.” Do you think that after COVID-19 personalized online medicine will be the main focus for many countries? How do you see the future of the public health system?

Tracking for public health purposes seems to be paramount at the moment, but then that is something which could be seen as either bad or good. The verdict is still out on this, but I think that is one thing that might come now sooner than later.
Then also an early consolidation of platforms and software for digital health is another possible consequence of this, bringing to the forefront of everyone’s mind the pros and cons, as well as data safety. I am talking about video conferencing, electronic patient records and other telemedical tools.

The future really depends on society’s appetite for convenience at the cost of data privacy.

A contentious topic, as people dish out readily their data for much more mundane things than their health. On a more individual level, I expect that everyone will profit with better awareness and outcomes for their diseases (as well as more treatments available) through various channels, leading to a more equalitarian world in terms of everyone’s health.

How do you see the world and humanity changing after the pandemic?

Well, the world will go on. It will be interesting to see whether all these amazing stories of support and people caring for one another will continue. It could even contribute to world peace! I don’t think that political systems that are sound and based on democratic principles are at risk of default, even the European Union’ downfall would be really a surprise, and the predictions are probably most likely fantasies of eurosceptics, populists, and autocrats.

I don’t think events like that will change humanity, but certainly will bring hidden traits to surface, good or bad. The amazing thing is at the moment it seems to be predominantly good traits.

Another effect could be that people start to refocus on the local society, economy, etc. – a trend amongst some young people that started before the pandemic. It will be interesting to see how this will play out on the ecological side. Short-term relief in terms of pollution will probably be reverted quite quickly to the old bad state, but maybe the movement will see a surge in actions and facts.

What would change on a personal level – would the average person become more empathetic or more of a “lone wolf”?

Whoever is empathetic now will be empathetic later, whoever is a lone wolf now will be a loner later. I don’t think you can explain a person’s behavior entirely on your surroundings or circumstances, you have a base setting. Maybe someone has forgotten to be empathetic or remembers that he actually would prefer to stay at home, who knows. But humans throughout our history have shown a remarkable consistency and resilience for their behavior, no matter which way they are leaning. In the end, you only have a finite number of possibilities how to be human. I know it is boring, but that is how it is.