It might be hard to imagine, but despite the negative economic effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the pandemic has still presented positive opportunities, especially in the Egyptian market.
Two of the major winners from the pandemic have been healthcare services and technology, with Egypt upping the ante on digital transformation and providing more convenient solutions to the citizens.
Dr Mahmoud Abdel Hakim, CEO and Founder of Doctor-online platform, says that the pandemic has contributed to the accelerated spread of the platform’s services in Egypt.
Abdel Hakim sat down with Daily News Egypt to outline how the platform has worked to provide medical consultations online in various medical specialisations. He also talked about the platform’s future plans, when the pandemic come to an end.
Has COVID-19 prompted greater reliance on online services, especially healthcare services? How do you view the impact?
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the pace of users’ acceptance of services provided through the Internet. We started planning the idea for the application in 2019 before launching the Doctor-online services this year, to provide medical consultations via the video call feature.
However, a broad base of users had never used this kind of service before. As the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip, users began to search for ways and applications to obtain the services they needed as quickly as possible and with minimal effort, and this prompted users to search in particular for online medical services.
This is what the Doctor-online application provides, from the speed and ease of access to various consultants and doctors in all medical fields, to communicating with them via the Video Call feature. This helped us achieve a faster spread, and saved us a lot of time and effort that we would have spent in spreading the culture of getting medical consultations online.
What is your vision for the future of Doctor-online?
When we started the project, the goal was not to solve the coronavirus crisis but to provide this service in an innovative way via the Internet. It helps us fill a gap in moving between governorates, and sometimes countries, to obtain medical advice from a specific doctor, for example.
We aim to replace traditional medical consultations with online medical consultations that do not require the patient to visit the clinic, especially as the service we provide includes examination in the clinic. This means that if the doctor finds during the consultation on our platform that the patient needs an examination in the clinic, he is asked to go to the clinic without paying further fees.
In the coming period, we are looking to spread further across Egypt, as well as in various other Arab countries, especially since the Egyptian doctor is essential in many Gulf countries. So instead of the patient travelling from one country to another, he can obtain medical advice online through our platform.
We also plan to provide a rapid medical consultation service for patients who suffer from minor injuries, such as cuts or minor burns. We aim to reach more than 100,000 customers by the end of this year.
What service does Doctor-online provide?
Through the application, the user searches for the medical specialty he needs, and then searches for the doctor to communicate with them via video call. The client can view the doctor’s data, such as the qualifications he has gained as well as the address of his clinic and details of his appointments available on the app.
After that, the client books the appropriate appointment and feeds his request with details of the symptoms, pictures of analyses, and the like. On the day specified for the examination, the doctor calls the patient through the application, and directs the patient as required, giving the patient a code through which he can visit the clinic to sign the medical examination if the case needs that.
Do you rank doctors for clients?
No, we do not. We provide a base of doctors with their names, clinic addresses and further details about them, such as academic degrees, and other information, without arranging or giving preference to one doctor over another, as the choice is for the patient.
Have you received investment offers during the last period?
We have received many investment requests, but we have a vision to rely on ourselves during the current period, and to strive for investments at a later stage, at least by the end of this year.
Do you have partnerships with companies to provide your services to their employees?
We are already in negotiations with companies, schools and universities to provide them with our services.
What are the controls for selecting the doctors on the platform?
We choose doctors with higher degrees, such as consultants and professors, to provide the best customer service. The doctor must be approved by the Doctor-online team to have an account on the application.
Where does the platform’s income come from?
We obtain a share of the examination fees. We accept electronic payments via credit card and Fawry.