MyDoctor provides equitable healthcare to underserved communities
- Written by OUR REPORTER
Antenatal care is one service pregnant women struggle to seek.
Many expectant mothers actually wait to first get a pregnancy complication to go for antenatal monitoring. They just hate the inconvenience of visiting the hospital every now and then.
But what if this service was digitized?
When Divinah Twinomujuni was pregnant last year, she went to MyDoctor in Nansana, Wakiso district, Uganda where she was introduced to digital healthcare services.
“They told me I didn’t have to come to the hospital all the time. I would just talk to the doctor through the phone and he directs me on what to do,” she recalls.
In traditional medicine, a mother is supposed to have around six visits but at MyDoctor, Twinomujuni was told that she could have a maximum of three physical visits and the rest would be conducted via the phone.
“I just had to make regular video calls with the doctor. When my time for delivery came, I called the doctor and he immediately sent a car that picked me from home to the hospital. I delivered my baby girl,” she says.
Twinomujuni has since been receiving digital post-natal care and she has no complaints.
“The baby is healthy and fine. After delivery, the doctors would call me on a daily for supervision and check on the baby,” she says.
MyDoctor is a digital healthcare services platform that is transforming the traditional healthcare system like never before. Attached to a physical health centre, MyDoctor is providing equitable healthcare services through ensuring that people, especially those with emergencies easily reach out to professional medical services providers either through a phone call or social media text, audio and video.
According to Dr David Mwesigwa, the in-charge of MyDoctor digital healthcare services, healthcare should be the most accessible service because it touches people’s lives.
“Every second of the day, a person should be able to access medical care. So, we introduced this digital platform, call it tele-medicine/consultation, where patients can call in and consult a doctor from wherever they are,” he says.
How does it work?
When a client calls in, they are received by someone in the call centre who connects them to a doctor. The doctor then investigates the condition of the patient and if they have any medical records such as laboratory test, they are required to share them with via WhatsApp for review. Payments can be made using mobile money.
“For those who require lab checkups, we reach out to them and collect the sample and run the test from our facility in Nansana. We later deliver the results via a phone call,” Mwesigwa says.
He adds that when they give a prescription, the patient has various options. Those that require injections can either come to the facility or a mobile medical team is dispatched to the patient’s residence. For those that don’t need injections, there is delivery team that takes the medication to the patient.
According to Sharon Nambozo, business development officer at MyDoctor, there is still a challenge to convince an ordinary Ugandan that they can get medical services through the phone or via the internet. This challenge is acerbated by the high costs of internet/data and the limited penetration of smartphones among Ugandans at the bottom of the pyramid – who are their main target.
“It is these challenges that are driving us to ensure that we create an online one-stop-centre for medical services,” she says.
“Every Uganda should be able to digitally access a doctor, a midwife, nurses, and all the personnel that are available in a traditional healthcare facility. This should become the new normal.”
Nambooze says that in the two years of MyDoctor’s existence, they have assembled a team of professionals in various disciplines to handle all patient queries.
“We've been able to handle more than 1,000 patients through our digital platform, which is a good sign,” she says.
40 Days 40 FinTechs
MyDoctor is the 15th participant in season four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative by HiPipo to shine a light on emerging financial technology companies.
“In addition to the visibility provided by the 40 Days 40 FinTechs platform, it is also providing MyDoctor with connections with players in the financial and digital space like banks, telecom companies, and other FinTechs that we can work with in providing a comprehensive one-stop centre for digital health care,” Nambooze says.
HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya says the service being offered by MyDoctor is very critical when it comes to the principle of including everyone.
“MyDoctor offers hope for people in a country like Uganda where healthcare is way below the required standards. They have come up with a unique product that makes it convenient and cheap to seek medical advice,” he says.
The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is organised in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, and Crosslake Technologies with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.