In the past two months Faith Nassiwa, a resident of Bugolobi in Kampala has received medical services from a place of her convenience. She is one of the people who have enrolled for Rocket Health's new telemedicine programme.
According to Nassiwa, when she needed a blood checkup, a laboratory technician was dispatched to her office to pick the samples. She later that evening received her results via email.
The next time Nassiwa needed drugs, they were delivered to her home in Bugolobi after a chat with a doctor on phone. Nassiwa paid an annual enrollment fee of Shs 270, 000 to Rocket Health to get these services from the comfort of her environ.
Nassiwa said she had to choose between enrolling for insurance cover or receiving health services at her door. With a full-time office job, Nassiwa says Rocket Health proved the most convenient option since everything from lab tests to meetups with doctors can be done at her place of choice.
The services are a new phenomenon in Uganda whereby patients can consult doctors via phone call or email, call in doctors to their houses, get medical refills for those on chronic care in addition to doing routine laboratory assessments without necessarily visiting the clinic.
Stephen Musoke, a software developer says increasingly, people need options that offer convenience, quality, and reliability. He says he subscribed onto Rocket Health even when he already has a health insurance plan to be able to benefit from pecks that his plan doesn’t offer.
Sandra Arinaitwe from Medical Concierge Group, the company that offers these telemedicine services dubbed Rocket Health, said they embarked on door to door services after realizing the loopholes in the healthcare system where patients spend long hours at facilities yet some are encounter challenges while in transit to hospitals partly because of the poor ambulance system.
With health packages going for between Shs 100, 000 and Shs 2 million per year, services offered depends on the health plan that one enrolls on. She said they started off by giving only medical consultation but soon people started demanding for laboratory services and medicines.
She says just a few months after Rocket Health was started, a lot of people are issuing in subscription requests especially for the chronic care plan since many private health insurance policies don’t cover chronic illness.
However, even as the likes of Arinaitwe, say that telemedicine is the new way to go and is improving patient care, in Uganda the system is not yet legally recognized.
While they have approvals from the National Drug Authority to operate, the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council has warned that it’s being used in absence of a supporting policy.