Dubai-based healthcare start-up Okadoc said telemedicine is here to stay even after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was gaining ground even before the pandemic, but because of Covid-19, adoption has accelerated for instant meetings as we live in an unprecedented time and there is a greater sense of urgency for patients and doctors to connect, “Fodhil Benturquia, founder and CEO of Okadoc, said VPNOnlineFree Pro Middle East.
At a time when most providers are experiencing a huge deficit in patient visits, he said that Okadoc uses technology to quickly connect patients to doctors 24/7, helping to transform the model of existing healthcare in the region by seamlessly connecting patients, doctors and healthcare providers, removing all barriers
In addition, he said the platform has allowed providers to continue the spectrum of care and keep businesses running and reduce wait times.
With distance working and distance learning, he said that people have gotten used to videoconferencing, so telemedicine will be there for immediate needs and rather than going in an emergency, the patient can now speak to a doctor instantly.
“When you're sick, driving can be a risk outside of traffic and hassle of finding parking and wasting time. When you are diabetic, you may need to see a doctor once or twice a week and that is a burden.
“Because of Covid-19, most clinics and hospitals were not ready for telemedicine service and were trying to use other video communication tools to solve the problem. In the future, I think the government could ask each provider to have telehealth service as a regulatory need and as a safeguard if a new pandemic occurs in the future, “he said.
Telemedicine is a complementary product and he said that about 80% of consultations with the same doctor can be replaced by the app.
TRA Approved Applications
Okadoc is one of the providers and facilitators of telehealth in addition to NextGen Healthcare, VSee, Doxy.me, GetBee and Mind Mina Telemedicine to be approved by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) for use in the United Arab Emirates.
Claiming to be the largest provider of telehealth in the United Arab Emirates, Benturquia said it had accelerated the launch of the virtual video meeting with the doctor because of growing demand.
The start-up, which started as a doctor reservation center at Dubai Healthcare City, was slated to launch the service in the third quarter of this year.
Benturquia said they had 204 doctors in 43 specialties from 38 live health care providers and more than 200 doctors are expected to join soon. They have already done more than hundreds of consultations.
“Patients can make an appointment with their own doctor or a doctor of their choice in a matter of minutes. Users can have a video consultation and chat electronically, transfer and receive documents such as prescriptions or medical records, and pay for consultations according to their insurance coverage, ”he said.
Humeira Badsha, rheumatology consultant at Dr. Humeira Badsha Medical Center, said that last month had been a stressful time for our patients, especially for chronic conditions, but Okadoc intervened fairly quickly to provide the platform.
“We wanted an encrypted platform to maintain the confidentiality of our patients. We managed to see more than 50 telehealth patients in the last month and we are really surprised to see how satisfied the patients are.
“I see patients from their homes with their families and in different contexts in a relaxed mode. Dubai is a medical tourism hub and we see a lot of patients, who cannot see us now because of the foreclosure, Baku and the GCC region, “she said.
Big focus on security and privacy
Using end-to-end encryption with cloud data hosted on Alibaba Cloud and Microsoft Azure in the UAE, Benturquia said that in terms of scalability, encryption and security, the platform is compliant in the United Arab Emirates and international regulations, which means that doctors working from home can have instant and secure access to the platform at a time when they cannot be present in hospitals or clinics.
Okadoc is the only regional solution directly integrated into a provider's hospital information system; he said and added that the platform is encrypted from start to finish.
Even if the data is hacked, he said that it could not be decrypted and that the audio and video were not recorded.
Benturquia said they are planning to add prescription reminders to the app for patients and are looking to launch a telemedicine app for doctors this year.
Currently, the mobile app is for patients only, and office websites for doctors and hospitals.