KAMPALA, UGANDA – 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 My Doctor 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 face-to-face antennal visits but at My Doctor, Twinomujuni was told that she could have a maximum of three face-to-face 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 up from home to the hospital. I delivered my baby girl,” she says.
Twinomujuni has since been receiving digital postpartum 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.
My Doctor is a digital healthcare services platform that is transforming the traditional healthcare system like never before. Attached to a physical health centre, My Doctor is providing equitable healthcare services by 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 Medical in-charge of My Doctor Digital Health Care 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 tests, they are required to share them via WhatsApp for review. Payments are 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. We later deliver the results via a phone call and share reports for those with smartphones,” Dr. 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 a delivery team that takes the medication to the patient.
According to Sharon Namboozo, the Business Development Officer at My Doctor, 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-center for medical services,” she says.
“Every Ugandan 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.”
Namboozo says that My Doctor has assembled a team of professionals in various disciplines to handle all patient queries.
“We have been able to handle more than 1,000 patients through our digital platform, which is a good sign,” she says.
40 Days 40 FinTechs
My Doctor 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 My Doctor 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 center for digital health care,” Namboozo says.
HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya says the service being offered by My Doctor is very critical when it comes to the principle of including everyone.
“My Doctor offers hope for people in a country like Uganda where healthcare is way below the required standards. This is a unique product that makes it convenient and affordable 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 generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.