AfriDOKTA is a new telemedicine and mHealth platform that aims to help East African countries attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.
The healthcare consumer facing platform was launched in Kenya in 2016 by E Health Solutions LLC, a US company that has a special interest in developing health IT solutions for Africa, to provide affordable telehealth care that is easily accessible for individuals and organisations.
“After having consulted on eHealth projects first in the US and then in several countries like Rwanda, Kenya and Ghana we realised that there was a common healthcare gap that could not be fixed by simply trying to produce more doctors – at least properly qualified ones. We realised the key was to leverage technology to deliver primary care in a manner that was convenient and affordable without sacrificing quality,” CEO of AfriDOKTA, Dr John Gachago, told eHealthNews.
“Hence we built AfriDOKTA as a hybrid telemedicine/mHealth platform on the foundation of safety, efficiency, patient-centricity, effectiveness and equitable care. Our vision as a team is to transform the delivery of healthcare in Africa one country or region at a time,” continued Dr Gachago.
The founding AfriDOKTA team includes mobile telephony expert, Kigen Kandie; retired former US Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger; Cloud Technology Evangelist, Ken Saul; Medical Doctor, Lawrence Adu; Director of Operations and Finance, Margaret Bekker; and Dr Gachago.
Through the AfriDOKTA platform, which is accessible via their website or Android app, consumers can create a patient profile by completing their personal health record and then request an online video consultation with a certified AfriDOKTA doctor for a non-emergency medical issue, 24/7. According to AfriDOKTA, patients are connected with a doctor in under three minutes. Once the patient is accepted by the doctor, they talk about the patient’s medical issue and with the support of the electronic health record (EHR) a diagnosis is made and treatment provided, including a prescription, when necessary.
If a prescription is necessary, it’s sent to AfriDOKTA’s certified pharmacy network and the patient will have the option of choosing whether to have it delivered or if they will pick it up in person from the pharmacy.
Following the virtual doctor’s consultation, the patient is prompted to rate their experience and if all their medical queries were answered.
When signing up consumers can choose from a one time, six month or 12 month subscription, and payments can be charged to their credit card, health insurer or employer.
“Initially people are a bit sceptical about consulting a doctor on a mobile phone but we have been pleasantly surprised at the positive reception with AfriDOKTA so far because people see that the platform does exactly what we say it does,” said Dr Gachago.
AfriDOKTA recently partnered with Smart Applications International, the largest East African biometric health insurance administration automation company, to integrate their platform with Smart’s biometric automated medical scheme management solution. The partnership has put Smart’s 104 employees on AfriDOKTA’s telehealth services platform to complete a 30-day Proof of Concept (PoC) study. Based on the success of the PoC, Smart will partner with AfriDOKTA for all East Africa health insurers.
“This partnership serves to provide ease of access to healthcare services through telemedicine while still incorporating biometric authentication. It improves members’ experience, ultimately reduces the cost of quality care, and fosters better medical insurance penetration,” said Group Managing Director at Smart, Harrison Muiru.
According to Dr Gachago, Minet, a major health benefits administrator, has committed to put its employees on AfriDOKTA effective 1st September and then have the platform white labelled with their own logo for their clients to use. “We are also in the process of negotiating an agreement with Safaricom to commercialise it and launch it to their 28 million subscribers,” said Dr Gachago.
Dr Gachago added that they are also working with the National Health Insurance Fund in Kenya to facilitate their mandate to drive Universal Healthcare. “Essentially the AfriDOKTA platform facilitates Universal Healthcare for any country or organisation in Africa from an outpatient care perspective,” said Dr Gachago.
While AfriDOKTA’s primary market at the moment is Kenya because of the wide acceptance of Mpesa (mobile money), through their Smart partnership they are essentially in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.
“Our plan is to launch in Nigeria in the next 1-2 years and then hopefully South Africa. Any country in Africa can adopt the platform as their own as long as they provide us with their doctors, labs and pharmacies. AfriDOKTA is designed to be the ‘Uber of healthcare’ for Africa,” concluded Dr Gachago.