By Mark Kawalya
ConnectMed is a digital medical consultation platform that matches junior healthcare workers who are more easily reached and greater in number with patients that are suffering from less serious medical issues that can be easily addressed. The system works to increase the reach of medical services in an industry that suffers from gaps left by experienced senior medical practitioners being too busy to cater to all medical cases, some of which are mild.
Patients can log onto ConnectMed’s website, and browse a doctor’s statistics along with their specialties and training background, and when satisfied, they can stop by a local pharmacy and schedule a virtual consultation using the computers available. Pharmacy locations where the services are offered, can be found using Google Maps or via the ConnectMeds website.
The South African start-up expanded into Kenya in 2017 and has health workers that are reachable from 8.00 am to 11.00 pm every day of the week. Through a digital interface on ConnectMed’s website, they can diagnose ailments, prescribe medicine and refer patients to see a specialist.
Patients can access the doctor’s notes when the consultation is finalized, along with their prescriptions, which they can fill out at their desired pharmacy. ConnectMed also trains lower-skilled medical personnel to handle more complex medical ailments, while cutting the cost of seeing a doctor drastically. The service costs Ksh500 (less than $5) and the website does not have a subscription fee, so patients pay when they need a doctor.
The subsidized cost is achieved through partnerships with local clinics and pharmacies, which work in unison to make the service possible. The startup also plans to go beyond treating just basic ailments and is working towards providing a wholesome healthcare provision system that will be all-inclusive.
The most frequently treated ailments that ConnectMed addresses are coughs, sinus infections, common colds, sore throats, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, back pain, headaches, insomnia, skin conditions, anxiety and depression. The startup helps control a wide variety of illnesses that could easily morph into preventable maladies before it is too late.
This translates to patients not having to pay out to pricey private insurance companies, which in turn makes insurance companies offer competitive healthcare rates. Although the service is currently only available in Nairobi, ConnectMed seeks to set up shop in other doctor-scarce areas of Kenya, making it easy for many who would be unable to see doctors for practical reasons like unreliable transportation preventing access to medical care.