Easy access to health care is a significant problem in Uganda. According to the International Society for Quality in Health Care, the country has an estimated doctor-to-patient ratio of 1:25,725.
Many people cannot afford to book a doctor’s appointment and opt for more convenient methods of accessing healthcare. Many Ugandans self-medicate with over-the-counter medicines while others use herbal remedies.
“Whenever my children fall sick, I go the pharmacy and buy medicine,” Joyce Nalubwama a single mother of three says while straightening her face mask. “I don’t make enough money to take them to see a doctor each time they fall sick,” she says.
Rocket Health a telemedicine service provider has been offering remote doctor consultations, carrying out home-based laboratory tests and delivering prescription medicines to patients.
Using digital channels like social media and over-the-phone calls, clients can reach out for healthcare services whenever the need arises. With annual health packages that cost as little as shs100,000 ($27), the company is reaching people that would otherwise not be able to afford to get the right diagnoses for their ailments.
“We introduced telemedicine in Uganda to transform how healthcare is delivered; we saw the need for accessible, quality and affordable healthcare everywhere around us and across all socio-economic classes.” Dr David Musinguzi the managing director and founder of The Medical Concierge Group (TMGG)/Rocket Health says.
The Rocket Health call center is also open 24 hours through a toll-free line and consultation can be done in English and local languages to widen the reach of the service to more Ugandans.
After the doctor has given a diagnosis and written a prescription, medicines are delivered to the client within Kampala, Wakiso and parts of Mukono. If the doctor recommends laboratory tests, a technician comes to your home and collects the lab sample. The samples are analyzed in a laboratory and a doctor makes a follow-up call with the results.
He adds that the idea for Rocket Health originated after he realized that the country’s low patient to doctor ratio was locking many Ugandans out of access to reasonable health care.
David adds that in the eight years they have been operating, telemedicine has prevented unnecessary hospital visits, length of hospital queues, and the number of laboratory tests.
“Our main objective was to improve healthcare in Africa and ensure that the ever-increasing population receives and enjoys quality healthcare at their convenience. Telemedicine holds a great promise for improving global access to healthcare and informatics, particularly in the developing world,” he said.