DoctorOnCall Expands Services To Bring M’sian Public Healthcare Online
“Malaysia is 5-10 years behind in telemedicine compared to countries like the United States, India and China,” said Maran Virumandi, managing director and co-founder of DoctorOnCall (DOC) in an interview older.
DOC is one of Malaysia’s premier digital health platforms offering online appointment scheduling, medication deliveries, telehealth consultations, and more.
Maran added that in addition to lagging behind in telemedicine, Malaysia was lagging behind in other digital-based industries by regional players like Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, in the fintech fields. , e-commerce and electric vehicles, for example.
To help the growth of Malaysia’s telemedicine industry, DOC aims to increase the reach and accessibility of these services by offering public-private partnerships in digital health.
This is how we can catch up
On the one hand, the digital economy plan should recognize digital health as a key industry in Malaysia, Maran told Vulcan Post. He suggested that a national digital health sandbox could also be created to develop skilled telemedicine services by expanding regionally and globally.
In addition, partnerships between public and private investments in digital health could reduce the country’s health costs, which can represent up to 50% of the country’s budget.
“Thus, through public-private partnerships, Malaysia can leap ahead of its regional peers by adopting cutting-edge technologies in digital healthcare with AI, IoT, big data analytics. and blockchain, ”explained Maran.
To illustrate the possibility of such collaborations, the team developed DOCPod, a mobile clinic to reach rural and needy communities.
Bringing healthcare to patients
Piloted in Langkawi in 2019, the project was supported by the National Technology & Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) under the aegis of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).
Patients who visited DOCPod were connected via IoT health tests that could check their BMI, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, among other on-site diagnostics.
There, they could also talk to doctors at public health clinics through video or voice calls. If patients had more serious conditions, they would be referred for physical exams at Klinik Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM).
However, chronically ill patients typically require follow-up check-ups every few months, and many tend to get out on bail just by filling up their medications instead. This problem is further compounded when clinics are inaccessible, especially in rural areas.
So, DOC proposed that DOCPod could fill this gap by examining patients’ vital signs, paired with its virtual consultations. In addition, DOC can also deliver medication to patients’ homes if required.
This was the example Maran set to show the possibilities of what public-private partnerships might look like. In the first quarter of 2021, DOCPod received a RM500,000 grant from NTIS under MOSTI through the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC). Funding is provided to facilitate prototype design and construction, as well as to conduct marketing initiatives.
Roadblocks redirected traffic online
Due to the pandemic’s movement restrictions, many patients have been discouraged from showing up for physical exams. This change was also reflected in DOC’s growth trends, which saw approximately 15 million users visit its site in 2020. To date, the average number of monthly platform users (MAU) is increased from 600K in January 2020 to 2.5 million in January 2021.
And the team has also seen a change in customer demands. Prior to COVID-19, the platform primarily facilitated basic telehealth and drug deliveries. But when the pandemic struck, more patients began to seek everything from specialized telehealth and appointment scheduling to COVID-19 testing at home.
“The Malaysian audience adapted very quickly to the new normal and we were fortunate that DoctorOnCall’s platform was ready to accommodate growth spurts,” said Maran.
“Frankly, we were pleasantly surprised to see our popularity skyrocket and statistics show that approximately 76% of Malaysians have started their health journey through online and social media research.”
Among the most popular activities performed through the platform, patients are checking their symptoms and browsing the prices of drugs and treatments.
Their proudest achievement of the pandemic? Signature with the Ministry of Health to establish an online appointment system for the country’s KKM network. It was an initiative to reduce congestion in public clinics when social distancing was vital among patients.
In addition, DOC also helped the Department of Health create a virtual health advice portal to demystify any misinformation being spread about COVID-19. “This medium is the first of its kind launched by a government in the region,” said Hazwan Najib, DOC co-founder and chief marketing officer, proudly.
- You can read more about DoctorOnCall here.
- You can read more about our past coverage at DoctorOnCall here.
Featured Image Credit: Maran Virumandi and Hazwan Najib, Co-Founders of DoctorOnCall / Pexels
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