With the expansion of broadband services in Pakistan after the introduction of 3G/4G services, online business are booming at the moment. Companies like Uber and Careem have made full use of this ubiquity of internet access to digitize services that were previously done manually in a tedious form. A big area which was in a painful and dire need for digitization was medical care.
Consider a scenario where you have a serious tooth pain and need a good dentist to go to. What do you do? How do you find out where to go and whom to trust? Past experiences? Family connections? Word of mouth? That’s how the discovery of doctors has been done for a long, long time. But with the recent advancements in internet access and broadband technology, the whole process of booking a medical-consultation can now be done online; which saves you time, money and gives you the experience you deserve.
This guide will help you go through the steps you need to take to book a medical consultation with a doctor using just your laptop or phone browser.
1. Choosing a platform
There are many different online platforms which are currently offering online booking services for medical consultation. For the purpose of this guide, we are taking a look at Pliro’s online platform. Pliro is a healthcare platform which makes appointment booking and management hassle-free for patients and doctors. It has services in a vast number of different cities and provides these services through both an online website portal and mobile applications for iOS and Android devices.
2. Registering for a free patient account
If you are only looking around to gather information about doctors and don’t plan on using the booking management system of Pliro, you don’t have to register and signup to use the portal. You can easily select a doctor, book an appointment, provide the name and number of patient and then confirm the appointment. All of this can be done without creating an account on Pliro’s website.
But if you plan on keep using the platform for future appointments too, it is wise to register for an account to keep track of your medical history. I will highly recommend this because once you have an account you can maintain your health record and share it with doctors in a single click.
The registration process is pretty simple. You can sign up manually by entering all your details or click on continue with Facebook, The latter option will fetch your data from your online Facebook profile and greatly simplify the sign up process.
There are three main profile options while signing up; you can sign up as a patient, as a doctor, or even a hospital. For the purpose of this demonstration, we are signing up as a patient.
The next screen will ask for your details including a full name and a suitable password. Be sure to enter a proper email and phone number here as it will be required to verify your account later on.
3. Searching for a doctor and booking an appointment
Pliro’s homepage provides an easy to access search bar which allows users to search for nearby doctors based on their specialty, their clinics, their diagnostic tests and the conditions they tend to. The results are also sorted by rating of the doctor to help find you the best possible medical consultation. Continuing the initial prognosis, let’s suppose we want to search for a dentist in Islamabad. Pliro will return a number of different search results for Dentist and we can choose the one we prefer and proceed to make an appointment.
Clicking on a doctor’s name will open a new page with complete information about the doctor. From here you can select the day and time on which you want to visit the doctor. The available time slots are shown in green and you can select any one of them to book an appointment.
On clicking book appointment, you will be shown the complete information about the appointment once more along with the consultation fee that you will be required to fork over. If the information seems correct, just hit confirm appointment button and you are done.
After confirming the appointment, you will shortly receive a confirmation message from Pliro and then all that’s left to do is show up at the date and time that you selected while making the appointment.
4. Online test booking feature
Pliro has joined hands with Chughtai Labs to provide online test booking too. Using this service, patients can book the time and date for a test right from the comfort of their home. Seems pretty convenient, no? Well Pliro goes one step further to make things a bit more easier for the patient. A few online tests also provide the patients with an opt-in home collection service. Making use of this service, the patient can ask for the laboratory’s collection team to visit their premises and pick up the sample themselves. This saves valuable time, and more importantly, energy of patients who are reluctant to leave the premises of their home to go to the laboratory.
Not all tests can be conducted this way though. A few tests which require a more complex and controlled collection method can only be done in a laboratory. So while ordering a test online, carefully see if it provides an opt-in home collection service or not.
Why choose the online way?
Now that we have booked an appointment and are waiting for the right time to arrive to go to doctor, there might be a small voice in your head which must be asking: why? Why choose this online way to book appointments and search for doctors? What benefits does it provide? The most simple answer to this question is “convenience”, “time management” and “trust”.
Technology is meant to simplify lives. We all have been in a situation where we went to a doctor but couldn’t get a prescription owing to a list queue before us. It has also happened that we had no clue that the specialist for our problem sits when at a specific hospital. All of these problems can be solved with ease in a matter of few clicks. You visit a health portal, search for the specific doctor, read the reviews and book an appointment. Now you are sure that you will get to speak to the doctor as per the decided time.
You see, using an online platform like Pliro can make the whole process seem much easier and it also opens the door for allowing patients to leave their reviews of their medical attendant for future help seekers. This isn’t to say that this method is without its hiccups and cons. There is a slight learning curve which might put off some users, and there is also a trust factor which goes in when choosing a doctor based on mere ratings by previous patients.
However, the pros heavily outweigh the cons and the growing use of technology in this field is an inevitable reality.