With rapid advancements in the field of technology, it was inevitable that healthcare services would also become available via the Internet. In the foreseeable future, it is possible that doctors – and other professionals – get replaced by Artificial Intelligence. Whether that happens or not is another debate, but today’s hot topic is telemedicine – which allows remote diagnosis and treatment of patients using telecom, mobile, and video-calling technologies.
Developed countries are readily embracing this unconventional style of medical treatment. Just last month, the United States Senate introduced a new bill that seeks to reduce restriction on telemedicine. Asian countries, on the other hand, are slowly embracing this concept. The Southeast Asia healthcare market is worth $100 billion. Now numerous telemedicine startups are striving to get a piece of the pie and provide patients with virtual healthcare services. SehatYab is one such startup that aims to make telemedicine readily available to the people of Pakistan.
Making Pakistan ‘SehatYab’
SehatYab was co-founded in late 2015 by Nadeem Nazir, Farrukh Sohail, and Yaqub Ahsan, with a vision to make healthcare accessible for anyone with an internet connection. Using SehatYab’s web-based platform, people can video-consult with a doctor, and get a diagnoses and treatment plan from the comfort of their homes or offices. While speaking with TechJuice, Mr. Nadeem said, “Approximately 70% of diseases and ailments for which patients visit a doctor’s clinic do not require an in-person visit.” In accordance with approved practices of international telemedicine associations, and after doing a thorough local market research, the startup decided to offer patient consultations only for those diseases for which a telemedical diagnosis works best.
SehatYab is seeing 250 to 300 user registrations and up to 30 video consultations per day.
SehatYab started a soft launch of its platform in July 2017 and is currently running awareness campaigns. The startup’s plan is to address patients from both urban and rural settings but for now, the startup aims to penetrate the urban healthcare sector. With 17% of the Pakistani population already having access to the Internet, the startup is betting on the rapid development of both the Internet and smart devices in order to reach potential users on their platform.
Psychiatry, Dermatology, Family Health and much more
SehatYab did a thorough research in selecting the medical specialties which it would cover. The platform currently offers patient consultations with specialist doctors in the areas of Psychiatry, Psychology, Dermatology, Nutrition, and General/Family Medicine. Patients can register on the platform and by using their account they can book an appointment with a specialist doctor. SehatYab isn’t non-profit. Patients are required to make a payment for the consultation fee after which their appointment is confirmed. The platform currently offers multiple payment options including Online Money Transfer via credit or debit cards, Easy Paisa, and Bank Deposit/Transfer.
Renowned doctors like Dr. Mowadat Hussain Rana, Dr. Tanvir Akhter, and Dr. Riaz Qureshi are on its board of advisors.
SehatYab currently employs 10 specialist doctors for the aforementioned specialties and charges PKR 750 per appointment. However, appointments with psychiatrists are charged between PKR 1,250 to PKR 5,000. All the doctors go through a rigorous credentialing process. The startup ensures that their doctors are PMDC registered and conform to the best medical standards before hiring them. SehatYab’s panel of doctors includes the likes of Dr. Mowadat Rana, Dr. Tanvir Akhter, and Dr. Riaz Qureshi (honorary advisor), all of whom are medical veterans and have years of experience up their sleeves which ensures that quality medical service is delivered to patients. Moreover, the startup also follows the EU standards to manage patient’s data security and privacy.
Upon SehatYab’s recent soft launch, patient registration on its platform has increased steadily with the number of registered patients expected to exceed 10,000 by the end of August. The platform is currently seeing about 250 to 300 registrations per day. At the same time, about 30 patients have been visiting the online platform for video consultations daily. The patient feedback post-consultation is at an impressive 93% satisfaction level.
The challenge of innovation and patient security
One of the most pressing challenges with telemedicine is building a level of trust with the patients that the doctor treating them from behind a laptop screen is, in fact, trustworthy. SehatYab is addressing this issue by allowing patients to have the first appointment free of charge. Down the road, the startup expects that positive feedback and referrals from current patients will bring in more users.
93% people who have used SehatYab gave a positive feedback.
While the feedback SehatYab has received from its patients about the service is very positive, the team feels strongly responsible about patient’s data. Their security setup is split three ways. For billing and payment purposes, the entire financial transactions are encrypted and information rests with the user bank. The video consultation communication between the doctor and patient is not recorded and is secured through top-notch technology. And finally, a patient’s medical history is saved on the platform which can only be viewed by the patient or the doctor they are consulting with. All patient data is hosted on secure Amazon servers.
What does the future hold for SehatYab?
SehatYab is not the only telemedicine startup in Pakistan, but SehatYab distinguishes itself through its expertise in healthcare instead of technology whereas a majority of other telemedicine startups are run by technology startups offering marketplace platforms. But SehatYab is embracing competition. “We welcome more organizations entering the telemedicine services in Pakistan as it will build this huge market in the country,” Mr. Nadeem told us.
SehatYab’s founders bring international experience to the startup’s management team. Nadeem Nazir is a Chartered Accountant by profession who has been CEO for a major healthcare company in the Middle East whereas Yaqub Ahsan has over 20 years of experience in the Middle Eastern and North American IT markets. Farrukh Sohail leads Strategy & Communications at SehatYab with his investment banking, and software engineering experience in Pakistan, Middle East, and the USA.
With strong management credentials, Team SehatYab is set to make healthcare accessible, convenient and affordable to the people of Pakistan. The next technology milestone on SehatYab’s to-do list is to launch their mobile app. Currently 75% people using their web-based platform come from mobile. So to enhance the user experience for mobile-users, a mobile app is in the pipeline. With a good response from the market, the startup is also gearing up to expand its team of 25 members and get more doctors on-board.
But the real question is, will the Pakistani people suddenly make the shift to telemedicine? It is an uphill journey and SehatYab is already on its way.
This paid content has been produced in collaboration with our sponsor SehatYab.