The Time Is Now: The Rise of Virtual CareBy Jacobo Luchtan | Mon, 08/23/2021 - 08:58
With the digital pace gaining momentum in society, the demand for services that can be delivered securely and conveniently to a consumer's mobile device will continue to grow. This demand has led to a major boom in the telehealth industry, which had previously demonstrated its value in long-distance and rural healthcare settings. The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled the acceleration of the industry even further but are these myriad startups providing a service that improves their users' healthcare or just their company's bottom line?
For a telehealth solution to be valuable, especially in Latin America, several barriers to entry need to be addressed. Patient confidence in receiving care through their mobile devices is the most challenging. Knowing that the doctor on the other side is reputable and provides quality care is among the most, if not the most important aspect of the service. Second, real-time audio or video consultations have to be extremely simple and consistent; every engagement needs to be successful to start building confidence in the platform. Third, additional services, such as drug prescriptions, one-click drug delivery, treatment plan follow-ups and more, are crucial for a complete, valuable telehealth experience for the patient.
For most countries around the world, providing quality healthcare at the national level presents a significant challenge and Mexico is no exception. In fact, according to a Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, Mexico’s Health Accessibility and Quality Index (HAQ) is 66.3 percent, No. 61 on the list and below Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Cuba. In addition, Mexico´s life expectancy is 75 years, below the average for all of North and South America. It is ranked No. 1 in the world for overweight and obese children. Little effort and few public resources are invested in addressing the problem. The expenditure in health as a percentage of the country's GDP is just 5.5 percent, one of the lowest in the region. Although providing excellent public healthcare for 130 million people is neither cheap nor easy, a fully-featured telehealth solution, specifically localized for the Latin American market, can be a catalyst to significantly improve the country’s HAQ.
This led us to create Hello Doctor, a healthtech startup that was born two years ago from the belief that healthcare is a human right and everyone should have access to safe and reputable healthcare providers.
To achieve this goal, I am convinced that first telehealth must become a mainstream service for everyone. If you turn to the person next to you and ask, what supermarket delivery app do you use or which is your favorite ride-sharing app, almost everyone will have an answer. Both industries have reputable apps that offer a better experience than going to the market or calling for a cab. If you ask this same person, which app do you use to get online medical consultations? At least in Mexico, almost no one will have an answer.
Because of this, our go-to-market strategy has several stages. The first and most important is for telehealth to become a mainstream service, to be part of the daily habits of people and a top-of-mind solution for preventive healthcare. All barriers needed to be torn down. So, with important alliances, we have developed a free, unlimited online primary care medical advice service. You, your child, your grandma … anyone can connect to a qualified general doctor right now and get medical advice, and tomorrow again, and the next day again. You only need to have a working mobile device with a camera and to download the Hello Doctor Patient App. The consultation can happen through video or, where internet connectivity is limited, you can speak with a doctor over a regular audio call or chat. You can even change it on-the-go if another channel works better.
We are a team of passionate tech enthusiasts with a dream. After two years of hard work and reading the pulse of the market, “Hello Doctor: Free Medical Advice” is a reality and we are eager to lead the way in revolutionizing and democratizing healthcare in Mexico and Latin America. This is just the beginning.