22 May 2017
Have you ever heard of services such as 'Mobile Doctors 24/7' or Abu Dhabi 'Telemedicine centre'? These are services providing medical consultation over the phone without requiring a physical visit to hospitals or clinics. Patients need not to worry, as the consultants are registered doctors so you can be assured their advices are as good as any other doctor. While this is a relatively a new concept in the region, other countries like the US, Canada and UK, increasing number of people are converting to online consultation to bypass hassles such as long wait times, or potential risk of getting infected by germs and viruses from other patients. DrFive has found 3 services available in the UAE for consultation over the phone: 'Mobile Doctors 24/7', 'Telemedicine centre' and 'HeyDoc!'. Each of them had their own unique selling points and challenges and we thought to cover them one by one below.
First, Abu Dhabi 'Telemedicine centre'. This is basically a phone colsultation service run by the well known Mubadala group. The group is a huge network of medical entities covering flagship 'Healthpoint Hospital', prestigious 'Cleveland Clinic' and specialty services like 'Wooridule Spine Hospital' among others. You can trust that 'Telemedicine centre' provides a dependable quality service. However, you should note that 'Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre' is only available to those holding Thiqa or Daman Enhanced insurance card. DrFive tried to experience their service but the first thing they checked for was whether you hold the right insurance or not. In any other cases, you are recommended to visit nearby clinics instead. Check below video for more information on 'Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre'.
Second service provider we checked was 'HeyDoc!'. They claim to be an "award winning global telemedicine platform" connecting patients with the right medical consultants. The problem we faced was that we could not find enough number of doctors to connect to. For example when we checked 'pediatric' doctor section, there was only one doctor listed, who was unable to connect as he was marked 'busy'. Later HeyDoc! sent me an email explaing that they are going through a platform revision for 2 weeks. Hopefully it features more available doctors. You can check the link below for more details about their sevices.
The third telemedicine service in town is 'Mobile Doctors 24/7'. The app is filled with services like "Readings" for checking your vital signs, "Wellness" tracker for monitoring of physical movements, and "Medications" for helping keep you updated with your prescribed schedule. 'MobileDoctors 24/7' also provided a 1 day complementary access for new subscribers which we found useful. If you are willing to continue using the service, you can choose to pay AED 176 per year for an indivivual plan and AED 440 annually for a family plan. Check the video below for more.
Now the question patients will face is whether or not they prefer to talk a doctor over the phone, or to go and physically meet with them. Yes, I am pretty certain many patients will prefer a face-to-face consultation. However, what if you are unable to find the time, or capability to move from your office, or you don't have insurance and the price is X 10 cheaper? We will leave the final verdict to the DrFive community, but one thing is clear: you will hear more and more of such services going forward.