Digital healthcare startup Vezeeta launches app in Kenya
One of Africa and the Middle East's leading digital healthcare firms is expanding its operations with a platform that will allow people in Kenya to access doctors online via their smart phones.
Users can download the app, available for Android and IOS, sign up to the type of consultation they need, and add a region and type of insurance cover. They can then search for and select a doctor. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The app offers patients 30 specialty areas to choose from, including dentistry, respiratory, dermatology and orthopedics. Doctors are all registered under the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council.
Research has found shortages in Kenya's healthcare system, particularly in chest specialists, hospital physicians and emergency care nurses. These are especially pronounced in rural areas, where 70% of Kenyan's live, who largely rely on community health volunteers and nurses who provide primary health care services like vaccinations.
The Covid-19 pandemic has amplified these challenges. In a press release, Vezeeta Africa Vice President Nana Frimpong said that the app will allow people in Kenya to access expert medical advice from the safety of their homes, as well as receive guidance on identifying and dealing with the virus, without risking exposure.
“As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to present complex healthcare challenges to the public, we see our role and responsibility as a health-tech leader and trusted partner to ensure that the well-being and health of our patients remains uninterrupted" he said.
“We believe that through this initiative, we are supporting not only the Government of Kenya but also empowering Kenyans to make more informed decisions on their healthcare choices and improve access to doctors in general."
Vezeeta was originally founded in Egypt, with the aim of supporting the country's ambulance service with an online service. It's since expanded to include online bookings in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Lebanon and Jordan.
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.