Daktari Africa, a Kenyan telemedicine platform, provides easy access to medical care via a mobile app and website platform
Have you ever looked for a particular medical specialist but did not have his contact? Needed a doctor from your medical insurance panel? Or perhaps you travelled to a new location and got a medical emergency? Worry no more. This revolutionary app might be your perfect call, says Dr. Charles Kamotho, founder and CEO, Daktari Africa.
Daktari Africa is a telemedicine platform that provides easy access to medical care via a mobile app and website platform. The app enables clinical consultations and provide medical information to help individuals take better control of their health.
“We connect people with medical needs to doctors and other clinicians with solutions by using a dependable, efficient, mobile platform,” shares Dr. Kamotho during an interview with Edge Magazine.
Patients on follow-up care, both in urban and remote places can receive quick, quality and affordable medical help at the touch of a button. The app has enabling functions for tele-consultation and tele-monitoring just as one would via Skype.
Patients can sign up and maintain online profile just like they do on social media platforms, the same with doctors. Doctors appear as doctors while patients appear as patients. Users can also keep a personal diary or records of their medical history. The medical history can be shared with doctors for easy consultations, and patients can keep tab of their medical progress.
Find a Doctor
Dr. Kamotho says the platform started as a database/community of doctors in 2008 initially known as Findadoctor.co.ke. In 2009, he formed the holding company called Doctor Search Limited with the concept of helping people find and connect to a medical provider.
He comments that doctors and clinicians are very few in Kenya. “One can travel to a different county or a remote place and miss out on help in case of a medical emergency. What do you do in such a case? These among others are the concerns that led to the introduction of the app.”
Change of model
Dr. Kamotho worked as a consultant physician in Thika District Hospital from 2004 to 2011. During his tenure at the hospital, he asserts that frequent medical checkup was critical for one to prevent, manage or control an illness, in particular lifestyle related diseases. Sadly this was not the case. “We used to receive so many people at the outpatient clinic and it would be virtually impossible to attend to each one of them with the recommended frequency because of the numbers. For a case like diabetes or hypertension, such a patient should be checked initially once every two weeks or more. But because of the large number of patients and very few doctors, patients would be seen once in six months or even once a year. So by the time they accessed medical care they already had medical complications, such as kidney failure or stroke, which would have been prevented earlier.”
This called for a change of the model of care. Kenya has tremendously leveraged on technological growth to become leaders in mobile payment solutions in the world. Healthcare needs to borrow from the same script, he comments adding that, “We in Daktari Africa have leveraged on technology to redefine healthcare provision. Lifestyle diseases, for example hypertension, are now more prevalent in Africa than any other place. These are issues that we cannot just sweep under the rag.”
Users can register online free of charge. However, doctors and other healthcare specialists are charged a subscription fee. “This is because we expose the doctors to an excellent digital platform which can be beneficial to them. They need to maintain a good profile on our platform to increase their chances of online consultations.”
To ensure that only authentic doctors are registered on the platform, the firm crosschecks with the retention register of Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board before approval.
Daktari Africa has 450 doctors and over 600 patients in its database, with 100,000 website hits per month.
Awards and recognition
In 2012 the platform was recognized by the ICT board with a Vision 2030 Award for innovation in Healthcare Delivery. “It was a big shot in the arm and a statement to the industry that we were onto something revolutionary,” says Dr. Kamotho. This sparked some interest from the industry about our innovation with global medical tourism players like Abercrombie & Kent Global Health inking a deal with us.
Daktari Africa was approved for Telemedicine by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board in August 2016. It is also recognized by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Kenya, besides being endorsed by the Kenya Medical Association.
Dr. Kamotho was also quick to point that they had a good standing and recognition at the KPMG Insurance Conference in November 2016.
Despite achieving much success over a couple of years, Dr. Kamotho says that strategic partnerships, especially with healthcare insurance providers will see the platform encourage more users to take up medical covers and ultimately achieve a universal healthcare coverage. “Insurances have been hit with a lot of fraud and inflated costs. We want to help them by reducing costs and curbing fraud. This can reduce the pricing of health covers, hence accessible to more people,” he argues.
The firm has further partnered with Good Life Pharmacy to provide tele-consultation to patients across its outlets, and charges an initial consultation fee of Kshs 950. “With this, many people can afford our services and doctors can feel comfortable offering services. Going forward we are going to embrace a model where services will be charged based on certain modalities.”
Laboratory service providers, radiology companies and pharmaceuticals also form part of its strategic partnerships.
“ICT affects almost all aspects of our life. You can now transfer cash by the touch of a button without necessarily visiting a banking hall. Students can even get exam results via the phone without visiting the examination council. A mobile phone is now the most powerful tool in the world. You can virtually control everything using it. The same can be said to healthcare. Sometimes you can go too far, wait, queue for you to access medical care. Our app help users access medical care from where you are with ease, convenience and affordability,” comments Mark Ojuok, manager at Daktari Africa.
In 2015, Daktari Africa was recognized by Spring Accelerator because of its ability to connect the youth to medical services. “We were able to work with 95 young girls and 35 boys from the slums, connecting them to medical providers via our app. We empowered them because they usually go through a lot in order to access medical services, especially coming from humble backgrounds.”
The award was given to 18 companies out of over 300 applicants, and Daktari Africa formed the first cohort. Spring Accelerator was formed by NIKE Foundation and is supported by USAID and UKDFID.
“We intend to expand this scope, counsel and empower more youth from vulnerable backgrounds.”
Thus far, Dr. Kamotho comments that some competitors have tried to replicate the model of online consultations in Kenya. However Daktari Africa is well versed about local health issues and deeply focused on health outcomes, compliance with regulators and specialized service provision, which have thrust it at the market leadership. “Despite having achieved success, we are not resting on our laurels. We have a lot of work to do and we aim to be the leading telemedicine platform across Africa by providing quality medical services to everyone,” he concludes.