Finding the right doctor can take some time if you are not familiar with the medical care available in the area. It could also be challenging to get an appointment with a doctor in the UAE despite the country offering hi-tech healthcare industry and innovative therapies.
Patients usually needs to call a call centre for an appointment which then checks the availability of the doctor and calls the customer back. When the call centre calls, the patient may be busy or may miss the call.
Dubai-based healthcare start-up Okadoc is using technology to solve this problem which does not require calling the hospital or clinic staff. Similar apps are already available such as Zocdoc in the US and Dr Lib in Europe and working well and that made Benturquia to start Okadoc and bring it to the region.
“When you can book an airline ticket, book a taxi and order food online within 30 seconds, why can’t it be applied to the healthcare industry,” said Fodhil Benturquia, CEO and founder of Okadoc.com.
According to Benturquia, the key difference between Okadoc and other healthcare apps in the country is that Okadoc instantly books while other apps request that results in a call.
He says that Instant booking means that the patient is talking directly to the system of hospitals and clinics through the app in real time and he hopes this reduces friction and improves the efficiency of healthcare providers.
In most of the clinics, he said that the patient has to call during working hours and Friday is a holiday while in hospitals, they have call centres. But booking a doctor through a call centre is a pain.
Doctors in the app can be searched by specialty, location, insurance, spoken language of the practitioner, gender, name of the doctor. The app is available in English and Arabic and is free for patients but a clinic has to pay AED 500 per month. Okadoc is currently available in the UAE but expected to launch in Saudi Arabia later this year followed by other GCC countries.
Booking and cancelling
“Patients can book, reschedule and cancel an appointment instantly. It takes less than 40 seconds to book an appointment, less than five seconds and two clicks to cancel while three clicks and seven seconds to reschedule an appointment. We have done full integration of the app with the clinics and hospitals,” he said.
Another big issue is canceling appointments for which you need to call the clinic or the hospital and it is difficult to get through. “This is creating a very high no-show, also known as or missed appointment, to the clinics and hospitals. The average no-show in the US is 23% while it is 37% in the UAE and more than 50% in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
People either forget their appointment dates and for those that do try to cancel the appointment, the waiting time is too long or outside the working hours of the clinic. However, Okadoc has proven to cut down on no-shows by up to 75% as it gives patients reminders of their upcoming appointments through SMS, e-mail, adds to your default calendar and push notifications.
Okadoc has signed up with 1,000 doctors in the UAE and more than 100 registered hospitals and clinics. It has also signed a deal with Dubai Healthcare City (DHC) free zone whereby patients can book an appointment with a doctor at DHC through Okadoc.
“We have seven clinics at DHC now and our aim is to have most of the 186 hospitals and clinics at DHC on our app within the next three years,” said Benturquia.
Benturquia is also the ex-manager of Souq.com and MarkaVIP, and ex-CEO of noon.com. Okadoc, in less than a year, has raised several million dollars in a Series A round and looking to close its Series B round of funding soon, which will make it the most funded healthcare start-up in the region.