Vodacom and Discovery have teamed up to develop risk assessment and virtual healthcare tools for citizens to assess their Covid-19 risk, schedule virtual healthcare professional consultations and get advice.
The Covid-19 online healthcare platform can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to a hospital.
“Globally, telemedicine has proved invaluable in the management of this disease, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating for digital healthcare tools and virtual consults to be the first step and primary means of healthcare support during the Covid-19 outbreak,” the duo said in a statement.
“Our partnership with Discovery can go a long way in alleviating any increased pressure on healthcare practitioners while at the same time empowering citizens by connecting them to doctors. As a leading technology company, we are optimistic about the capabilities of digital connectivity to transform the lives of our communities,” Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said.
The free healthcare platform, dedicated to Covid-19-specific screening and consultations, can be accessed on the Discovery or Vodacom websites with any mobile phone facilitating a full consultation with a doctor either through video or audio calls or by text, or Vodacom customers can undertake a self-assessment through USSD, while Discovery Health Medical Scheme members can access the service through the Discovery app.
Through the online doctor consultation platform, anyone looking for Covid-19-related information will be connected to a network of doctors who will be readily available to answer their questions.
With the platform making it possible for South Africans to access a healthcare professional without them having to travel to a healthcare facility, overcrowding at clinics and doctors’ rooms where there is greater risk of the virus spreading can be reduced.
This will also protect healthcare professionals from potential repeated exposure to Covid-19.
“In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic that purpose is very simple – we need to keep South Africans out of harm’s way. We are very hopeful that this initiative will make a huge impact on the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa – for the good of all our citizens,” said Discovery Group CEO Adrian Gore.
Through the partnership, Discovery’s existing DrConnect platform, which was previously available only to Discovery clients, is now accessible to all South Africans.
Vodacom and Discovery have also jointly created a fund to pay doctors for about 100 000 consultations, making them free to any South African.
All doctors, who are invited to download the Discovery HealthID and DrConnect apps from relevant app stores to join the virtual healthcare platform, will receive guidance on how to consult and how to receive payment from the dedicated fund that Discovery and Vodacom have set up for these specific consultations.
“It has always been part of the Vodacom Financial Services’ strategy to deliver innovative health solutions to our customers and the current Covid-19 crisis has called for us to move quicker than we had anticipated,” added Vodacom Financial Services CEO Mariam Cassim.