Poor, isolated communities living in rural regions with harsh climatic conditions lack access to qualified health care providers and health care institutions. Patients pay large sums of money for travel, food and lodging to go from these areas, where high-quality diagnostic services and treatment is unavailable, to higher-level facilities.
Telehealth is a conduit for patients, providing convenient access to a wide continuum of health services and reducing barriers of distance and time. Telehealth provides numerous benefits to patients and their caregivers, including time saved traveling to and from doctor’s appointments; less time spent away from home/work; financial savings and access to qualified specialists, regardless of location.
AKDN dHRC has designed and developed the VirtualDoc mobile app to facilitate real time, teleconsultations for patients seeking health care services from remote locations. VirtualDoc is an Android-based application, which allows patients and physicians to communicate from anywhere in the world. The application allows users to purchase credit using a prepaid connection or credit card and consult a doctor via audio/video call through the app. The application also manages records for prescriptions; radiology and laboratory tests; and treatment plans. Patients can share their records and other relevant information with concerned departments at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Karachi.
Currently, the application is in the development phase, plans are to implement the application in the Department of Orthopedics at the AKUH, Karachi; Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at AKUH, Nairobi and with Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan.