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Discovery Health adds video doctor consultations to app

Discovery Health has added a virtual physical therapy services option to its mobile.
Discovery Health has added a virtual physical therapy services option to its mobile.

Discovery Health has overhauled its mobile app to integrate new digital healthcare services, including video consultations with medical practitioners.

According to the health insurance provider, the personalised app integrates everything to do with the health of its medical aid customers’ health in one place. It provides access to users’ wellness update, enables them to manage their medical aid plan and obtain info on healthcare funding sources.

The additions were announced yesterday during a virtual media conference.

The changes are introduced as part of the company’s strategy to offer customers digital health services that provide immediate solutions to their emerging needs, it says.

The app now also provides access to three digital healthcare offerings: a “Speak to a Doctor Now” service, a virtual physical therapy service and a digital therapeutics for mental health offering – the latter has a focus on internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy for people at risk or living with depression.

“The new Discovery Health app is the digital front door to the health system for our customers, providing a single access point through which health consumers can meet all their digital healthcare needs,” says Dr Ryan Noach, CEO of Discovery Health.

“In designing the app features and usability, we’ve analysed how, when, where and why customers interact with the healthcare system and the elements that could improve their wellbeing and their experience of the healthcare system.”

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare sector across the globe saw a significant shift in healthcare from the doctor's office to the patient’s home, with the rapid increase in video-consultation solutions.

In SA, healthcare firms − including Clicks, MediRite and Medicross − are among those that have implemented virtual consultation options for patients.

According to Noach, Discovery Health conducted extensive analysis among its members, including more than 2 000 hours of digital focus groups, to understand their healthcare priorities.

A particularly frequent use case is where parents need guidance on how to deal with a sick child after a workday or in the middle of the night, when traditional options for medical help are less accessible.

“Our data shows that between 16:00 and 20:00, there is a spike in members visiting hospital emergency rooms to access advice or care for relatively minor healthcare issues that need after-hours attention,” adds Noach.

“This is not only inconvenient for members but also costly and inefficient, with lengthy waiting times and frequently poorer perceptions of service and care.”

For an immediate doctor consultation virtually, customers can access care from a panel of listed emergency doctors.

Within the Discovery Health app, customers can also undertake a quick mental wellbeing assessment and access an emergency in-app button, which automatically geolocates the user and summons emergency medical services to their location.

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