Vodacom and Discovery have partnered to deliver what they call “a simple but powerful online healthcare platform for the benefit of all South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
According to the companies, “this platform provides easy access for all South Africans to a COVID-19 risk tool, to help understand your personal risk for COVID-19 plus, where needed, to immediately schedule virtual healthcare professional consultations and get advice”.
They note that 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 COVID-19 risk assessment and virtual healthcare tools can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to a hospital.
This reduces overcrowding at clinics and doctors’ rooms where there is greater risk of the virus spreading, and also protects healthcare professionals from potential repeated exposure to COVID-19, Vodacom and Discovery say.
They point out that the online healthcare platform makes it possible for South Africans to access a healthcare professional without them having to travel to a healthcare facility.
“It is simple, free to use and available on any Web or mobile phone facilitating a full consultation with a doctor either through video or audio calls or by text. The service can be accessed by visiting either the Discovery or Vodacom Web sites. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.
The online healthcare platform is dedicated to COVID-19-specific screening and consultations. All doctors are invited to download the Discovery HealthID and DrConnect apps from relevant app stores to join the virtual healthcare platform. Doctors 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.
Seven easy steps
There are seven easy steps to use an online doctor consultation:
1.Start the process by visiting Discovery’s COVID-19 information hub or Vodacom’s Web site. Members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme can access the service through the Discovery app. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.
2.Utilise the COVID-19 self-screening risk assessment tool, by answering a few easy questions.
3.If you are confirmed as high risk of having COVID-19, a short registration and consent process on the DrConnect app will follow.
4.Book a virtual consultation with a doctor who is available to assess the need for COVID-19 testing.
5.If the doctor recommends testing, a photo of the completed pathology form will be sent to you by SMS, WhatsApp or email. The same process will apply to scripts for medicine.
6.Testing and collecting of medicine will be facilitated by the relevant essential healthcare service providers that you have to visit.
7.Doctors will receive test results electronically and can then advise if you should schedule follow-up appointments to discuss results and next steps.