Dubai: UAE residents can soon video consult a general practitioner in 30 minutes through a private healthcare group’s mobile app.
Aster DM Healthcare on Monday officially unveiled the full-fledged version of ‘myAster’ app, said to be the region’s first integrated healthcare platform providing access to hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres and pharmacies.
As part of the expansion of the app that has seen 352,000 downloads and served 1 million users since its phase one launch in July last year, the group has added several features that will enable patients to access healthcare services and information digitally.
Alisha Moopen, deputy managing director, Aster DM Healthcare, and Brandon Rowberry, CEO of Digital Health, unveiled the free medical app available on the App Store and Play Store.
Some of the key features of the app include booking appointments from among 430 doctors across five hospitals, 48 clinics and over 20 medical specialities. The app allows video consultations, online payments through secure gateway, access to online pharmacy with doctor prescription delivered to homes within 90 minutes, and order health and wellness essentials online as well as to avail offers and deals. Through the app, patients can also access their scans and medical reports.
“We are also launching our Instant GP feature enabling our users to video consult with a general practitioner in as early as 30 minutes,” Moopen announced at a press conference held during the app unveiling ceremony.
She said the group developed the “doctor on demand” service to help cut the waiting time for patients who want to video consult a doctor from wherever they are.
Speaking to Gulf News later, she said the new service will be launched in two weeks. “We want to wait and see what the demand is going to be,” said Moopen.
Explaining further, she said: “Sometimes when you really need to see a doctor, you’re not able to get them and you have to wait. You don’t want to do that. So we said let’s solve this as a feature on the app. Adding doctors is a lot easier because of the ecosystem and because we have 400 doctors already in the network just here within us. So we said let’s start with one or two doctors and then we’ll scale up as needed or depending on how people are responding to it.”
Moopen revealed that the group found the ‘doctor in pharmacy’ service that was launched last year as not a popular model evolving over here.
“We thought, like in the US, people would come to your big pharmacies and they would also want to see a doctor there. We tried one at the Expo. We’ve tried another couple of them,” she said, adding that the response was not as great as expected.
She said surveys were done with customers to see what works here.
What patients asked for
“People want to be able to get the insurance approval and not have to wait around. People want their medicines delivered home. As we were doing feedbacks and surveys with our customers, they’re asking for GP on demand, which is why we added these.”
She said the app allows patients to know the eligibility for insurance coverage in each facility depending on the network and policy they have.
“Sometimes people end up in the hospital and they cannot go to the hospital until a GP has seen them, which is where the app really becomes useful because you know, I need to go to the clinic and these are the clinics covered in my network. Let me go there first. So you don’t end up wasting time going from point A to point B, which is no fault of yours, no fault of the insurance company or provider. But it can be a frustrating experience for a customer. So, through the app, you know these are my clinics that I can go to, let me go there first or else you can go straight to the hospital where your insurance is accepted.”
Moopen added: “Aster DM Healthcare is aligned with the UAE’s 2031 Vision for developing the health sector by providing the best-in-class services and continually updating them. The myAster app is developed with the aim of aligning and catering to the constantly changing landscape of medical needs of patients in the UAE and across the world. As healthcare providers, we must be equipped to handle those changes with the latest technologies. The idea of offering accessible personalised healthcare through a single platform that brings together all of the patient journey is in line with Aster’s vision of providing affordable quality healthcare to all.”
Earlier, Rowberry said the app now ranks as top-free medical app on the App Store and Play Store due to its huge acceptance among patients as a one-stop digital healthcare platform for patients, offering a single point access to a comprehensive range of healthcare services.
Homecare services to be added
He added: “In alignment with UAE’s Vision 2031 to position the country in the Top 10 for quality healthcare, the myAster app was created to serve the needs of the citizens across the GCC and is designed with transparency at its core…Now our users have access to 200+ Aster hospital doctors for appointment booking. The user interface is easy to navigate, and they can view doctor schedules and slots to select a doctor for consultation. As we continue to innovate, we will be adding Homecare services to the myAster app in the near future.”
Supported by a fully functional help centre, the app also comes with an inbuilt automatic insurance integration and approval and features such as storage for patients to save and keep records of all healthcare documents for the entire family on the digital platform.