செய்தி ஊடகம் Uncategorized

Ooredoo Maldives partners with Sri Lanka’s ‘oDoc’ telemedicine platform

Ooredoo Maldives partners with Sri Lanka's 'oDoc' telemedicine platform


Local telecom giant Ooredoo Maldives, on Sunday, announced its partnership with Sri Lanka’s leading telemedicine platform ‘oDoc’.

The platform connects patients with doctors for virtual consultations, with the aim of connecting people to “high quality health care that is universally accessible and affordable to all”, said Ooredoo Maldives’ Managing Director and CEO Najib Khan.

Customers can access the service and be billed directly by Ooredoo via its carrier billing service, eliminating the need for credit or debit cards, and is available to both its Postpaid and Prepaid users.

“Access to digital platforms such as oDoc has become necessary during these unprecedented times. Our customers can now reach out to their doctors in Sri Lanka for follow ups at their convenience, without having to travel and at an affordable price”, said Khan.

Users can utilize the oDoc virtual clinic to seek medical consultations from over 450 Sri Lankan doctors including general practitioners, pediatricians, psychiatrists, dermatologists, gynecologists and more, with a waiting time of less than three minutes.

Furthermore, Ooredoo revealed that Maldivian doctors will be added to the platform in the future.

All doctors on oDoc are fully qualified, registered and have at least five years of post-internship experience. They are also authorized to issue prescriptions to a patient’s phone after a thorough video consultation.

Research by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that nearly 75 percent of regular doctor visits can be handled through audio video consultations.

“With the advancements in technology, fast moving, digitally enabled and always connected lifestyle, Telemedicine has gained acceptance and popularity across the globe”, said Ooredoo, adding that over 200,000 Sri Lankans currently trust oDoc for their healthcare.

  View Article on The Edition

Back to oDoc Blog

Back to oDoc Blog

செய்தி ஊடகம் Uncategorized

How digital companies are reducing the strain on our health sector

How digital companies are reducing the strain on our health sector

As demand for medical professionals, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities keeps growing across Sri Lanka, there has never been a greater need to diversify the country’s healthcare sector and find a more efficient solution in order to reduce the overall strain on healthcare professionals.This has brought in a new appreciation towards local digital healthcare services such as telemedicine companies and e-pharmacies, and they have seen a significant growth in the usage of these services since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.
In light of this, The Sunday Morning Business spoke to two of the most prominent players in this market segment to determine the response they have received during the prevailing virus outbreak in the country.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, Dr. Janaka Wickramasinghe, the Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of oDoc, Sri Lanka’s largest telemedicine company, stated that the demand for oDoc has increased immensely over the past few months, especially with the Government endorsing telemedicine as a response to staying safe during Covid-19.

The oDoc app allows patients to consult doctors via video, audio, or text, thus enabling patients to do so in the safety and comfort of their own homes. It also allows patients to channel Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC)-registered doctors, obtain medical advice, receive prescriptions, and even get medicine delivered.

Currently, oDoc has over 200,000 Sri Lankan users and acts as a B2B (business-to-business) app for over 60 local corporates by helping the employers provide their employees with medical care. Recently, the home-grown service expanded their operations internationally to India and the Maldives. It also won the Commonwealth Digital Health Award in Telemedicine and the e-Swabhimani Digital Social Impact Award.
“In a pandemic like this, where even stepping out could increase the risk of us catching the virus or spreading it, telemedicine is the best way forward. You minimise the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. You can use oDoc to get your initial consultation done and get advice on what you need to do based on your symptoms,” said Dr. Wickramasinghe.

Telemedicine looks to address several issues of the local healthcare system in the current environment. These include the congestion of public healthcare facilities which leads to an increase in the transmission of the disease, access to healthcare, healthcare expenditure due to increased demand for tertiary healthcare, and the risk of exposing elderly patients to Covid-19.

According to Dr. Wickramasinghe, oDoc gives three solutions for the issues plaguing the current healthcare system: Giving initial medical advice, care for domestic isolated, and care for vulnerable groups.
Initial medical advice includes unwell individuals first doing online consultations without having to go to a hospital. After the consultation, they can be directed to a hospital for examination if needed. This is set to reduce congestion and the risk of infection from other patients.
As for the second use, individuals who have been quarantined can use the platform to obtain medical advice as their movement is restricted.
Finally, vulnerable groups such as the elderly with other underlying health conditions, who are doubly vulnerable to Covid-19 and have seen higher mortality rates the world over, can use the platform to avoid visiting crowded hospitals unless absolutely necessary. Prescription renewals could also be handled by the platform.

The platform also looks at improving the health of citizens by giving increased access to healthcare, reducing healthcare expenditure by reducing demand for tertiary healthcare, and increasing the productivity of citizens and associated economic benefits.

Dr. Wickramasinghe stated that since the start of the pandemic, the app has had over 25,000 downloads, with around 5,000 video consultations completed just last month. Accordingly, in order to deal with this sudden increase in consultation volumes, they have had to bring onboard over 150 additional doctors to the platform. This has increased the number of doctors on the app to over 600.

He stated that all these doctors have to follow the most up-to-date protocols published by the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services specifically when dealing with Covid-19. Furthermore, he said the platform has joined hands with government doctors to launch the Sri Lanka National Telemedicine Service on behalf of the Ministry of Health, with the support of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA).

“Through this CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiative, every Sri Lankan has the option to obtain a video consultation with a government doctor free of charge via oDoc from the comfort of their homes,” he explained.

This has increased daily consultations through the app by 10x and made oDoc the number one medical app on Google Play and Apple App Store for Sri Lanka, even above other e-channelling apps.
“Many users are downloading oDoc to use our advanced Covid Self-Assessment Tool, which is based on WHO (World Health Organisation) and CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines that are continuously updated. It is available in Sinhala, Tamil, and English,” he noted.

Dr. Wickramasinghe further stated that from their B2B side, the platform has signed over 20 companies to their corporate subscription programme since the beginning of Covid-19, which increased their total number of corporate partners to over 60.

He explained that the biggest challenge they faced before the outbreak was convincing the user to do the first consultation on oDoc. However, with the Covid-19 outbreak and telemedicine being the first response to it, a lot more people have used it and felt how convenient and effective it is. Due to this, even post-Covid it will be the new norm, he said.
Pharmacy online

Healthnet is Sri Lanka’s first full service e-pharmacy. According to its CEO/Director Deeshana Basnayake and COO/Director Rangika Wijesinghe, their orders and deliveries went up a few fold compared to their usual traffic during the few months prior to the outbreak. They stated that while it is hard to provide an exact number, the number of deliveries has increased by a few thousand.

First introduced in 2016, Healthnet delivers pharmaceuticals to the consumer’s doorstep for the existing retail market prices without any extra charge. Consumers can place their order by sending their prescriptions and required personal details via the Healthnet website, mobile app, email, Viber, WhatsApp, or general line. The platform provides high service quality due to the end-to-end services provided in-house.

Healthnet sources all medications directly from licensed importers and authorised agents. Prescriptions are prepared by Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC)-certified pharmacists and delivered using temperature-controlled transport units. The platform adheres to the regulations and guidelines set forth by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) functioning under the purview of the Ministry of Health.
“Consumers who are essentially patients need to have uninterrupted access to health services, despite any prevailing situation,” said Basnayake and Wijesinghe.

They explained that since the outbreak, consumers have had no physical access to a pharmacy, which has made it mandatory for them to reach out to online pharmacy services, similar to the way they have for other essential goods such as food. Due to this, the platform has experienced a significant shift in consumer behaviour towards online pharmacies.

Basnayake and Wijesinghe stated that since the outbreak, Healthnet has been seeing an increase in daily traffic to their website, amounting between 30,000 and 40,000 visits per day. Furthermore, despite this increase in operational demand, they have faced challenges of having to work with minimum resources due to the lockdown and being only able to mobilise a section of their staff.

In order to handle this increase in demand, they stated that they have activated remote working and working-from-home procedures for some staff, changed some of their processes that were identified as bottlenecks, optimised available resources, and stretched the working hours while introducing two shifts for operations.

Speaking on the training procedure of their delivery partners during the current environment, the two stated that their deliveries are anyway done in compliance to the guidelines stipulated by the NMRA through their own staff. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, they have further enhanced this by following WHO standards wen it comes to social distancing, such as conducting deliveries while wearing personal protective equipment (PPEs) and cashless transactions.

Basnayake and Wijesinghe stated that while there could be a certain percentage of consumers who may go back to the conventional methods post Covid, those who believe in social distancing and have experienced the benefits of online services will continue to patronise digital services. Healthnet currently delivers within the Colombo District and intends to expand to other regions of the country.

The greatest advantage of digital healthcare services such as telemedicine and e-pharmacies is that they promote accessibility in medical care, which is currently a hurdle faced internationally as well as locally. Therefore, the increasing popularity of them in Sri Lanka is something that should provide comfort to us all.

View Article on The Sunday Morning LK


Back to oDoc Blog

Back to oDoc Blog

செய்தி ஊடகம் Uncategorized

Union Assurance partners oDoc to ensure protection of policyholders

Union Assurance partners oDoc to ensure protection of policyholders

With the spread of COVID-19 continuing to create unprecedented challenges to communities, Union Assurance PLC (UA) as an organization deeply committed to protect the well-being of its stakeholders, has been carrying out various programs to respond to this global health, economic and social emergency. As part of this commitment, UA was one of the first Life Insurance companies to cover COVID-19 through its health covers to protect and support the health and well-being of its customers.

UA has taken a step further to reach out to its policyholders by partnering with oDoc, a leading telemedicine solutions provider to offer convenient access to medical consultancy services and pharmaceutical deliveries. Customers that face various health conditions can now obtain the following services via oDoc: Free unlimited audio and video consultations with SLMC registered doctors not just for the policyholder, but up to 3 additional family members, digital prescription issuances along with discounted pharmacy deliveries and discounted mobile lab services to selected locations are offered for UA customers. This special service offering is valid from May 4, 2020 for a period of 3 months.

Commenting on this new initiative, Rumesh Modarage, Assistant General Manager – Life, of Union Assurance said, “We are pleased to partner with oDoc to offer our customers professional telemedicine services especially during these challenging times. Through oDoc our policyholders can avail themselves of services right from their living rooms instead of waiting rooms, ensuring round-the-clock access to medical care. All UA customers are invited to sign-up for oDoc services through or via their mobile phones.

View Article on Business News LK

Back to oDoc Blog

Back to oDoc Blog

செய்தி ஊடகம் Uncategorized

oDoc named one of India’s top 50 disruptive startups

oDoc named one of India’s top 50 disruptive startups

oDoc Team

oDoc has been recognised as one of India’s top 50 disruptive startups for 2019 by YourStory.

YourStory is India’s largest media-tech company for startups, entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and changemakers.

Having only started their Indian operations in June 2019, oDoc has proven its worth to Sri Lanka’s neighbour to be placed 33rd amongst India’s most disruptive startups. The 50 startups that were named are all using technology to create a profound impact and change lives for the better. oDoc, Sri Lanka’s largest telemedicine service provider, is the only non-Indian company to be featured on this prestigious list.

“Three years ago, my little son was feeling unwell in the middle of the night. My wife and I rushed him to the hospital for a consultation. The doctor diagnosed him with a minor ailment and mentioned, with an apologetic look, that I didn’t need to bring him. This series of events used to occur almost on a monthly basis. It made me wonder about the number of people who make unnecessary trips to the hospital, wasting both money and time. While on yet another visit, flipping through a magazine in the doctor’s waiting room, I came across an article on telemedicine – a method already used throughout the world to consult doctors from anywhere over the phone. This was when the idea of oDoc was born, and now three years down the line it is gratifying and exciting to be recognised as one of the 50 disruptive startups in India,” said oDoc Co-Founder and CEO Heshan Fernando.

oDoc, which was co-founded by Fernando, Dr. Janaka Wickremasinghe, Sanjay Jayawardena and Sohan Dharmarajah, PhD, launched its commercial operations in Sri Lanka in 2017. They now have over 40 corporate clients who offer oDoc as a free health benefit to their employees. oDoc’s clientele includes Brandix, Crystal Martin, AIA Insurance, Uber, Commercial Bank and PickMe to name a few.

The oDoc app connects over 250 SLMC registered doctors with company employees, for video, audio and chat consultations within three minutes of booking, 24/7.

View Article on Daily FT


Back to oDoc Blog

Back to oDoc Blog

செய்தி ஊடகம் Uncategorized

Great expectations: How a Sri Lankan start-up plans to conquer India

Great expectations: How a Sri Lankan start-up plans to conquer India

Great expectations: How a Sri Lankan start-up plans to conquer India

In recent years, Colombo has become a hub for start-ups with more and more being established each month. Most of these tend to cater to the local market and rarely venture into global or even regional markets. However, a few start-ups have been ambitious enough to penetrate this geographical glass ceiling and take Sri Lankan products beyond our shores.

oDoc, Sri Lanka’s video medical consultation platform, has become that rare Sri Lankan start-up. It took its services to the regional market, moving into Bangalore, India in February 2019.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Janaka Wickramasinghe stated that the start-up expanded to India using the Techstars Bangalore Accelerator programme, which is dedicated to supporting start-ups from around the world that address emerging market problems. The programme looks out for companies that apply technologies like AI, blockchain, AR/VR, and robotics, and provides them a readymade network of contacts from the respective industry as well as mentors from other industries.

oDoc is a home-grown B2B (business-to-business) app that helps employers provide their employees with medical care. The app allows patients to consult doctors via video, audio, or text, providing them a hassle-free experience. It also allows patients to channel Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC)-registered doctors, obtain medical advice, receive prescriptions, and get medication delivered.

“This is mainly to help people who come from backgrounds with poor access to healthcare; this can be due to cost, location, or many other factors. So, our primary market is the blue-collar worker and not what’s traditionally called white-collar workers.

“We go to the companies they work for and provide telemedicine coverage for these employees at a very low cost, starting at around Rs. 35 or INR 15,” said Dr. Wickramasinghe.

oDoc’s revenue is generated through the companies that subscribe with them. Once a company subscribes, its employees and their families are given unlimited consultations on demand with any of the 440 general physicians (GPs) or specialists partnered with oDoc. The app covers certain specialisations that have a high demand such as paediatrics, gynaecology, dermatology, and mental health services, and the doctors will be available for the employees within the day.

Dr. Wickramasinghe stated that the start-up looks for doctors with medical council registrations, at least five years of experience, and good bedside manners. This was also carried into their expansion to Bangalore.

While currently having around five GPs partnered with them in India, Dr. Wickramasinghe stated that once the demand picks up, oDoc will be taking in more GPs and specialists.

According to him, there are some fundamental differences between the Sri Lankan and Indian markets and the main difference – size – becomes very apparent in certain sectors.

Taking example of one of oDoc’s main clients in Sri Lanka – in the apparel sector – he stated while there are around four or five major companies in all of Sri Lanka employing a few thousand floor workers, India has around 20 or 30 similar companies around its manufacturing hubs such as Bangalore and Chennai.

“If you can establish yourself with one of these 20 or 30 players, the opportunities it presented are of a much higher degree than in Sri Lanka. This is purely because of the size of the market.”

Another big difference he had noticed was that the competition in the workforce was much higher in Sri Lanka as there wasn’t enough labour to go around. Therefore, the Sri Lankan companies had a bigger incentive to provide more benefits in order to attract more workers.

“In India, the motivation isn’t as high as in Sri Lanka; there are so many business and they have a much larger workforce. As such, it’s somewhat of a challenge when it comes to the product we are selling. But then again, these large companies sell to larger buyers in Japan and the US, so they need to maintain good working conditions and ensure workers’ rights are protected.”

Compared to Sri Lanka, communication with the locals in India is proving to be more of a challenge, stated the doctor. This is due to there being several languages spoken in India, such as Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, and Kannada. He stated that finding doctors to speak the three languages in Sri Lanka was much easier than finding doctors to cover all the languages in India.

“When you’re providing a product like ours, it needs to be provided in the local language. These are workers who communicate in their mother tongue, which can be one of many different languages, unlike in Sri Lanka. Here, Sinhalese, Tamil, and English can be easily covered by two or three doctors. But if you want to provide a nationwide service in India, you need to cover many more languages.

“If the doctor and patient aren’t able to communicate, you would not be able to provide the care that is required and it won’t be a pleasant experience for the patient.”

He explained that while these languages differ from region to region, there is the added complexity of migrant workers moving within these regions for work.

Despite these challenges, the oDoc app adapted itself to the Indian environment by including languages like Kannada, Telugu, and Tamil.

Dr. Wickramasinghe stated that one of the similarities they saw in the two markets was that all their clients were interested in innovation and fostering a community environment for their employees.

“Our buyers in both Sri Lanka and India care about their employees and don’t just focus on productivity, even though the availability of an on-demand doctor does reduce the amount of time an employee has to be out of work.”

However, he explained that the propensity to adopt technological solutions in tackling day-to-day problems is much higher in India; this can even be seen with street vendors who have multiple digital wallets.

“The adoption of technology in India can even be seen at the lower end of the income pyramid,” said Dr. Wickramasinghe.

This provides oDoc with more opportunities as it provides them with a much broader segment of the market that looks past high-income earners in urban centres.

According to Dr. Wickramasinghe, while there are several well-funded competitors in the telemedicine space, most of them focus on the consumer market with some competitors having gained a lot of traction.

However, he stated that only very few venture into enterprise sales and that even when they do, they mostly focus on high-end companies like IT firms that cater to white-collar workers.

“While there are well-funded competitors, competition in the B2B space and low-income market is at its infancy,” said Dr. Wickramasinghe.

Dr. Wickramasinghe stated that this doesn’t make it easy for oDoc, as they experience situations like long sales cycles in B2B sales, and without an existing customer in India, it’s difficult to convince others to subscribe.

Speaking about their move to invest, Dr. Wickramasinghe said they are currently raising the next round of funding looking at the potential of the Indian market. While having set aside funding they raised previously, he stated that oDoc India will be run on a shoestring budget, as a proof of concept, to show that they can operate, sell, and grow in India.

He also stated that the move for expansion garnered interest from some foreign angel investors as well as some regional and institutional investors.

“We do have some interest in what we are doing, and it does help having India as a potential growth market due to its size. But then again, there is interest in what we do in Sri Lanka as well, because we have yet to hit capacity. What we want to do is build our Sri Lankan operation to be self-sustaining, and not rely on venture funding.”

Dr. Wickramasinghe went on to speak about the response the app received in India, and stated that several buyers, which have several factories with around 20,000 employees, are interested.

oDoc currently closed with a farm operator which has 10 different sites, and is providing consultations to its workers. They’ve also sold to around five or six white-collar-employee companies, mainly start-ups with around 15 to 20 workers.

“Start-ups find it difficult to provide their employees with services like medical insurance and other benefits as they run on very tight budgets. As such, we present to them a very affordable way for them to provide something for their employees,” said Dr. Wickramasinghe.

As for their future, Dr. Wickramasinghe stated that they are currently focusing around Bangalore, due to it being both a start-up and manufacturing hub, and monitoring the traction and potential growth in India; all the while continuing to help oDoc Sri Lanka grow. He also stated that they have their eye on other South Asian and Southeast Asian markets, where you see a lot of growth in the manufacturing sector.

“We don’t want to ignore the Sri Lankan market, because that’s where a lot of our revenue comes from now and we want to grow that. However, that being said, we do not want try and expand too soon and lose the focus we have here or the service that we are delivering to the clients in Sri Lanka. But we always have our eye on potential markets, especially in the South Asian and Southeast Asian regions.”

By Uvin Lugoda

View Article on The Sunday Morning

Back to oDoc Blog

Back to oDoc Blog