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Bringing medical care closer to Nigerians with IDHS.HealthWise

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Andrew Eweka

Prince Andrew Eweka, is the Managing Director of Integrated Digital Healthcare System Limited (IDHS). IDHS promotes IDHS.HealthWise, an integrated healthcare mobile and web-based App that aims to put medical consultation and other health promoting services and products in the user’s hand. The App and web-based platform is accessible via any Internet enabled mobile device- telemedicine. It serves to provide its users direct text and audio visual access via their mobile device to general practitioners (GPs) and specialist doctors and allied health professionals, testing and treatment sign-posting and a range of other valuable health boosting services and products. Eweka in this interview with DANIEL ANAZIA explained why his company is bringing the App to Nigeria and ultimately the African continent.

What is IDHS.HealthWise all about?
IDHS.HealthWise is a digital platform that enables people get access to a pool of doctors around the world and locally from where they sit — from their phones, computers — they can get internet access. It is an integrated healthcare mobile and web-based App that aims to put medical consultation and other health promoting services and products in the user’s hand. We kind of call it the Uber of healthcare. The App is trademarked and protected by its parent company, IDHS, a company registered in the United Kingdom (UK) and other countries around the world including Nigeria with registration number 1356097. Our highly qualified GPs provide diagnoses, recommend treatment and if necessary, prescribe medication for a wide range of common medical and mental health conditions quickly and effectively through a video consultation.

In this part of the world, many believe and still assume that one-on-one interface with a doctor is very important, especially for examination. How does IDHS fit in?
Basically, like I said it is a telemedicine platform. All you need do, as a user of the platform is type in your health condition (how you are feeling) and the doctor will tell you what is wrong. A doctor can see you face-to-face via the Internet – Skype, Whatsapp and other formats of video call. Research shows that most patients do not necessarily need a one-on-one interface with the doctor. From our research, six out of 10 medical complaints, which are presented in primary care to General Practitioners, can be managed without recourse to visiting a hospital. Our research also showed that people waste time going to hospitals and emergencies. So, it is this premise that we decided and come up with this platform as the easy way for people to get access to medical attention rather than having to leave their home or offices and mix the rest of the day at work, queuing at the hospital to see a doctor, whilst they can have access to the doctor face-to-face from where they sit. The advantage this provides is that is convenient; saves time and energy.

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Since this is the first of its kind in this part of the world, how convinced are you that it will be a good sell in Nigeria?
Right now, technology is taking over everything. The future is technology; there is nothing that is done now with the input of technology. To get quality healthcare in Nigeria and Africa generally is difficult. People are not taking their healthcare serious in this part of the world. People go to hospital when it is too late; people go to hospital when their cancer is at stage four. But with IDHS.HealthWise, you are in the comfort of your home accessing a doctor, who at the same is examining your via our platform. People are stressed when they leave their home to go the hospital. The bottlenecks at the hospital are enough to make them fagged out. The technology allows you reach a very highly qualified doctor in the comfort of your home or office. This initiate will help eradicate some of the serious issues that happens in the past with individuals when the get to hospital too late. Everything is done speedily now, particularly with advent of technology. People no longer want to waste time in doing things or getting things done. So IDHS.HealthWise fits in with making things better for Africans and for Nigerians, where we are starting at the moment. Our platform offers a whole lot, from value adding features like mental health support-to-support and advisory services for pregnant women, fertility support and birth control advisory services, symptom checker and self-care for those who are affected by long-term illness like hypertension, diabetes, cancer and others. The average Nigerian has struggled long enough with accessing high quality, affordable healthcare. Prompt access to qualified local and international medical practitioners would greatly benefit our people and ensure improved health outcomes.

You said people often get to the hospital very late, especially when they have issues and want to see a doctor. To come up with this initiative, you have experimented it as medical practitioner?
I have a medical doctor partner, Dr Elizabeth Eweka-Adeshina, currently in London. She is the chief executive officer of IDHS.HealthWise. We came together and looked at this situation. The healthcare situation in Nigeria is in crisis. Too many people are losing their lives unnecessarily. So between her been in the medical field, the research she had done in the past and my knowledge and experiences of business as well as health of people in Africa, I realized that this has to be done. This is the way forward and the future.

Can the platform handle emergency?
No, IDHS.HealthWise is not designed for crisis or emergency situations but we can offer advice during such situations. In a crisis or in an emergency situation, call your local emergency number or go directly to your nearest hospital.

How do you assemble this pool of doctors?
We have a system were we hire the doctors and we have hundreds of them on the platform in the United States, London, UAE among others. We verify them to make sure they are qualified and still registered. So no body can be on the platform as a doctor without being registered. We have a back end structure of workers that do all the vetting and put the doctors on the platform so that our subscribers can access them.

Going by what you have just said, it means there is and must be exchange of payment for services rendered. How do pay these doctors since they are not particularly located in one hospital?
Everybody that sees a doctor on the platform pays a certain amount. Corporate companies, for example The Guardian could put all their employees on IDHS HealthWise platform by paying certain amount of money. It could be annually, half year, quarterly or monthly.  For each segment used, there is a payment, which is very reasonable when compared to what is obtainable with regards to this kind of service.

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How is an individual expected to pay if he or she wants to access the platform?
It ranges from N6,000 to N7,000. This could be per annum, quarterly or monthly. It depends on how the company or individuals want it. For instance, if you and your family want to access the platform, we draw a package for you that suit you best. And like I said earlier, it could be monthly, quarterly of annually.  We have our office at the Oriental, Victoria Island. Once the package is drawn up and you complete the necessary documentation, you can then logon to the platform and you get started.  We have partnership with a lot of pharmacy, Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs). So, wherever you are we have a pharmacy that can deliver your medication to you right at your doorstep at a very good time rather you wasting your time and energy going to see a pharmacist. On the alternative, we can give a prescription and you can go to the pharmacy on your way home.

How do you intend to drive this initiative to the grassroots, as research have shown that bulk of the people that often have challenge of accessing a medical doctor on time are those in the rural areas?
Very good, basically, we are partnering with major players in the health sector such as the Federal Ministry of Health, to make our services readily available and affordable at all functional Primary Health Centre (PHC) nationwide. The Ministry of Health has seen the project and they loved it. They pledged to be involved in it by giving us recommendation and approval, which is in process and happening as we speak. For the grassroots, we are going to set up little camps with people and laptops, where those in the hinterland can come and have access to a doctor rather going to the hospital that is not is not in sight or miles away to see the doctor. Our team will train these people and they will guide those people in the interior place and cannot use the technology, teach them what they need to do in the local dialect. The basic idea of this little camps is to take away from people the stress of going far to see a doctor when such can be done within the confine of their home. The service is limited to high-class people, it is for everybody and it is feasible for everybody to see.


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