Doctor Raksa: Online Medical Care Wherever You Are
While we stock up on food and other essentials during a pandemic, don’t forget to plan on what to do in case of falling ill. Since hospitals are a breeding ground for germs, if we have to visit a doctor, how to do that without setting foot in a hospital?
Luckily, the technology is advanced enough that we can now see a doctor via our mobile phone. Doctor Raksa, a small startup run by a team of 18 staff, is growing fast in contrast with many businesses that are weakened by the current novel Corona virus or Covid-19 pandemic.
We have a chance to chat with Jaren Siew, the young Singaporean CEO who pioneers the Telemedicine technology in the form of Doctor Raksa application. Jaren will reveal his business perspective under the slogan “Call us when you’re sick and get treated”.
It has been four years since medical care applications have been developed to serve as a central online platform where doctors and patients can conveniently and quickly meet without having to travel to hospitals. “What we do is not new since many countries have already started doing it. It’s called Telemedicine.” This technology flourishes in mainland China as well as in the US, UK, Sweden, India and Indonesia. Jaren thus asked, “Why not doing it in Thailand?” since the country has a population of over 70 million and people spend a great deal on health. He reveals his view on the health care market in Thailand which sparks the birth of Doctor Raksa, “The Raksa application which our team has developed is co-invested by Bumrungrad Hospital. In addition to the doctors from Bumrungrad Hospital which forms the majority of our doctors, we also have doctors from other major hospitals such as Siriraj, Samitivej and Rama as well.” At present, the Raksa app has over 500 doctors available to provide consultation and 90% of which are specialists.
Raksa has provided 50,000 medical consultations and over 300,000 users have registered for its service. Jaren gives assurance that the doctors selected and interviewed by Raksa have over 8-10 years of experiences. Each doctor also gets high rating from users mostly from providing medical consults on the application.
Specialists available on Raksa application : Pediatrician / Gynaecologist / Internal Medicine / Urinary Tract / Orthopedic / Psychiatrist / Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist / Surgeon / Dermatologist / Ophthalmologist / Nervous System / Radiologist
**Moreover, Jaren and the Raksa team contribute in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand through their cooperation with Thailand Tech Startup Association (TTSA) and the Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health in providing information and screening. Through the “Ped Thai Soo Pai” (Thai duck fighting the pandemic) Facebook page, volunteer doctors team up to offer primary screening and consultation via Raksa app.
Convenient, Safe and Affordable
“After getting a consult, you’ll receive a secured online prescription via our app. For the convenience of our patients, you’ll be able to use this prescription to buy your medications on our app or at local pharmacies.” Jaren guarantees that his app offers lower medication price than typical pharmacies. Importantly, when you order from Raksa app, your medications will be delivered for free within one hour anywhere in Bangkok.
Everything is secured in Raksa system, be it patients’ or doctors’ information. Jeren gives an example of previous prescriptions; the information will be safely and conveniently kept in the system after many years. We can review our consultation record any time. For example, if you are a patient at Bumrungrad Hospital, Raksa can instantly pull your record from the hospital. Or if the doctor records your symptoms on the app, the data will be sent to Bumrungrad hospital as well. Jaren asks the users to rest assured that Raksa system is secured and prioritized on the effectiveness of patient care. The app is built on the most secured backend system and managed by his highly qualified team. Even the quality of the medications available on the app is guaranteed by Jaren’s pedigree as a medical student and pharmacist who truly understands the products he is selling.
Usually, a doctor’s visit at a hospital would take us almost a whole day but we actually get to see the doctor for only 5 minutes. That means we’re unnecessarily wasting time. Unless we’re emergency patients who must be rushed into an ICU, there’s no need for us to travel to the hospital and wait for hours for consultation. Jaren’s advice is, “If you want to talk with a doctor, you should get an online consult first without going to the hospital. That’s because the doctor can sometimes write you a prescription right away. You can just stay home and watch for symptoms.” Raksa comes in to reduce the need for travelling and waiting at the hospital. It helps us save time and travelling cost. “But if your symptoms worsen, that’s when you actually need to go to the hospital,” he adds.
Opportunity in Crisis
“The Singapore, US and even China governments encourage people to use telemedicine because they don’t want anyone to unnecessarily go to the hospital.” Jaren explains the benefits of telemedicine especially during the time when we must practice social distancing. That’s because even though we are not sick, if there is a Covid-19 patient at the hospital, we might easily contract it. The elderly and those with chronic medical conditions should take extra precautions as they are at particularly high risk. Jaren adds that, “Basically, we can diagnose elsewhere such as using telemedicine and the hospital can send an ambulance to pick up the patient so that they can be immediately separated from other patients.” But if we still go to the hospital, that means we risk ourselves more. Also, if our city is under a full lockdown, the only way we can conveniently get a consult is via telemedicine.
Improve Access to Medical Services
“In the next 5 years, I want to see 10 million users in Thailand,” that is the goal set by Raksa. Even though it’s still a long way to go, they are trying to get there by providing the most patient-centred services. Jaren dreams of building a good ecology of medical care in Thailand by working together with various hospitals, both public and private, as well as pharmacies.
“Appropriate price and effective”, that’s what he hopes for the Thai healthcare sector. He emphasizes that with the image of healthcare access for rural residents who must travel a long way for a doctor’s visit since 90% of specialists practice in the capital. “Provincial doctors would call the doctors in Bangkok via Raksa app and pay for the consult.” That’s what Jaren has noticed; even fellow doctors call each other for consultation. Therefore, Raksa serves as a channel for patients to easily get a consult via an application on mobile phone which we carry with us all the time.
What many patients face when going to the hospital is wasting time waiting to see a doctor. “The experience of patients’ visit to a hospital is rather bad. Therefore, Raksa prioritises on offering a good experience that is safe and affordable.” Another thing the team focuses on is marketing. “We’re investing in digital marketing, too. You might see our Facebook ads quite often. We hope that our message and telemedicine apps will become part of modern lifestyle. And I hope that this will become the “new normal” in the next five years.
Jaren tries to think about what he and his team can help, “We can enhance on medical devices so that they can work more effectively, maybe by applying artificial intelligence to assist the doctors to diagnose faster.” He elaborates that, if he is a doctor who has to treat 100 patients per day, access to such devices may allow him to treat 500 patients. AI-based devices are effective and systematic. They can also be applied to help develop the application’s prescription system. The team has also considered connecting Raksa with insurance companies, including the government’s universal healthcare coverage for Thais. Jaren gives an example, “If you are a regular patient at Ramathibodi Hospital, Raksa will help you consult the doctors there for free since the app knows your health coverage. And that’ll make patients happy.”
During this time of self-quarantine at home, if you are not feeling well either physically or mentally, try using Raksa app to reduce the risk of going to the hospital. It’ll also help alleviate the excessive workload on doctors and other caregivers while your worries on health issues will be eased by a real doctor all the same.
3 Steps to consult a doctor via Raksa
- Search for the doctor you want to consult. If the doctor’s status is online, you can get a consult right away. Or ring a bell if the doctor is offline and the app will notify you once they are online.
- Describe your symptoms. including for how long those symptoms persist so that the doctor can read your medical history.
- Wait for the doctor to respond within 3 minutes. After sending your symptoms, please wait for the doctor’s response within 3 minutes and the consult can begin right away. During the current crisis, Raksa offers a discount for users who wish to check whether their symptoms match Covid-19 by entering the code COVID19.
Story : Wanabud Yupakaset | Image : Peera Disttakorn