Digital Pakistan: Enhancing country’s response to pandemics
Digital Pakistan had already created different channels to connect with citizens to capture their vital health-related information and perform a risk assessment. But they did not have a platform to onboard volunteer doctors and link them with citizens at risk for screening and medical guidance purposes.
VentureDive provided a robust national health security platform for all hazards and pandemics, offering strategic support and mechanism for interdepartmental communication. This helped them identify capacity, readiness, resources and mitigation strategy to scale up the country’s response to pandemics.
Breaking down barriers for more connected healthcare
On Pakistan Day 2020, VentureDive announced that it was extending its services, free of cost, to governments, agencies, and healthcare institutions.
Offering their complete spectrum of tech expertise within the IT Industry, they wanted to assist in medical research and disaster response related projects to COVID-19.
After reviewing multiple brilliant projects and ideas, VentureDive selected the one that they believed would have the biggest impact for Pakistan and its people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Telehealth project spearheaded by Digital Pakistan. The latter is a government initiative launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan, aimed at using technology for public welfare.
The COVID-19 pandemic left Pakistan in a precarious situation, just like many other countries in the world. The country was battling the pandemic on different frontiers to flatten the curve. And they wanted to avoid the total collapse of its healthcare system.
The threat posed by COVID-19 was amplified by the variation of its symptoms that can easily be confused with other diseases such as the flu.
Though healthcare leaders around the world had attempted to educate the public about the novel coronavirus, there was still a large proportion of the public, particularly in a country like Pakistan, who were unaware and lacked access to healthcare expertise.
With regards to the first step, Digital Pakistan launched the world’s first free of cost telehealth service through WhatsApp. The initiative did a partnership with Digital Pakistan and the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination (NHSRC).
It helped people to connect with domestic and overseas doctors on WhatsApp to address COVID-19 health concerns.
creating the opportunity
Creating an ultimate digital response for future outbreaks in Pakistan
With the first step complete, Digital Pakistan took VentureDive up on their offer and asked them for assistance for the next two steps. They wanted a system where volunteer doctors could sign up for the telehealth program.
Doctors were required to complete their registration by following the steps of OTP verification sent at mobile number and submitting their required documents. Verified doctors could then interact with citizens who had previously submitted their data through the WhatsApp chatbot.
Doctors could call their assigned patients using a masked number to analyze patient symptoms and provide the outcome of the referral.
The proposed solution provides not only an efficient mechanism to ensure a timely and efficient response in the current COVID-19 outbreak but also a robust response structure by providing opportunities to national/international volunteers to contribute in such a critical time.
Not to mention that the system would provide an optimal and effective response capacity for any future outbreaks in Pakistan.
With a total delivery timeline of two weeks (10 working days), VentureDive raced against the clock to complete the solution.
creating the opportunity
Making healthcare more accessible with an efficient solution
VentureDive’s efforts resulted in accessible healthcare for people for whom it is difficult to travel or leave their homes due to the pandemic or any other reason.
Here’s what Tania Aidrus and Dr. Zafar Mirza, special assistants to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, had to say about the impact of our collaboration with Digital Pakistan:
“There are less than 150,000 doctors for our 210 million population. The common people sometimes have to take a whole day out to travel from their village to a city to consult a doctor. When the Corona crisis happened, the Prime Minister advised us to use technology to address the problems. We wanted to reduce the burden and risk on our healthcare facilities and our doctors,” said Tania Aidrus, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Digital Pakistan.
“Keeping this situation in mind, we built our solution with WhatsApp so Pakistanis would not have to learn a new app or website. They can simply message the WhatsApp number and receive a call from the doctor.” Tania further said.
“Our doctors and healthcare professionals on the frontlines are doing and have already done so much. One outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to scale up digital health solutions. This Telehealth portal allows those doctors who are at home, or overseas Pakistani health professionals, to come to their support and lessen the burden,” added Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health.
Doctors who want to give back during Ramzan: consider volunteering your time by signing up to provide #Covid_19 consultations at http://telehealth.gov.pk