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This Vietnamese Start-up Connects Patients and Doctors Through an App

eDoctor lets you reach doctors through audio or video call and in app-messages

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 02 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The Vietnam-based eDoctor harkens back to the days when doctors visited patients in the comfort of their own homes. According to Do Son Ha, product manager of eDoctor, their mobile app enables patients to access healthcare information and connect with doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies.

Co-founders Dang Cong Nguyen and Vu Thanh Long created this platform after realizing that people living in the countryside often had to travel long distances to get medical attention in city centers. The travel time and distance was not only costly, but it often had negative implications on a patient’s health.

Nguyen experienced this problem first-hand through his father, who suffered from diabetes.

“Living in the suburbs far away from a hospital, Nguyen's father was unable to receive timely medical attention and his family members couldn't get important information on how to care for him. As a result, his father suffered from many diabetes-related ailments that could have otherwise been prevented with the proper medical attention,” Ha says.

eDoctor aims to eliminate cases like Nguyen’s. Through eDoctor, patients can connect with doctors through audio or video call and in app-messages. “People are also able to save and track their own health records, as well as records of family members and dependents with the proper consent,” Ha adds.

Ha says eDoctor is designed to help users reach good health, with the platform’s doctors ideally becoming their patients’ family doctors. The app has had many young parents consulting doctors about their child, so as to ensure he or she continues to grow healthy and well-nourished.

Of course, as there is only so much that can be done through a platform, even one as robust as eDoctor, many of their use cases are for O2O (online-to-offline) services, such as customers booking blood testing and health check-ups.

Preventive, rather than reactive, measure

As ideal as this solution may sound, eDoctor has encountered serious challenges on both sides of their marketplace. On the supply side, recruiting doctors who are the best in their respective fields has proved difficult. In response, the company launched a program called “doctors refer doctors” to help with recruitment.

On the user side, users - as with the case with any new technology - are unsure of exactly when to use eDoctor. The company says that while everyone should have a formal health check-up at least once or twice a year, they should consult with doctors over any health concerns, such as nutrition, exercise, and seasonal illnesses. In short, eDoctor is best used as a preventive, rather than a reactive, measure.

The company has mostly relied on Facebook ads for user acquisition, and this channel has been largely effective. “This brought us to more than 150k active users,” Ha says, adding that their next milestone goal is now 500,000 users.

eDoctor was recently accepted into Google’s Launchpad Accelerator program, which should serve the company well as their product roadmap gets even bolder and more encompassing. Ha says that one of their next goals is to produce eDoctor smart wearables to “update users’ health status in real time.”

Given eDoctor’s early success in Vietnam, it’s no wonder that many entrepreneurs are setting their sights on disrupting health-tech in Southeast Asia. Ha says that many customers are ready to pay for health-tech services, but it may be difficult for companies to customize services to suit their particular needs.

“The health-tech market is huge, but it’s only for the ones who are devoted to customers,” he says.