When Safaricom launched Daktari 1525 back in 2011 and later Airtel came with Call-a-Doctor also via the same 1525 number, I was wondering why anyone would want to spend an extra penny on online medical consultations yet Google is very free. I ignored them. Then two weeks ago I received a press release from Global Technologies announcing the launch of their new DaktariPopote mobile app for medical consultations and I decided to give the App a try – after all, as opposed to Safaricom’s Daktari 1525 or Airtel’s Call-a-Doctor platforms, I wouldn’t be required to speak to anyone. So I downloaded the DaktariPopote and tested it for five days – and I loved it.
Before I review the DaktariPopote App, let me first tell you why Google is not the to-go-to shop when it comes to medical consultations. Many a times when you fall sick you are likely to experience multiple symptoms e.g. a specific kind of headache accompanied by things like nausea, stomach upset, loss of appetite, nosebleeding, a pain in the leg, and some other hard to understand pain at the back of the neck. Putting all that information on Google search will likely lead you nowhere – and after painstakingly trying, through Google, to figure out what’s wrong with your health, at last you will find yourself heading to a nearby health facility – something that could have been avoided if Google hosted real doctors who actually understand your multiple symptoms.
Secondly, even when Google gets your symptoms right, you will be presented with millions of pages most of which have divergent information on the possible causes of your symptoms. Even when you manage to shift through the millions of web pages and settle on three or four reliable ones, each of those four pages will most of the time speculate on several diseases that could be causing your symptoms – and without a human doctor by your side, you will still not know which of those diseases to treat.
Thirdly, if you are lucky to get accurate information from Google on what might be ailing you, you still won’t know what prescriptions to go for.
Those setbacks means, at least as far as today is concerned (that is before AI become smart enough to replace doctors), that the physical doctors are still a necessity in our medical exprience- and that’s why Safaricom and Airtel launched their 1525 call a doctor services, but neither of the two gained traction, most probably because Safaricom charges a premium service fee of Kshs 20 per minute, and that even when the call has been reset to standard rate (Airtel strategy), people are still too lazy to call- and these are the setbacks that DaktariPopote intends to sort out.
Right now, DaktariPopote is an Android App that can be downloaded from Google Play store. When you search for DaktariPopote on the Play Store, there will be two DaktariPopote Apps. The first in the list will be the DaktariPopote-Doctor, and unless you are a doctor who intends to offer consultation services through the DaktariPopote platform, you will ignore that App. The App that you will download and install on your Android device will be the DaktariPopote-Consult Doctor App.
After downloading the App and installing it in your Android device, you will be required to register your details, which will include standard health questions like Age, Sex, Height, Weight, and full name. After the registration it will be time to make that payment.
Consulting doctors is never free – not via any physical health facility and definitely not via the DaktariPopote App. To talk to a doctor over the same medical condition for a period of five days, you will need to pay a fee of Kshs 300. The payment can be made through MPESA (MPESA direct or MPESA paybill number – I liked the MPESA direct option). After paying the shs 300, DaktariPopote App will allow you to post a description of your medical situation to the doctors in the platform, and within minutes a doctor will receive the query and respond to you almost immediately. After the doctor has written to you you will be allowed to hold a conversation, via instant chat messaging feature within the App, for a period of five days. This time should be sufficient for you to exhaustively ask the doctor all questions related to your medication condition. The App automatically disables you from talking to your doctor or any other doctor after the expiry of the five days. If you attempt to contact a doctor after your expiry period, you will be greeted by this message:
In addition to holding chats, DaktariPopote also allows you to share with your doctor files e.g. x-rays and images of your symptoms (if they are physical visible and thus can be photographed), and this way you can let the doctor fully understand your medical condition. Kachwanya.com was also informed of the upcoming video and call features that will allow pateint-doctor appointment through the App be both audible and visual.
Once the doctor is fully convinced that a particular ailment is affecting you, he/she will recommend prescriptions that you can buy from your local pharmacy, but if need be the doctor may refer you to a particular health facility either for lab procedures or to have further consultations with a specialist. Personally I was requested to undertake a CT Scan before I can continue with the consultations. It is important to note that DaktariPopote also has a few specialists namely Counsellors, Nutritionists, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Sexologists, and Urologists.
The doctors in DaktariPopote App are vetted by Global Technologies Ltd, the company that owns and operates DaktariPopote Apps – meaning Global Technologies have ascertained that they are licensed and practicing doctors who have valid licenses to practice. In the future however, DaktariPopote plans to hire in house doctors to ensure that patient-doctor consultations happen in real time. Today, since all the doctors are practicing in certain public or private hospitals, there can be delays in feedback but according to my five days experience, the delay is no more than four hours.
Other than DaktaripPopote App that is app based, there are USSD services that also offer online medical consultations, but these too have their limits that include:
- In the SMS-based services, the wordings are limited to 160 characters for each message while in DaktariPopote there is no limit in the message sent as it is WhatsApp.
- They don’t work across all mobile networks so you are limited to your mobile service provider
- They can’t be accessed via other Internet based devices like computers and simless tablets.
- They don’t allow file sharing for sending documents like X-Ray images.
- They only have general doctors whereas DAktariPopote has ensured that you can talk to specialists as mentioned above.
Now, for non-emergency medical conditions, all you need to do is talk to a doctor from the comfort of your home via the DaktariPopote App.