Vodacom and Discovery have launched an online platform that allows South Africans to screen themselves for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
When needed, users can schedule virtual healthcare professional consultations and get advice.
The initiative uses Discovery’s existing “DrConnect” platform, which was previously exclusive to Discovery clients but is now available to all South Africans.
The two companies have also launched a joint fund to pay doctors for about 100,000 consultations – making these consultations free to users.
“As South Africa unites to contain the spread of COVID-19, we remain committed to supporting society and our government during this unprecedented time,” said Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.
“Our partnership with Discovery can go a long way in alleviating any increased pressure on healthcare practitioners while at the same time empowering citizens by connecting them to doctors.”
Discovery CEO Adrian Gore said the company was proud to be partnering with Vodacom on this initiative.
“Discovery has been built on a very simple but powerful core purpose: making people healthier. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that purpose is very simple – we need to keep South Africans out of harm’s way.”
“We are very hopeful that this initiative will make a huge impact on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa – for the good of all our citizens,” Gore said.
How it works
This online healthcare platform is dedicated to COVID-19-specific screening and consultations, and all doctors are invited to download the Discovery HealthID and DrConnect apps from relevant app stores to join the platform, the companies said.
Doctors will receive guidance on how to consult and how to receive payment from the dedicated fund that Discovery and Vodacom have set up for these consultations.
The companies also outlined a seven-step process to use an online doctor consultation:
- Start the process by visiting Discovery’s COVID-19 information hub or Vodacom’s website. Discovery Health members can access the service through the Discovery app. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.
- Use the COVID-19 self-screening risk assessment tool by answering a few easy questions.
- If you are found to be at high risk of having COVID-19, a short registration and consent process on the DrConnect app will follow.
- Book a virtual consultation with a doctor who is available to assess the need for COVID-19 testing.
- If the doctor recommends testing, a photo of the completed pathology form will be sent to you by SMS, WhatsApp, or email. The same process will apply to scripts for medicine.
- Testing and collecting of medicine will be facilitated by the relevant essential healthcare service providers that you will be instructed to visit.
- Doctors will receive test results electronically and can then advise if you should schedule follow-up appointments to discuss results and next steps.
“Importantly, this initiative means we’re able to protect doctors from continued exposure to COVID-19 and hopefully make their jobs much safer as they deliver this invaluable care,” said Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach.