KARACHI: Patients need not worry about long waits to make appointments at the doctors anymore, as an online platform has been developed to act as a bridge between doctors and patients.
Through an application called ‘Marham’ patients can locate nearby doctors available round the clock and can obtain appointments by booking online with a click or utilise the online forum for queries, medical assistance or getting a second opinion from international doctors.
Apart from the application, Marham also has a Facebook forum, which serves as a parent platform of the online application. The forum operates on the basis of 'community helping community' and helps patients by creating a forum where queries can be answered by doctors and other community members.
Chief executive officer and co-founder of Marham, Ehsan Imam said that through their platform more than 400 to 500 appointments are booked in 15 different cities per day, whereas 200 to 300 queries are being asked on Facebook, with between 1,000 and 2,000 people using the application per day. According to him, more than one million patients, and doctors have benefitted from Marham since it was created in January, 2016.
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Imam told The Express Tribune that the idea for the application came to him when his own father was seriously ill and his family faced difficulties locating good consultants and making appointments.
"The patients got information through word of mouth only and there was no proper mechanism available to obtain information since there were lots of problems faced during that painful time," he explained.
According to Imam, they first made a Facebook forum, which started to grow and progressed well. It now has more than 50,000 active members. People started asking questions about health issues and doctors started responding.
He added that it paved the way for the online application and the creation of a database of more than 10,000 doctors, all verified by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, in 15 different cities, with 18 different specialities.
We are now collecting data in comparatively smaller cities and take doctors from those cities on board and have also started helping makings and doctors book appointments there, said Imam.
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He said added that through the creation of the application, the scarcity of doctors and delay in obtaining appointments has been addressed. "The traffic for a few doctors is in the hundreds whereas other foreign qualified and young doctors have no patients, so through this application we have been trying to divert patients to those doctors to reduce the long queue of up to five months," he explained.
According to Imam, they have been also trying to promote medical tourism, which is currently on the rise in the neighbouring country of India, due to its low medical expenses in the provision of healthcare facilities.