App gives patients easy access to doctors

Top News | Erin Chan 30 Jul 2020

Patients will have an easier way to consult doctors online - through a new telemedicine mobile app that launches on Monday.

DrGo is a joint effort by the private Gleneagles Hospital and Hong Kong Telecom, which allows patients to register before arranging a video consultation with a doctor from the hospital at a scheduled time.

After the in-app consultation, the prescribed medicine, medical certificate and medical referral letter and receipt will be delivered to the patients' address within four hours.

Meanwhile, patients are able to access the doctor's diagnosis and audio prescribed medicine instruction in the app anytime.

The service will cost between HK$398 and HK$450, including consultation, prescription of medicine for up to three days and a one-time delivery service.

Service hours for the app are 9am to 8pm from Monday to Friday.

But from the end of next month, the service hours will be extended to 8am to 8pm from Monday to Sunday, including public holidays.

Ringo Ng Wing-ho, managing director of HKT's consumer group, said the app provides patients with simpler access to medical consultations.

Ng said HKT carried out a survey in January asking respondents what they usually did when they got sick.

"Seventy percent of them said they would rest, increase their intake of vitamin C and drink more water instead of going to the doctor," said Ng. "Whereas 20 percent said they would buy medicine from chemists or take left-over medicine."

He said the app can avoid the hassles of making physical visits to hospitals or clinics, allowing patients to speak to the doctor from their home or elsewhere. Ng added: "January this year had not yet seen the peak of local Covid-19 infections, but now it is the peak.

"The app can come in handy during the critical time of the pandemic, in which social distancing is important."

Susanna Hui Hon-hing, group managing director of HKT, said the app will partner with private hospitals and clinics in the initial stage, before extending to specialist consultations and possibly people living in elderly homes.

"Eventually, we hope to offer telemedicine to users of public hospitals," she said.

Hui said HKT is exploring business-to-business opportunities in health technology applications in hospitals, clinics and universities, such as telemedicine, remote mentoring and clinical training.

"HKT will also examine other opportunities in health tech such as health risk assessment, remote monitoring, chronic illnesses management, machine-to-machine communication and connected devices," Hui said.

Telemedicine has also been made available by the private hospital sector, including Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, which has provided video consultations for non-emergency patients and those in need of Covid-19 screening since April.

In April, Queen Elizabeth Hospital launched a pilot scheme of telemedicine to patients via cloud computing to reduce the risk of infections.


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