Our African business, Vodacom, has partnered with Discover Health, a medical aid provider to offer easy online access to COVID-19 screening and consultations for all South Africans.
Globally, telemedicine has proved invaluable in the management of this disease, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating for digital healthcare tools and virtual consults (such as EmergencyEye [in Germany) to be the first step and primary means of healthcare support during the COVID-19 outbreak. The COVID-19 risk assessment and virtual healthcare tools, developed through the Vodacom and Discovery partnership, can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to a hospital. The service is accessed by visiting either the Discovery or Vodacom websites.
Discovery Health Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ryan Noach explained that, “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.”
Through this partnership, Discovery’s existing DrConnect platform, which was previously available only to Discovery clients, is now accessible to all South Africans. Together, Vodacom and Discovery have also jointly created a fund to pay doctors for approximately 100,000 consultations, making them free to any South African.
Vodacom Group Chief Executive Officer, Shameel Joosub, commented: “As South Africa unites to contain the spread of COVID-19, we remain committed to supporting society and our government during this unprecedented time. 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. As a leading technology company, we are optimistic about the capabilities of digital connectivity to transform the lives of our communities. Through the online doctor consultation platform, anyone looking for COVID-19 related information will be connected to a network of doctors who will be readily available to answer their questions.”
Adrian Gore, Chief Executive Discovery Group, said: “We are proud to be partnering with Vodacom on this important and powerful initiative – bringing free online doctor consultations to all South Africans who need it for COVID-19. 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.”
As South Africa continues to closely monitor the incidence of COVID-19, this virtual healthcare platform will work alongside other initiatives to give all South Africans free access to reliable information, risk screening and, when necessary, free online medical consultations. The online healthcare platform is dedicated to COVID-19-specific screening and consultations. All doctors are invited to download the Discovery HealthID and DrConnect apps from relevant app stores to join the virtual healthcare platform. 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 specific consultations.
Mariam Cassim, Chief Executive Officer of Vodacom Financial Services, adds: “It’s always been part of the Vodacom Financial Services’ strategy to deliver innovative health solutions to our customers and the current COVID-19 crisis has called for us to move quicker than we had anticipated. Partnering with Discovery on this initiative is a great example of how two large corporates can use their core capabilities to make a real difference in the lives of all South Africans during this time. Vodacom’s extensive telco network will bring Discovery’s network of doctors to mobile devices all over the country.”
The Vodacom COVID-19 information hub contains other up-to-date information for consumers about COVID-19.
With virtual consultations, the location of the doctor or the location of the patient will not restrict access to fast and effective healthcare. With this service, all doctors can register to help care for the health of all South Africans whilst everyone follows the requirements of safe physical distancing and staying at home.