DoctHERS: Remote Healthcare Services by Female Doctors

Are you a female doctor that had to marry after your graduation and so never got a chance to practice your knowledge? Did you think about getting a job but your homely duties never gave you the time to professionally pursue your dreams? Do you think your medical education got wasted? Well, not anymore. Now you can help patients throughout Pakistan while sitting in your room. All you need is a laptop and you are finally a doctor again.

doctHERs is a healthcare marketplace that connects female doctors to millions of unprivileged patients in real-time through the use of online technology. It is available to patients in both rural and urban areas. It creates employment opportunities for many women and makes quality healthcare accessible for many patients.

The nurses are available at various time slots to examine the patients & then the details are communicated to the assigned female doctor. All the treatment procedure is carried out by the nurse under the virtual supervision of the doctHER. It clinics are equipped with various diagnostic tools, treatment facilities and medical professionals.

The clinic charges a minimum of Rs. 100 to a maximum of Rs. 1,200 per patient and offers virtual clinic consultation too. 50% of the revenue goes to the doctHER network, and 25% goes to the nurses and other community health workers. 15% is used to cover operational costs, so the remaining 10% is yielded as a profit. The organization also gives free healthcare services to those who cannot afford to pay for it.

doctHERs launched its first clinic in Model Colony in May 2015 that consisted of a pharmacy, a family planning lab and a lab collection. The clinic has treated more than 3,500 patients to date for various issues like diabetes, eye and skin conditions. Patients have also come to seek ultrasounds. doctHERs collaborated with a Community Organization called Sustainable Initiative (SI) to launch its second Clinic in September 2015 at Karachi’s Hijrat Colony. doctHERs empowered a local nurse in the community by upgrading her home into a telemedicine center.

In October 2015, doctHERs went on to launch its third clinic in Mansehra at KBDO organization and Hospital. This hospital lacked female doctors. Two months later in December 2015, doctHERs launched its fourth clinic in a slum area, namely Ilyas Goth. doctHERs has launched a campaign called ‘MidWives assist doctHERs’ that hires midwives and nurses in assessing patients at points-of-care (PoC) set up at its clinics.

The organization is targeting three different customer segments. The first segment includes the female doctors who are not practicing medicine due to social pressures or family constraints. The second is the medical workers affiliated with corporations or corporate value chains. The third is the low-income, marginalized communities in urban slums and rural areas who otherwise are unable to access to affordable and quality healthcare.

doctHERs accesses urban and rural patients through mobile and internet enabled technologies and video-conferencing. It also uses ‘point-of-care’ diagnostic tools with the support of community health workers to treat these patients, and also employs mobile banking technology to provide a digital payment solution to users.

This is what the founder of doctHERs, Sara Khurram, had to say about her startup:

This is a conundrum that many female doctors in Pakistan face. A staggering 80% of all medical school graduates in Pakistan are women; yet, only 25% put their education to practice due to socio-cultural constraints. Additionally, 95% of women living in poverty cannot access affordable care and qualified doctors. And so, I asked myself, what if we bridge the gap between female doctors culturally constrained to work and marginalised women who lack healthcare?

What an interesting idea and what an interesting time for it to gain momentum.

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