Increased access with uConsult™

Virtual appointments casting doors of access wide open.

Paying the doctor a visit is being revolutionised with the introduction of a multi-sided virtual consultation platform making private home-based care singularly accessible in South Africa. Here, Dr Johan Pretorius, Chief Executive Officer of Universal Healthcare, considers how uConsult™ – developed at the Universal office in Silicon Valley in the US – is unlike other virtual consultation platforms that have emerged in recent times.

As a tool, technology has become one of our greatest allies. Misapplied, however, it holds us back. In a healthcare context, this can perpetuate narrow legacy systems that no longer serve the best interests of those placing not only their trust but also their hopes in us, and prevent us from making important societal gains, such as enabling greater access to quality care.

Important in the development of uConsult™, therefore, was the removal of as many restrictions as possible, so as to allow patients to connect with healthcare providers no matter whether they have medical aid cover or not, or which medical scheme they may belong to. Allowing users access to the platform from anywhere in the world via their web browsers was equally necessary, so there is no need to download a restrictive medical scheme prescribed app only available to select groups.

Unlike other virtual consultation platforms, uConsult™ connects patients with healthcare providers using safe, scalable microservices technology making it accessible any time from any device, be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Real accessibility to quality healthcare is uConsult™’s ultimate objective.

The platform enables patients to video chat and screen share with their provider, and to receive encrypted prescriptions, pathology forms, radiology forms and specialist referral letters electronically. In many cases the user is therefore able to experience the full journey from consultation to having their medication delivered without ever leaving the comfort and safety of their home or office.

Users are able to search for healthcare providers on uConsult™ by name or geolocation and virtual consultations can take place no matter where the patient is based, locally or internationally. Patient and healthcare provider are additionally able to connect with other practitioners without having to switch between systems – a revolutionary development. Furthermore, the healthcare provider does not need to have any specific software installed to enable the uConsult™ functionality, increasing flexibility amongst the healthcare community.

The vision for this leading edge technology is rooted in the firm belief that anyone, anywhere should be able to access the best quality healthcare available. With uConsult™ we are one step closer to achieving this.