Patients in Rwanda can now use their phones to send a text message and book an appointment with a doctor in just five minutes.
The new mobile phone application “Easy Access” developed by Dr.Horatius Munyampundu – a Rwandan medical doctor helps patients send a SMS to medical doctors and get a feedback within five minutes.
Dr. Munyampundu a public health specialist that has served at several referral hospitals across the country was concerned by the high cost of time and money patients spend trying to secure an appointment but go back home without meeting the doctor.
However, with the “Easy Access” application, patients can interact with the doctor by SMS and get a response in five minutes and would only physically come to meet the doctor for treatment.
Patients are required to subscribe and download the application on their phones. To begin using the application only available to MTN subscribers, one has to dial *722# and press ‘yes’ button and follow instructions.
From the menu one can select a language and then choose the hospital and department where he/she wants a service from.
The receiver is an agent of Easy Access owned by HCM company established at partner hospitals.
Upon receiving the message, the agent meets a doctor on behalf of the patient. The doctor indicates his availability before the agent sends a feedback to the patient.
The patient receives a feedback within five minutes. However, Munyampundu says in case of an emergency which would push the doctor to postpone the appointment, the same agent informs the applicant through the same platform.
Since the last three weeks, the system is working at King Faisal Hospital, University Teaching Hospital (CHUK) and La Croix du Sud at no cost.
By the end of October, the charges will start to apply where sending a message will be charged Rwf 1000.
To the patients, the system will save both time and money whereas to doctors, it will enable them to give quick service.
“I thought of an easy way that can help both the patients and doctors,” he said.
Reports by Rwanda’s Ministry of Health indicate that one physician serves 15,000 people.
Rwanda has put ICT at the center stage of its development-with many projects underway to turn the country into an ICT hub in the region.