Free online COVID-19 screening and consultations available to all South Africans through Discovery and Vodacom partnership

01 April 2020 Discovery

Discovery and Vodacom have partnered to deliver a simple but powerful online healthcare platform for the benefit of all South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discovery and Vodacom have partnered to deliver a simple but powerful online healthcare platform for the benefit of all South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform provides easy access for all South Africans to a COVID-19 risk tool, to help understand your personal risk for COVID-19 plus, where needed, to immediately schedule healthcare professional consultations and get advice.

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 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 can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to hospital. This reduces overcrowding at clinics and doctors’ rooms where there is greater risk of the virus spreading, and also protects healthcare professionals from potential repeated exposure to COVID-19. The online healthcare platform makes it possible for South Africans to access a healthcare professional without them having to travel to a healthcare facility. It is simple, free to use and available on any web or mobile phone facilitating a full consultation with a doctor either through video or audio calls or by text. The service can be accessed by visiting either the Discovery or Vodacom websites, and Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.

Discovery and Vodacom are focused on applying global learnings around effectively managing the COVID-19 pandemic through digital healthcare tools including virtual 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.

Adrian Gore, Chief Executive Discovery Group, says: “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.”

Vodacom Group Chief Executive Officer, Shameel Joosub comments: “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; Shameel Joosub, Chief Executive Officer of Vodacom Group; Dr Ryan Noach, CEO of Discovery Health and Mariam Cassim, Chief Officer of Vodacom Financial Services, explain the importance of this partnership and how the platform works in this video.

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. This partnered 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.

There are seven easy steps to use an online doctor consultation:

1. Start the process by visiting Discovery’s COVID-19 information hub or Vodacom’s website. Members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme can access the service through the Discovery app. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.
2. Utilise the COVID-19 self-screening risk assessment tool, by answering a few easy questions.
3. If you are confirmed at high risk of having COVID-19, a short registration and consent process on the DrConnect app will follow.
4. Book a virtual consultation with a doctor who is available to assess the need for COVID-19 testing.
5. If the doctor recommends testing, a photo of the completed pathology form will be sent to the patient by SMS, WhatsApp or email. The same process will apply to scripts for medicine.
6. Testing and collecting of medicine will be facilitated by the relevant essential healthcare service providers that patients have to visit.
7. Doctors will receive test results electronically and can then advise if the patient should schedule follow-up appointments to discuss results and next steps.

Discovery Health Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ryan Noach, explains 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.”

Mariam Cassim, Chief Officer of Vodacom Financial Services, adds: “It’s always been part of the Vodacom Financial Services strategy to deliver innovative and disruptive 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 Discovery COVID-19 information hub contains tutorials on how to use the service and a range of other up-to-date information for consumers and doctors 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 while we follow the requirements of safe physical distancing and staying at home.

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