Recognised as one of Fortunes’ 40 under 40 leaders in Healthcare for 2020, Amir Barsoum, CEO & Co-founder, Vezeeta, aims to empower consumers to make more informed healthcare decisions. With the digital healthcare booking platform, he has redefined the future of healthcare in the MENA with cutting-edge digital solutions.
Vezeeta has a network of 21,000 locally licensed doctors across 41 medical specialities and operates across six countries – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Nigeria, Jordan and Lebanon. Its digital healthcare product portfolio includes online booking for doctors’ appointments, teleconsultations, doctors’ home visits, and online ordering and delivery of medications.
In an interview with Omnia Health Magazine, Barsoum said: “Vezeeta was started in late 2012 when we realised how isolated healthcare providers were and how everybody was operating in a silo. Due to this, patients were suffering from a lack of data transparency and connection between healthcare providers. We came up with the vision of connecting different players together and offering this platform to the patients so that they could access healthcare easily. The first product that we launched after conducting different trials was helping patients access face-to-face doctor consultations. That has expanded with time to more products that are especially relevant today.”
Responding to COVID-19
By constantly innovating the digital healthcare roadmap to serve over six million patients across six countries during a pandemic, the CEO has guided Vezeeta’s success by enabling quality healthcare to the millions of underserved communities by optimising artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools to make the patients’ healthcare journey easier.
COVID-19 caused a major shift in the way healthcare is accessed. Since people were homebound due to the pandemic, Vezeeta introduced three initiatives to serve its community better. First was teleconsultation, while the second was home visits where the platform helped doctors and nurses visit the patients at home. The third initiative was the online pharmacy, which was introduced in certain areas in Cairo, and has been growing well, shared Barsoum.
“Instead of taking patients to providers, we helped them give the care that they need from the comfort of their homes, or, in some cases, helped bring the providers to their doorstep,” he added.
While COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of telemedicine, it remains to be seen whether patients will continue using these technologies or if it would fade away once things normalise, he stressed.
Barsoum said that at Vezeeta, AI and machine learning are being used to improve current processes. For instance, the company has adopted machine learning in the pharmacy space. So, when a patient takes a copy or photo of the prescription, the app automatically converts that into data. “This improves the quality of healthcare, and eliminates or reduces the human error,” he highlighted.
Moreover, machine learning is helping to create patient-provider matchmaking. Barsoum explained that this introduces patients, based on the profiling in their system, with a doctor who would be more relevant to the patient, in terms of carrying out follow up visits, etc. “Machine learning is here to stay in healthcare,” he said. “It’s an industry that’s full of data, that is super sensitive. I think machine learning could do a lot there. But most probably, it would jump into the spaces where you would need to improve what’s already been done.”
He concluded: “We are going to continue to cement our presence in existing markets and expand our offerings. But in the near future, our goal is to launch new products and are also looking to enter the UAE and Pakistan markets.”