New South African App Lets You Consult Doctors from Your Smartphone

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Kena Health, a new South Africa-based health app has been launched where anyone can chat to a nurse, doctor, or mental health professional directly from their smartphone.

Kena Health is an app that connects users to a team of qualified healthcare practitioners for advice, diagnoses, prescriptions, sick notes, and even referrals to a specialist pathologist or other places of care, as needed. This is all done through their smartphone – at a low cost.

Sooner or later, everyone gets sick. But what happens when that everyday quality care and advice is beyond their means? What happens to those who don’t have the time to wait in a clinic queue or don’t have the money to settle a doctor’s bill?

The all-too-common answer is that people delay medical care, or resort to inadequate home remedies or “Doctor Google” for advice. What if there was a better, more inclusive way to offer access to quality healthcare that is both fast and affordable?

Although the country is progressively realising the Constitutional right to healthcare, the fact is that a mere 16% of the South African population has access to private medical schemes. According to Kena Health, “therein lies our burden and our opportunity.”

Making Quality Healthcare Accessible to All

Kena Health uses a team-based approach that allocates the most suitable healthcare practitioners to each patient’s unique needs, based on a shared data view of that patient. Family planning advice, gastritis, anaemia, allergies, UTIs, and common colds can be treated by an experienced and qualified nurse. Perhaps an infection, hypertension, or other chronic conditions need a prescription from a doctor.

Users download the app and register in under two minutes. From there they chat briefly with Linda, Kena’s digital assistant, who collects general information about their condition that forms part of the secure patient record. This means patients do not have to repeat their medical information and background throughout every step of the process.

Kena Health Pricing and Features

Kena then connects the user directly to a nurse or mental health professional to receive the medical care or advice they need at a fraction of what it would cost to visit a doctor – and for free at the outset. Consultations can be conducted via text, voice or video within the app, all tailored to keep data costs manageable. In instances where a doctor is required, the nurses can transfer the call for a seamless connection within the Kena team.

By leveraging technology and a team-based approach, the app brings down the cost of care while improving the patient’s health outcomes. The app further leverages technology in the service of a human solution by generating scripts, sick notes, and even referral letters, all seamlessly provided within the app.

As users get used to this new kind of healthcare, their first three consultations will be free, with subsequent consultations costing as little as R160 each. Kena Health’s services are initially available from 8 am to 6 pm every weekday, and 8 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.

“Our goal is to improve access to quality care by lowering cost,” says Kena Health Founder and CEO Saul Kornik.

“By creating an app that focuses on team-based healthcare, we’re able to do this, while actually improving the quality of health outcomes for each patient. Imagine, a whole team of nurses, doctors, and mental health professionals looking after you! This means that no matter your income level or where you live, with Kena Health you are invited in to receive services that provide the care you need, all while making you feel cared for and reassured that you’re going to be OK,” he concludes.


Edited by Zintle Nkohla

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