Doctors on the go? Why virtual medical consultations could be the next big thing


Food, clothes, furniture and even alcohol - one or two clicks on your phone and they can be at your door in a few minutes. Getting everything online is convenient and for those who don't like being out in public, it can save them from a lot of anxiety. One of things that have been harder to access, especially those who live in far flung areas, has been healthcare. Not for life or death situations, but for that pesky flu or strain.

You can now consult virtually with a network of health professionals who say health tech of tele health is the way to go. Dr Phatho Zondi, the COO of Unu Health says tele-health is nothing new, but Covid-19 made it an option for a lot of people.

“I understand many people are very sceptical and do not trust the process because they want to be touched by their doctor for a physical consultation. But just like how you stand one side of the counter and explain the symptoms to the pharmacist, this is the same concept. Except here, you are speaking the health professional through a phone or computer.”

Dr Zondi says their web-based app allows their members to have access to a wide network of professionals in four minutes. They focus on triage but will refer patients for physical consultations where necessary.


“One of our biggest focuses is the access to healthcare. This is private healthcare at an affordable rate. We focus on primary healthcare and our platform does not need members to have data to access it.

“It is a web-based app and it can be downloaded as a widget on smartphones. Our research has shown us that most people in our country do not have medical aid and that smartphone penetration is at 85% in South Africa, so we can reach members in different pockets of the country.

“Our target is the unserviced market that earns between R5 000 and R35 000, but do not have medical aid. Another thing that I think makes us a great alternative is that members are able to consult in any language of their choice. The initial medium of communication on the app is English, but as soon as you get in touch with one of our practitioners, then you can indicate which language you choose to consult in,” she says.

They plan to launch to general members of the public in the third quarter of the year. For now companies are using it and the public can be members through their companies.

“Currently, we service companies because we believe corporate South Africa has a responsibility to take care of its employees. They have a commercial and social responsibility. “In the third quarter of the year we will launch the app for the retail market.”