Entrepreneur

45 Mins Could Mean Life Or Death, So Now There're On-Demand Ambulances In M'sia

Thanks to on-demand healthcare, a variety of medical services have been made easily accessible.

We’ve covered delivering medicine to your doorstep to getting video consultations from doctors. But the most crucial service is the one involving life or death which is the ability to request for ambulances on-demand.

Since they announced their collaboration with Microsoft earlier this year, Doctor2U is taking another step in modernising the health industry.

A local online platform for on-demand healthcare services, Doctor2U have now expanded their roster to include a feature that lets users request for an ambulance on-demand, the first in Malaysia to offer this through an app.

Their recent partnership with Microsoft allowed this new feature to be released quicker as Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform is helping to power it.

“We’re using Azure’s SignalR websocket framework to allow customers to view the real-time location of their ambulance and see an estimated arrival time,” said Keegan Flynn, Co-Founder of the company.

Doctor2U has partnered with Falck First Ambulance with a total of 20 ambulances allocated.

The feature will also make use of Falck’s retainer agreements with top private hospitals including Pantai, Gleneagles and Prince Court to provide ambulatory services for them.

The Uber of Ambulances

Image Credit: Doctor2U

The process of using it is quite simple:

  • Boot up the Doctor2U app and choose the ambulance option.
  • Key in the patient’s pick up location and the hospital to head to.
  • Fill in the patient’s details.
  • The app will then locate the nearest ambulance to the patient.
  • Details on price, location and distance will be shown before the payment method is chosen to confirm the booking.
  • A map showing the real-time location of the ambulance will be displayed for tracking.

The fares shown are based on distance and time:

  • Day time (8am-8pm) with a distance of either below or above 35km.
  • Night time (8pm-8am) with a distance of either below or above 35km.

On average, the fares roughly range from RM300 to RM650.

Depending on the patient’s condition, Doctor2U offers three type of ambulance services: patient transport service, basic life support (BLS), and advanced life support (ALS).

Although the app will display a list of the nearest hospitals to the patient’s location, the user still has the option to choose from that list or search a particular hospital of their choice.

The ambulance feature will be available for those in Klang Valley and Kota Kinabalu first before Doctor2U and Falck roll out this service to Penang, Melaka, and Johor Bahru.

The next country beyond Malaysia to receive this will be the Philippines.

Since Malaysian roads can be unpredictable with traffic and weather conditions, the feature does not provide any time guarantee but Doctor2U estimates the response time will be twice as fast compared to the standard 999 calls.

“The app will automatically direct the nearest Falck ambulance via Waze to the user’s location and then to the requested hospital drop off location.”

“Falck also keeps its ambulances in designated “hot spots” throughout Klang Valley where ambulance requests tend to be most frequent,” said Keegan.

To protect the time and resources of Falck, users are allowed to cancel while the request for an ambulance is being processed. However, once payment has been made and the ambulance is on its way, the user will still be charged even if they cancel.

The feature will focus on on-demand requests for now but Doctor2U mentioned plans of adding a booking element in the future.

But We Already Have The 999 Hotline, Why Is This Necessary?

Here are some of processes and challenges when it comes to calling an ambulance in Malaysia.

  • Malaysian ambulances take an average time of 45 minutes to arrive due to the manual process.
  • Users call 999 to tell the operator of the patient’s symptoms and location over the phone.
  • The operator then dispatches the request to ambulance providers with no real-time info on the ambulance locations so determining which is closest is difficult.
  • The operator needs to manually inform ambulances of the patient’s location, often leading to human error (writing down wrong addresses, ambulances going to wrong locations, etc).
  • Patients and loved ones are unaware of the location and arrival time of the ambulance.
Quote from Keegan.

Doctor2U believes uberising the process could reduce delayed ambulances through the usage of mobile tech. They hope to improve response times and their partnership with Falck provides quality equipment and medical personnel to lessen human error.

Why Can’t I Just Call A Doctor To Do A House Visit?

30% of Doctor Home Visit cases under Doctor2U have doctors attending home visits and deciding that the patient needs to be admitted to the hospital.

Since home visits are only for non-emergency cases, doctors are sometimes hesitant in accepting these requests as they do not wish to be responsible or liable, which is a concern for the Doctor2U team.

The ambulance feature helps when doctors are attending cases which require the patients to be admitted to the hospital immediately. Doctors can request on behalf of the patient and accompany them till they’re properly handed over to the hospital.

Quote from Keegan.

This feature isn’t actually new in the international medical scene, with countries like USA and India pioneering the movement, where it has been received well.

It’s good to see it now available for Malaysians. Perhaps this could be the gamechanger that solves the problems of deaths caused due to incompetency, lack of equipment or human error when it comes to ambulances.

Now all Malaysians have to do is to give way when they see an ambulance on the road.

You can download the Doctor2U app for iOS and Android here.

Feature Image Credit: Doctor2U

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