It all started with one person’s attempt to make an appointment with a doctor, which landed up in a 15-minute frustrating call over the phone. Instead of complaining about it, Fodhil Benturquia decided to be a part of the change. He founded Okadoc – a mobile application and online platform to book real appointments with a doctor of your choice in the UAE.
Now you don’t have to wait in line at a hospital or make a phone call in order to book an appointment with a specialist or a vet. Okadoc is leading the way for UAE doctors, hospitals and clinics to go digital.
Whether you need a doctor for a personal consultation, or you need an appointment for your family, friends or even a pet falcon, Okadoc has got you covered. The company is already operational in the UAE as is expected to expand into Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries soon.
The Okadoc journey
CEO and Founder of Okadoc Fodhil Benturquia began his first start-up at the age of 18. After a few years in investment banking at Societe Generale, he took a deep dive into the e-commerce industry. He was a founding member of regional e-commerce site MarkaVIP. He then revolutionized Souq.com as the general manager of Saudi operations by pioneering the “deal of the day”. He was among the first 25 employees at Souq.com before it grew into one of the largest e-commerce sites in the Middle East. His journey led him to becoming the Group CEO of Noon.com, where he reinvented customer experiences from a logistics, fulfillment, product and after-sales perspective.
Things seemed to be going smooth until that one fateful phone call.
“What struck me really is that in e-commerce, we don’t allow more than 20 seconds waiting time when a customer calls. We also measure how many calls have been answered within 10 seconds, 12 seconds and so on. For me to get an appointment with a doctor took me 15 minutes,” Fodhil Benturquia recalls.
Book a “real” appointment
Okadoc now offers people the ability to get in touch with more than 16,000 doctors in the UAE. Providing the opportunity to book “actual” appointments directly through its app at no extra charge to the patient, Okadoc stands out as the first instant doctor’s appointment booking portal.
“When I tried to find solutions online, I found that ‘online bookings’ were not actual online bookings. They were online booking ‘requests’, which was quite misleading. They make you fill a form and when you think you’ve booked an appointment, they call you back asking whether you want an appointment. They tell you that the form is only a “request” and not an actual booking, which can be frustrating,” Fodhil Benturquia said.
Okadoc gives you the opportunity to book appointments with doctors in the UAE. A simple sign up on Okadoc gives patients in the UAE access to more than 1,800 facilities, including more than 140 specialties.
Patients can book appointments in more than 85 languages on Okadoc, which makes it easy to reach out for medical help, whichever part of the world you are from. Whether you are visiting the UAE or are a resident here, Okadoc makes it a convenient experience.
UAE healthcare going digital
Okadoc strives to reduce “no shows” – patients who have booked appointments but change their mind. This reduction in “no shows” saves staff in the hospitals and clinics both time and money.
The uniqueness of Okadoc is that it doesn’t fall into the temptation of easy money. They don’t provide leads to hospitals or clinics based on people that sign up, and they don’t promote or place doctors or hospitals higher up on the Okadoc platform based on money.
“We concentrate on improving the healthcare experience for doctors, clinics, hospitals through real bookings. We make our platform very transparent. The more doctors provide information and help the patient make their decision, the more chances they have to grow their business,” Benturquia said.
There are about 23,000 doctors in the UAE, which includes about 15,000-16,000 private doctors 7,000-8,000 public doctors employed by the government, Benturquia states. The Okadoc app has more than 350 doctors that can be “instantly” booked on the app, and it aims to increase that number to 4,000 doctors within the next two years. This means that Okadoc aims to have a market penetration of more than 30 percent by 2022.
This could also potentially beckon a massive digital change in the UAE healthcare industry by creating a trend for online and mobile bookings, rather than making phone calls or visiting hospitals. Market analysts believe that it takes about 20 percent of market penetration before the implementation of an idea becomes a trend. By this understanding, UAE in 2022 could have most of its doctors, hospitals and clinics available for bookings, consultations and immediate questions just a click away!
“I think when the shift happens and you reach a certain tipping point, it becomes mainstream. I think in about two or three years time, in the UAE, we will reach this tipping point. And once that point is reached, it will see a massive growth within the following two years. If we see more than 20 percent of all the bookable doctors in the UAE reachable on a mobile platform by 2022, then in the next two years after that we could see about 50-60 percent of the doctors in the UAE following suit,” Fodhil Benturquia said.