Online Presence of Health Care Facilities in Pakistan – An Analysis

I’ve only recently developed an interest in following trends in technology, particularly the software side. I read scores of articles everyday about new apps and new research. At times I come across services that I wish were available in Pakistan too (like Yelp).

This often also makes me want to develop a local Yelp-type service myself but I’m not so sure about getting into a venture of my own just yet. Since I come from a technical background, when I look at most processes in our local institutions I try to imagine how they could be mapped to an online process. In spite of all the advances in the internet, we’re still heavily dependent on paperwork, manual bookkeeping and cumbersome processes. So many things would be so much easier if they were just available online! One, for example, are medical health records.
I’d initially set out to write a post on what my ideal patient information system would contain but then I decided to look at the websites of some famous hospitals in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. I wanted to see what services they offer to people who actually bother going online in an attempt to register themselves or book an appointment. I found some interesting stuff.
To start off, I’ll clarify that my research group only included about 7-8 hospitals that I know to be popular. But since these are top names, one cannot expect more from others. Still, in case there are some hospitals out there that offer better online services to the public, I’d appreciate that you share them on this forum. 🙂
According to my initial findings, merely by looking at the websites of each hospital, I found the following:

* NA stands for Not Available.

From this figure you can plainly see that there’s no information about Medical History available on the websites of these hospitals. So I emailed all of them to ask if the have an online patient portal for this.
If we look at the rest of the data above, we can see that most hospitals provide Online Registration and a few also provide Lab Reports online. Appointment Booking and Online Consultation are only provided by one hospital each.
I can understand how Online Consultation can be tricky but Appointment Booking is pretty straightforward. In fact it would be more convenient if this was available online.
Another interesting thing I’m waiting for, is the response time of these hospitals to my email. Something that always ticks me off is late response time to online queries. I’m not sure how this works in other countries but at least in Pakistan, the Contact Us page on websites is just a sham. When you send email to the addresses on these pages, you hardly ever hear back. Eventually one has to call and ask. To which I always say, “Better remove that page if you can’t manage what comes through it because that only annoys people and generates bad word of mouth”.
So coming back to the topic of online health care services; these days, in addition to having a web presence, it’s increasingly becoming important to have a mobile presence. Everything that you offer online can also be offered on mobile through apps. Following are only a few of the services that could be exposed to the public via mobile apps:

  • Patient Medical Records
  • Bill Payment & Billing History
  • Registration
  • Appointment Booking
  • Emergency Numbers

According to the latest report Internet Trends 2014 – Code Conference, from digital industry analyst Mary Meeker, health care is at an inflection point in terms of digital opportunities. With people having everything available on their fingertips these days, health care portals and mobile apps aren’t such a big ask.

P.S. I never heard from any of the hospitals I’d emailed.


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