Kazakhstan Launches Free Telehealth Service Pilot Program in Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan launched a pilot project that provides free virtual consultation with qualified doctors in three medical institutions in Almaty, Nur-Sultan and Shymkent on June 30th. The service is regarded as a part of the primary health care (PHC) program and is part of  a package of guaranteed volume of free medical care (GOBMP).

A screenshot of a display example, where a patient is having a virtual consultation with a doctor from June 30 video conference.

The Ministry of Healthcare, the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry and the iDoctor.kz medical service for finding doctors are working together to develop the online system in accordance with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s recent order. The project will cover other Kazakh cities after the initial testing phase.

“President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev from the very beginning of the pandemic said that in this situation there should be non-standard solutions. At the state commission, he instructed the healthcare professionals to begin introducing telemedicine treatment immediately,” said Advisor to the President on Digitalization and Innovative Technologies Bagdat Mussin.

It is an opportunity for many medical workers to work from home and avoid direct contact with the infected. The service will keep chat, audio, video and file sharing options all in one place to ease patient-doctor communication. Patients will also be able to have a virtual appointment with both therapists and specialists in specific fields such as gynecologists and cardiologists, among others.

“The quarantine showed us that people have a great need to receive medical services at home, while online. The new product eliminates the need to go to the hospital to ask simple questions. For example, a transcript of one’s past tests and analyses can be obtained online,” iDoctor.kz Head Davranbek Tashbayev explained during the June 30th virtual press conference.

The service can also become an additional income source for domestic medical workers. Foreigners and Kazakh citizens who want extended medical care can use the paid version of the service. According to Tashbayev, this might help develop medical tourism in Kazakhstan.

Some Kazakh clinics and hospitals offer online consultations over regular phone calls, WhatsApp chats and Telegram bots. According to Mussin, the service’s main advantage over the existing online services is in the improved quality of communication and the ensured governmental oversight.

“To improve the quality of these consultations, we turned to domestic IT companies,” said Mussin. “[The IT specialists]carried out complex integrations literally within a month, a process that would normally take up to six months.”

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