Over the past month Discovery has allowed local customers to download, check out, and most importantly test its latest offering – the Discovery Health app.
For those unfamiliar with the product, the app is the latest addition to a lineup of mobile digital solutions that the company is making available to customers, but unlike the corporate and banking flavours, this new application is designed to be a one-stop shop when it comes to the healthcare needs of members.
With the aforementioned testing phase now done, Discovery is sounding a clarion call to all its members to try the new app.
We were on hand earlier today for a media briefing regarding the platform, where executives from the company unpacked some of the key features of the application, as well as answered our most pertinent questions.
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the Discovery Health app.
A few firsts
When it comes to features, outgoing Discovery Health CEO Dr Ryan Noach, was careful to stress that the new app delivers three firsts for the South African digital healthcare sector.
To that end, he highlighted the Speak To a Doctor Now, Virtual Physiotherapy, and Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT).
It is the first and last of the three that garnered the most attention during the briefing, with the virtual consultations in particular set to be a key part of the experience on this new app.
On this front, we watched a demo of it in action, with members given the ability to schedule appointments with their primary healthcare practitioner, or be directed to another medical professional depending on availability or the nature of the issue. There is also a panel of ER professionals that are available to assist in emergencies, along with a panic button being made available should you wish to call for an ambulance.
Discovery added that during the recent test period, the ER panel answered calls within 90 seconds, which is promising given the urgency that such incidents often require.
Shifting back to the virtual consultations and Discovery notes that every aspect of it is handled digitally, with meetings with doctors happening via a telehealth setup, which rose in prominence during the pandemic, as well as scripts being issued digitally.
At the time of writing, Dis-Chem is the go-to pharmacy on the app when it comes to dispensing medication, with in-store pickup or delivery options available, as well as same-day delivery available within weekday business hours.
Clicks is also set to be added as a dispensary option, with Discovery noting that its onboarding will happen sometime in 2024.
Last worth mentioning here is that prescriptions can be issued a number of ways, with them either being downloaded, emailed, or scanned to your phone to show to a pharmacist later.
Now for the really important part – how does billing work?
On this front, there are three methods. The first two are linked to the scheme a member may be on. Here services are split between urgent and non-urgent, with healthcare professionals determining the nature thereof following the consultation.
Should a service be deemed urgent, payment will come out of a member’s risk funds, while non-urgent services are pulled from day-to-day costs. The app provides a comprehensive breakdown of the status of a member’s plan and account, so there is a decent amount of transparency when it comes to costs.
The third method usually applies when a member’s funding has run out for a specific period. Here payments are billed after the consultation and will usually require some sort of EFT or bank transfer to settle the bill, but this may vary depending on the practice or institution.
It is also worth pointing out here that the fees charged in the Discovery Health app do carry a preferential rate due to the “immediacy of the channel” as Discovery terms it. The company says that it has tried to keep fees in line with industry standards, but given the nature of a service like this, it will likely be a little higher than what members may pay via a traditional route.
Looking at what is coming down the line, Discovery confirmed that there will be a gamification element to the app. The company aims to have this rewards system up and running some time in Q2 of next year, although a definitive date has not been mentioned.
When asked what role Discovery Vitality will play here, the company noted that there may be some overlap, but the rewards earned via Vitality and those on the Health app will differ. This is to ensure that those who have one, or indeed both, get the maximum benefit when it comes to redeemable rewards for healthy lifestyle choices.