Mark Choo is a co-founder of TeleMe, a medical tech startup that offers online video consultations, followed by delivery of medication, appointments or home calls, depending on diagnosis. ZIEMAN finds out the motivation and expectations behind the idea.
What is TeleMe exactly?
Teleme is a platform that utilises technology to bridge the gap between doctors and patients, and aims to provide convenient access to healthcare. We offer online video consultations, along with the dispensation of medication, if needed, from any of our partnering pharmacies.
Users are able to consult a doctor from the comfort of their own home and have their medication delivered to them.
How did the idea come about?
It all started after I returned to KL from San Francisco a few years ago. I knew I wanted to start my own business. Not long after that, I felt sick and refused to see a doctor because I have an aversion towards hospitals and clinics. Unfortunately, after an entire week of being sick, I caved in and headed to the hospital.
It was then that I found out I was down with dengue. To cut a long story short, upon recovery, Dr Aqeel (a partner of TeleMe) enlightened me on this concept called telemedicine. It then dawned upon me that we could move medical consultation online! I was sold almost immediately.
Anyway, I’ve always wanted to follow in my parent’s entrepreneurial footsteps. Growing up, I watched them build a business from the ground up. So, I decided to take the plunge.
How was TeleMe set up?
The co-founders of TeleMe are three individuals, two of whom are full-time doctors, and me. Dr Hoh Hon Bing is an ophthalmologist and has been in private practice for over 15 years, while Dr Aqeel Ahamad graduated from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and majored in MBBS.
This essentially defines TeleMe as a platform that is built by doctors for patients.
Currently, we have about 70 doctors and over 100 users on our system. As soon as we go live, we aim to market our brand and build awareness. You can consult an experienced doctor at home or on-the-go via video chat, take photos or upload images to help the doctor better understand your condition or queries.
How does one go about getting an online appointment?
Just login to www.teleme.co and sign up. Once you’ve logged on, you can make an appointment with any of our doctors. Alternatively, you can click the “Call A Doctor Now” button, make a payment and, voila: you will be connected to any doctor who’s online. You can have a live, online video consultation with one of our practitioners to address your medical condition via Chrome/Firefox on desktop/laptop.
If necessary, the doctor will prescribe medication and we will deliver the medication to your home. Alternatively, you can choose to pick it up from a pharmacy nearest to you. Just a heads-up: We are currently in beta, and our team is still working to enhance our services.
What’s your main objective?
With TeleMe, we hope to improve the healthcare landscape in Malaysia. In the US, studies reveal, patients enrolled in the telemedicine programmes have a 44% lower re-admission rate. We are aware that time is money, and many avoid going to the hospital because it is too much of a hassle.
If we are able to offer an alternative solution, which reduces long waiting hours, we believe people will be more willing to get their checkups done. In the long run, we hope to redefine telemedicine as the “new normal”.
Are Malaysians ready?
I cannot deny that educating Malaysians about the relevance of telemedicine will be extremely challenging, but if there is a will, there is a way.
I foresee a long journey ahead. But I strongly believe that this is the way forward. It is only a matter of time before the revolution picks up.
Do you think it will be a success?
We are confident because we are providing solutions to long existing pain-points. We are bridging the gap by offering a convenient and affordable alternative.
Think about it, you can now rest when you’re on MC, instead of having to go through the hassle of driving to the hospital, finding parking space and queuing up. As for the doctors, they will be able to consult more patients within shorter time frames and provide better quality service to their existing patients.
What problems have you encountered?
Introducing TeleMe to doctors was challenging initially. But we refused to settle for a no. We continued speaking to doctors, and began to utilise their feedback as a means for us to better improve the services we offer. Now the doctors very receptive and willing to give TeleMe a try.
Where is TeleMe available?
For starters, we are going to focus on the Klang Valley. As we grow and continue to gain traction, we will then conquer the rest of Malaysia!
What’s your target group?
Our target markets are individuals within the ages of 18 to 36 — the technologically-savvy demographic. But we’re also aiming to reach out to patients suffering from chronic conditions, as TeleMe can be used as a platform to monitor the progress of patients. We are different from other med-tech startups because we are the only one that offers online video consultation.
When is it launching?
We are looking at the next two months. In the interim, we are validating our concept by testing and optimising our site whilst collecting data and feedback from users and doctors in the hopes to build an optimal product.
I love football, reading, go-Karting, watching movies and going to the mamak with friends.
What about favourite quotes?
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ”Do one thing every day that scares you.”