A group of medical doctors has launched a mobile app aimed at reducing patient-waiting time in Nigerian hospitals.
Patients in public hospitals in the country spend an average of two hours before they are attended to by a doctor, according to a report.
The app, known as KompleteCare, can be accessed at the Google play store using a mobile phone. It is a collaboration between the Society for Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON) and a healthcare company in Nigeria, Sevenz Healthcare.
The app was unveiled to the public on May 18 at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, by the Commissioner for Health in the state, Dominic Ukpong, to mark SOFPON's celebration of the 2018 World Family Doctor's Day.
SOFPON said the app provides a meeting-point online between doctors and patients where consultation, examination, and drug prescription can take place, and thereby help to reduce the crowd of patients at public hospitals.
Doctors across different parts of the country are welcome to register and use the app and get paid for their services, the group said during its unveiling.
"You'll have to fill in your MDCN number, it will be confirmed first before you are allowed to log in as a doctor. There's a place for doctors, and there's a place also for the patient. The app will direct a patient on the doctor to meet - let's say a cardiologist.
"In the future, the biggest hospital will be on your mobile phone," the group said.
Nene Andem, a consultant family physician at the Emmanuel Hospital, Eket, Akwa Ibom State, and the President of SOFPON, Uyo Zone, said she was excited about the "innovation".
"Doctors sometimes do consultation on phone, and they don't get paid for this," she said. "With this app, doctors will now be paid for every single consultation they do. If we can get people to key into the app, it will reduce patient-waiting time in the hospitals."
"The common challenge most patients would want to talk about if you ask them, is the waiting time; spending too much time in the hospital," says Daniel Okeke, a doctor at the Department of Family Medicine, UUTH.
"They say if you go to most of the government-owned hospital, from the time they arrive, to when they have to pay to get their cards, waiting to get their card, waiting to pay money, waiting to see to see a nurse to take their vital signs - blood pressure, weight, temperature and all that - and waiting to see the doctor. You think that ends there! After waiting to see the doctor, you still have to wait again to get some drugs from the pharmacy. And if some investigations were ordered, you have to wait at the place where the results would be collected.
"The thing in the mind of most Nigerian patients is that once you are going to a public hospital, you'll have to clear your schedule for that day. You know when you are going, but you don't know when you are coming back," Mr Okeke said in Uyo during the 2018 World Family Doctor's Day celebration.
The celebration also featured a lecture on how family physicians are leading the way in patient care, presented by Etiobong Etukumana, a consultant family physician and the Chairman, Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), UUTH.