Thai health startup group has announced to establish the Health Startup Network (HSN) to solve legal restrictions, facilitate creating innovation and reduce risks from running this startup-business. HSN comes from a combination of multiple health startup companies. One of them is Ooca, a platform for psychiatrists, psychologists and patients or anyone who has problems and wants to share it with a doctor. The founder is Dr.Kanchanapassorn Suriyasaengpet or Dr.Eik
“Ooca was created because of a big boundary between people and psychiatrists”
Hello. My name is Dr.Kanchanapassorn Suriyasaengpet, a graduate from Chiang Mai University, Faculty of Dentistry. After I graduated, I worked as a dentist at the army for 2 years. During this whole time working at the army I noticed problems of accessing health services in many ways. I feel like increasing access to doctors is essential.
Thailand is somewhat unique. We are lucky to have 30 baht for all medications, good health insurance and people getting reimbursement, but we still have some limitation such as if people want to see or talk with doctors who specialize in certain way e.g. psychologists, counselors or psychiatrists, the number of these individuals is still relatively small. Most service providers are concentrated in major cities. In remote areas, there are only a few psychiatrists. Or some provinces may not. The initiative to do Ooca started from here. We want to make it easy to access health services. With technology we can do it, and everything is confidential. We want you to think that mental health is everyone’s issue not just those who have mental illness or depression.
Why specifically choose psychology to make the Ooca platform?
Actually, every disease is important, and it depends on where we are. Looking at the statistics, one out of four of the population have been in a tragic incident that causes them depression. The number from the World Health Organization says more than 300 million people around the world have depression. We can say that it could happen to anyone because everything that happens in our life is unpredictable.
Does this mean Ooca is for everyone not just patients who take medication?
Ooca is open for everyone that have problems and want to share them. They can come talk to us because our aim is not just to those who have mental illnesses. If you have them, you should get treatment from a hospital. We target the people who have problems and let them talk with a professional consultant to help.
On Ooca there is no dispensing, it’s only for discussing about the problems. If a psychologist or a psychiatrist believes that you do need continuous treatment, then they will suggest the nearest hospital to the patient and we have the list of hospitals. We can say that we are the first choice for those who want a counselor and are scared to share it or do not know how to deal with it.
Can you tell us how to use this platform?
The website is progressive web app and is accessible from Chrome, macOS, Windows, Android and Firefox. The Videocall works on Chrome but not on iPhone thus there will be an app for iPhone which is now in the process of making for the App Store.
Users will see a “Start now” button and when you click on it, it will take you to a registration form without having to install any programs or extensions. More importantly, users do not need to use their real name, they can use their nickname. All the system needs are just your age and gender.
In the future, our system will be linked with the hospitals. When you want your information to be in the hospital system then you can put your correct details. Your other information and password will have been already linked it for you and we have firewall to protect your personal information.
What is the communication mode?
For now, we only have video call because psychiatrists prioritize facial expression but, in the future, there will be a function for psychiatrists to choose if they can take just a normal call because we have to compromise both patients and psychiatrists’ needs.
What is the privacy standard for user’s information?
Ooca uses the HIPAA Compliance standard from the U.S.A to secure patients’ data because there is no clear enforcement of patients’ data protection standards in Thailand. The company then uses HIPAA Compliance as the main standard.
Who is the service provider? And what are the costs of the service?
Ooca has just been activated. Now on the platform there are consultant psychologists and psychiatrists – together about 8-9 people. Psychiatrists must be on the board. (Diplomas from the Royal College of Psychiatrists of Thailand). And there are two types of psychologists; clinical psychologists who focus on the disorder and test the patient, and counseling psychologists who are experts in counseling. Both types of psychologists do not have the same control. Clinical psychologists must have a certification board but is not required for consultant psychologists. On the Ooca system there is a basic requirement, which is you have to hold a master’s degree. For clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, they must have a professional examination board. After they get a board, then we will test their attitude towards long distance counseling.
In our system you can make an appointment 2 months in advance but not before that. Each doctor will set the cost, date and time. And if they are ok for walk-ins then they will customize it. Our platform is just a tool for doctors and people to reach each other more easily.
In our system the education history determines the cost of each doctor. The service charge is based on minutes. If it’s your first time using the service, the first 15 minutes will not be over 300 baht. Users have to pay a minimum 300 baht first and in case that the time is exceeded, then the system will charge according to the time actually spent. Ooca takes a percentage share. We try to control the price so that it does not get too high. If the doctor sets a high price, then they will earn more than the normal fee. Ooca will also earn more. As for some doctors that don’t set a high price then we will ask for a little share of the doctor’s fee, to help doctors who want to serve at a friendly price.
I am just a small part trying to push the platform to happen. However, Health Tech is the most difficult thing to disrupt. The players in this market must be patient and open minded in order to create new developments but it has to be based on legality and security for patients(users) to have the best experience.
Whenever a collaborative development between innovator, stakeholder or hospital and law enforcement occurs and brings good change, it will bring benefits to countless individuals.
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