EXCLUSIVE: How Marham is changing Pakistan's health landscape digitally

11:35 PM | 20 Oct, 2018
EXCLUSIVE: How Marham is changing Pakistan's health landscape digitally
Asma Salman Omer is the co-founder and head of User Experience at Marham. Basically a software engineer, she attained a degree in Information Technology. However, her love for seeing things from a different perspective and solving problems with new kind of solutions led her to pursue a career in Product Designing. She has worked in various design positions to later co-founding Marham to improve the healthcare sector of Pakistan.

She envisions a dignified, graceful and respectful life for patients in Pakistan and thus has committed herself to transform healthcare in Pakistan with the help of technology. She believes in working together and sharing the burden of those who are fighting a disease.

1. How ‘Marham.pk’ was born?

Choosing a doctor without much information is difficult in Pakistan as there are 560,832 annual deaths in Pakistan, just because people are unable to find the right doctor. "We decided to share the burden of those fighting a disease. We started with a small community on Facebook where people could help each other with information about health facilities, doctors, and their reviews. Thousands of people started joining the community and began sharing the information with each other," says Asma Salman Omer.

Understanding the need, Marham thus extended its services to an active website and mobile apps, where patients could find complete doctors' information, read reviews, and book appointments online every month. Not only this but through telemedicine, now patients are consulting authentic doctors from their homes.

Asma Salman Omer is the co-founder and head of User Experience at Marham.

2. How does it work? Please explain its working methodology

Marham is the largest digital healthcare platform in Pakistan to find, book and consult doctors online. The platform can be accessed through the website, mobile applications, social media and a 12-hour call centre helpline for both literate and illiterate users. Marham has developed a cloud-based system for both patients and doctors and is providing services regarding the search of an authentic doctor, booking doctor appointments online, seeking a second opinion, online consultations and medical tourism in Pakistan. Marham has helped more than 5 million people in Pakistan through its services.

3. How many users and medical specialists are associated with Marham in Pakistan and globally?

Marham have 12,000+ registered doctors on our platform catering to 18 specialities with more than 300,000 patients looking for the health information each month on our website.

4. What are the major diseases and medical issues discussed at the group?

The most common issues covered include women gynaecology, child health, nutrition and all medical categories from neurology to orthopaedic.

5. How many staff members and volunteers are involved with Marham?

Marham has a team of 31 members with three co-founders with a diverse background (Tech, User Experience and Business) working for full time. Marham Facebook Group is a community of 130,000 where people volunteer for Marham in respect to our different initiatives for social and community help.

6. How many average appointments are locked at Marham site and group in a day/month?

At Marham, 15,000 appointments are booked per month with 157,000 qualified doctors. Currently, they are working with 1,000 established practices and will be working to increase the number of practices and ultimately the number of appointments booked. They believe in 2 years of time, Marham will work as a centralized appointment booking system for the entire patient base of Pakistan.

7. How do you update the database of medical professionals registered with Marham?

Marham team is always in constant coordination with the existing doctors on our platform and there is a complete check and monitoring on their profiles. To acquire more and more doctors from all across Pakistan and to make them available online for patients, Marham is actively working all across Pakistan and the response from the side of doctors is overwhelming.

8. How do you earn and meet your expenses? Is there a profit-sharing formula agreed with doctors and even patients?

Doctors pay them for the technology, software and online reach.

9. How Facebook has supported/is supporting your initiative both technically and monetarily?

Besides mentorship, Facebook will be giving Marham $20,000 to grow their community.

10. Do you think Facebook support to a program like ‘Idea Caroron Ka’ would help in breeding new initiatives?

Yes, it develops the ecosystem of respecting the ideas and individual efforts. Idea Caroron Ka is a program that has brought the successful breed of startups in the limelight that has inspired many young people to take up the challenge of entrepreneurship and ultimately contribute to the society and world.

11. What are your future plans to elevate your project?

With the data of patients, Marham plans to work on research, awareness, and improvement of the ground realities of our healthcare system. "We believe in this era of technology, our people should not suffer as they do. We will establish more practices across Pakistan as well as penetrate the rural and underprivileged areas of Pakistan," Asma concludes.