As the largest Arabic medical and health advice platform, Altibbi.com provides encyclopedic knowledge of medical conditions and diseases to more than 250,000 visitors every day. In addition to delivering health treatment and diagnosis information, the site allows subscribers to connect securely and privately via Twilio Masked Phone Numbers to its extensive network of physicians and medical specialists.
Finding reliable, affordable, and comprehensive healthcare is a common problem for patients in all parts of the world. And talking to a licensed doctor to get medical advice when you need it most can be difficult. In the Middle East, these issues are magnified in certain populations due to lack of medical insurance, gender taboos, and cultural restrictions. For instance in Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to see a male doctor. And in many Arab countries, income is a prohibitive factor. “The low and middle income populations have little if any access to quality healthcare,” explains Jalil Allabadi, founder and CEO of Altibbi.
Allabadi set out to create a healthier climate for patients by providing a portal for them to easily look up medical research and news and talk directly to physicians. The information at Altibbi ranges from medical news to maternity and family care to dental and natural herbal remedies. It also includes detailed information about medications in terms of usage, what symptoms they treat, and how effective they are.
Most importantly, Altibbi.com offers an on-demand, subscription-based service–for men and women–that gives patients unlimited access to doctors 24×7. To provide communications for that service, Allabadi’s IT team turned to Twilio. “We use Twilio Masked Phone Numbers to connect patients to doctors dynamically and privately,” he says. “Since the numbers are kept private by Twilio, users love it.”
Altibbi launched in January 2016 in Jordan, and now the service has expanded to other Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Iraq. The site has 100 doctors on call for patients in these five countries. Altibbi also maintains a directory of 12K verified doctors that respond on the site’s free Q&A platform, where patients can get answers to their non time-sensitive health questions and communicate directly with multiple doctors.
Altibbi has proven to be so popular that it averages 200 new subscribers per day and has 50,000 total users who pay $5 monthly to get unlimited calls to medical professionals. Its mobile apps have been downloaded 3 million times.
When subscribers sign up, they include their phone number in their profile data. When they seek immediate help from a doctor, Twilio makes it easy. Twilio securely masks their private number as well as the doctor’s number and matches patients with local doctors. “Subscribers press the ‘call doctor’ button, and they get a doctor on the phone in 20 seconds,” says Allabadi.
Using Altibbi, a patient can get a history and transcript of the calls with each doctor. With a historical record, the patient and doctor have enough information to follow up offline. This overcomes the problem found in many regional clinics, where an unlicensed healthcare provider treats a patient they have never met and doesn’t know anything about them, making consistent care challenging.
Altibbi plans to expand the business into other countries, including Kuwait, Bahrain, and Sudan. The company is also adding services in Egypt, a country of nearly 100 million where only 10 percent of the population has medical insurance. “The rest have a hard time getting care,” explains Allabadi, also noting that general practitioners in Egypt are underutilized and underpaid. Because of the dire need for patients in Egypt to get healthcare, Altibbi.com has already facilitated 50K phone consultations with Twilio in the first nine months since launch.
In Egypt and Jordan, the company intends to work with providers and pharmacies to become a micro-insurer, where a patient’s Altibbi subscription itself becomes insurance that yields discounts–and affordable healthcare. “The idea is that pharmacy chains can give our subscribers discounts of 50 to 70 percent on medications and tests,” says Allabadi. The company also plans to launch other perks for subscribers, including savings on diapers and essentials.