Kuwait's Tabeeby Wants To Improve Patients' Accessibility To Doctors
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This article is part of a series on pioneering entrepreneurs in Kuwait that Entrepreneur Middle East has built in collaboration with Kuwait Finance House. Kuwait Finance House is considered a pioneer in Islamic finance or Sharia’a compliant banking, with it being the first Islamic bank established in 1977 in the State of Kuwait, and is today one of the foremost Islamic financial institutions in the world.
Launched in 2012, Tabeeby initially launched as an online medical directory to give users access to doctors’ information such as medical qualification, services, clinic location and timings. Its founding team consisting of Abdullah Al Harbi as CEO, Lubna Omar as COO, Dr. Tariq Khalid as Medical Director, Ayman AL Enezi as CSO, and Anmar Hamad as CTO, believed in keeping an efficient and prompt communications with doctors. "We realize that a strong communication barrier existed between people and doctors, preventing patients from finding the most suitable physician, and accessing credible, science‐based health messages,” says Al Harbi, on how this opportunity prompted them to debut an integrated website with various features, with the main objective of helping connect doctors and prospective patients in an efficient and seamless way.
With the mission of improving patients’ accessibility to doctors everywhere, from being an online medical directory platform, the platform upgraded in 2017 to being one of the region’s rising social network for health, creating an ecosystem to bring together both doctors and patients, providing them tools to participate openly and freely.
Al Harbi notes that with the platform, doctors can manage and monitor their patients in real time and share with them their knowledge and experience. Patients likewise can get easy access to doctors and medical services providers, obtain medical advice, and get adequate answers.
That’s not to say that the startup hasn’t had their fair share of challenges- Al Harbi says that in the beginning of their journey, one of their biggest challenge was convincing doctors to build their online presence and join Tabeeby’s online community as doctors often used conventional offline channels to reach out to patients. The team tackled this by focusing on segments of doctors who were “eagerly willing to make the first change in how the health service is delivered.” The result? Tabeeby managed to succeed in bring more than 5,000 healthcare providers with over 3 million unique users in their platforms, according to Al Harbi.
The team recently closed its funding round of US$770,000 from UK-based VC firm Ground One Ventures and are a few more steps closer to releasing their newly developed mobile app to bring quality healthcare. The startup is also looking into expanding doctor-patient communication by developing multiple online and offline channels for an efficient and safe interaction.
Excerpt from a conversation with Abdullah Al Harbi, CEO of Tabeeby:
What has been the most negative feedback on your product that you have received and how did you go about it?
Collecting feedback from customers has been a fundamental part in the growth of our business. During the past 3 years, we noticed that customers were demanding more interaction with their doctors, they were eagerly looking for ways to know more about their health, how to deal efficiently & quickly with their health issues and to get in touch with trusted doctors as soon as possible to solve their medical complaints.
To find the right answer, Tabeeby was revamped to allow physicians to leverage social dynamics and networks to encourage participation and conversation. We created a lively ecosystem of healthcare providers and health consumers who interact - repeatedly and efficiently. We are bringing people, doctors and other healthcare providers on one platform.
What are some of the main considerations that entrepreneurs should keep when starting up a business in Kuwait and why?
In any part of the world, starting a business can be very stressful. There are thousands of tasks that need to be done. The New Kuwait 2035 long-term plan that aims to transform the country into a regional financial, commercial and cultural hub, is based on diversifying the economy away from total dependence on hydrocarbon revenues, encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and promoting entrepreneurship among the youth. The government has taken many steps to resolve red tape and attract foreign investments and has succeeded in simplifying procedures. It is still working to make them even easier.
What are some of the opportunities that you see available in the Kuwaiti market today and what would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
The Kuwaiti market offers great opportunities for small business to launch their products aided by high levels of education and creative talent of today’s youth. The country’s high purchasing power certainly gives businesses a competitive advantage. And finally, my personal advice to entrepreneurs is to get out of their offices and engage with potential customers, actively look and apply for accelerator programs. They are excellent hubs that enable startups to develop deep connections with experts, find inspirations and insights about their startups and learn immensely form mentors and coaches and likely-minded entrepreneurs.