A cadre of 150 Vietnamese tech experts from all around the world joined together to create 'Giup Toi!' (Help Me Out!), a mobile app that looks to shoulder the burden on Vietnam’s healthcare system during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic by bringing professional medical consultation to patients and the general public.
'Giup Toi!' is part of a project managed by the National Technology Center for COVID-19 Prevention and Control and sponsored by the Ministry of Communications and Information, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Solution for care
The app acts as a bridge that connects Vietnamese patients with doctors and experts who provide free-of-charge medical advice.
Users just need to download the app to their devices, then describe their health problems — from suspected COVID-19 symptoms to chronic diseases — before the system can put them through to a suitable doctor who can give in-depth diagnosis.
Meanwhile, doctors can check up on residents’ requests on the app in their free time before deciding to reach out to them. This way, even the smallest bit of time out of the doctors’ schedule can be utilized to provide support for the public.
As Hung Tran, founder of the 'Giup Toi!' project, points out that many medical facilities in Vietnam are being overburdened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many asymptomatic COVID-19 cases have been sent back home for self-isolation, while those at high risk of infection have yet to receive consultation from professionals.
Patients with conditions other than COVID-19 still need their medical check-ups. Mental health decline has also emerged as an issue that needs to be addressed during Vietnam’s extended social distancing measures.
In light of the situation, 'Giup Toi!' is anticipated to help lighten the burden on the healthcare apparatus by providing remote check-ups for the public while using little resources from doctors.
According to Hung, practitioners can be anywhere and still tend to health inquiries on the app with just 15 minutes off their timetable.
The app is currently backed by a roster of health experts, one of whom is Dr. Phan Thi Ngoc Linh, director of the Center of Healthcare Improvement Research.
As Dr. Linh sees it, the app should not only focus on the number of patients they tend to, but also on the quality of each consultation.
For that reason, practitioners and experts in its network should be screened and selected carefully.
They will also be trained and must uphold the consultation guideline that the 'Giup Toi!' team prescribed to ensure service quality.
Four weeks of development
Considering the tremendous amount of work that communication platforms normally require, 'Giup Toi!' has astounded many IT professionals as its development only took four weeks.
Seeing the urgent need for medical support in Vietnam, Hung Tran, tech entrepreneur and founder of the rising AI platform Got It, called on the Vietnamese tech community and assembled a team of 150 engineers to help him develop a health consultation app.
Nguyen Phuong Thuy, tech specialist for a health data firm in the U.S. and co-founder of education platform STEAM for Vietnam, is one of the earliest supporters of Hung’s initiative.
The 'Giup Toi!' team was so motivated that they started creating their website, establishing a domain, and recruiting help for the project right after they first met each other in a video call, Thuy recounted.
Thang Le, another devoted backer of the project, said he and other members spent many sleepless nights completing the app in time.
Despite being busy with his day job as a data specialist at an oil company in the U.S., Thang still chipped in his hours to support Vietnam’s bid to push back the coronavirus epidemic.
Thanks to the team’s dedication, 'Giup Toi!' is now up and running on Google Play Store and Apple App Store, raking in thousands of downloads after just a few weeks of launch.
However, the developers are still not satisfied.
They are working on the final touches to raise 'Giup Toi!''s handling capacity to 300,000 requests per day.
“We have invited over 300 doctors to join the app and provide support for patients,” said Dr. Quach Huu Trung, director of 199 Hospital in Da Nang City and member of the 'Giup Toi!' team.
“We hope that the app can help our community overcome the epidemic and resume our economic and social progress soon.”