Using their industry knowledge and the power of technology, three Egyptians have built an online platform designed to help people cope with mental health difficulties.
By May Rostom.
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, nearly all face-to-face interactions have shifted to online platforms. Learning, grocery shopping and even attending events now lack the in-person intimacy of the past. Like everything else, psychotherapy sessions have become virtual, conducted behind a screen.
A recently released survey from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that in the last week of June 2020, adults in the United States experienced “considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19.” Using validated screening instruments, the CDC established that 40.9% of 5,470 respondents reported an adverse mental or behavioural health condition, including symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, trauma-related symptoms, new or increased substance use, or thoughts of suicide.
While social anxiety may seem to be a temporary issue, experts warn that a sizable minority of people will experience mental health disorders that will long outlast the pandemic.
SPURRED INTO ACTION
“Talks about O7 Therapy had been ongoing for almost a year before the pandemic started. But, as the world slowly started to close down and the pandemic spread widely all around us, we were motivated to quickly launch our newly founded business venture,” says Ashraf Bacheet, CEO and co-founder of O7 Therapy.
Being a pharmacist, Bacheet spotted quite a few loopholes in Egypt’s healthcare industry.
“Whether it was healthcare or education, people in Egypt are paying hefty amounts of money for mediocre quality in both sectors,” Bacheet says.
After months of exploring the idea of merging tech and healthcare in one holistic solution, Ashraf Bacheet, Nader Iskander and Ashraf Adel were ready to roll up their sleeves and start working on O7 Therapy.
“At the time, two years ago, we barely had any competition. No one in the region was offering a customised tool that spoke directly to Arabs and addressed their problems, from age-old stigmas to cultural idiosyncrasies,” Bacheet notes. “Our main goal was to build a complete ecosystem for mental health services; a platform that connected people who really needed help with doctors who offered it.”
Following internationally acclaimed strict acceptance policies helped O7 Therapy attract some of the best psychologists and psychiatrists. The CEO stresses:
“Doctors on the O7 Therapy platform undergo extensive screening before joining our team of therapists. Our 20% acceptance rate is proof that every doctor on our platform holds at least a master's degree and has a clear understanding of modalities, psychometric tests, and specific therapy techniques, which helps them in offering their service in the most efficient and professional manner.”
WORKING TOGETHER TO UPHOLD STANDARDS
From peer reviews and case management sessions to drug review meetings, all the doctors on the platform offer each other praise, positive guidance and constructive criticism to ensure increased patient safety, updated modes of treatment and overall quality of care.
While O7 Therapy started its funding journey by bootstrapping, it is currently closing a pre-series A round of investment.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve the level of service we offer on our platform. We have designed a HIPAA and GRDP-compliant AI-powered novelty software that offers solutions to ensure personalised customer experiences and seamless patient engagement. By gaining insight into the patient’s journey, O7 Therapy aptly matches every patient with their respective doctor while providing comprehensive data security and data encryption features.”
Patients seeking help on the O7 Therapy platform can gain access to art therapy, online counselling, e-prescriptions, drug management services, and a lot more. Bacheet concludes:“O7 Therapy has bridged location gaps, overcome cultural stigmas associated with seeking therapy, and created a safe space for people to openly face their problems and actively seek solutions. We’re constantly working on improving our platform, with bi-weekly updates that allow customer satisfaction within a user-friendly environment.”