CAIRO: 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.
Talks about O7 Therapy had been continuing for almost a year before the pandemic started, according to Ashraf Bacheet, CEO and co-founder of the online platform.
However, as the world slowly started to close down and the pandemic spread widely, Bacheet, together with Nader Iskander and Ashraf Adel, were motivated to quickly launch their newly founded business venture.
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 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in the last week of June 2020, adults in the US experienced “considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19.”
Using validated screening instruments, the CDC established that 40.9 percent of 5,470 respondents reported an adverse mental or behavioral 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.
Being a pharmacist, Bacheet had spotted quite a few loopholes in Egypt’s health care industry long before it was hit by the coronavirus storm.
“Whether it was health care or education, people in Egypt are paying hefty amounts of money for mediocre quality in both sectors,” he said.
* 40.9% - CDC respondents who reported adverse mental or behavioral health conditions.
After months of exploring the idea of merging tech and health care in one holistic solution, the trio 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 customized tool that spoke directly to Arabs and addressed their problems, from age-old stigmas to cultural idiosyncrasies,” Bacheet said.
“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. “Doctors on the O7 Therapy platform undergo extensive screening before joining our team of therapists,” Bacheet said.
“Our 20 percent 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.”
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,” Bacheet said.
“We have designed a HIPAA and GRDP-compliant AI-powered novelty software that offers solutions to ensure personalized 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 more.
“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,” Bacheet said.
“We’re constantly working on improving our platform, with bi-weekly updates that allow customer satisfaction within a user-friendly environment.”
- This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region