Crystal Martin at Wathupitiwala, employing close to 1,000 sewing machine operators, recently became the 10th factory in Sri Lanka providing free 24/7 doctor services to its workers and their families. They join the company’s Katunayake facility and other innovative factory operators like Ahlers AG, Hela Intimates, Royal Fernwood Porcelain and Service Shoes Lanka, who work with oDoc, Sri Lanka’s pioneer telemedicine company, to solve healthcare problems faced by employees and reduce production delays caused by illness.

In June, the oDoc service marked its overseas expansion with its first client in India – Khadkeshwar Farms, just north of Bangalore covering 450 workers with scope to expand to over 2,000.

Mr. Mark Muller, the Divisional GM at Crystal Martin, noted: “We are always looking for new ways to solve old problems. Our employees can now consult a doctor within three minutes at work, or even in the middle of the night from their homes. The positive impact of this on their lives has been immediate.”

“Easy access to good healthcare is a basic human right. Our lower income employees and their family members had difficulty reaching doctors for various economic and social reasons. This was resulting in avoidable health issues for them. Of course, this has an impact on factory operations as well. So, from a human and business perspective we have been wanting to help our employees solve this problem. oDoc has used technology to make video consultations viable medically for all our employees at a price we can afford,” he elaborated.

The affordable pricing model highlighted by Mr. Muller is a monthly subscription of Rs. 35/- per month covering each employee and their family members. The subscription gives covered individuals unlimited free consultations with the over 200 SLMC-registered GPs and specialists on the oDoc service. Conditions treated include everyday issues like the flu and stomach bugs and more complex mental health, dermatological, paediatric and gynaecological issues as well. Preventive care like weight management is also available.

The service has secured an annual utilisation rate of over 40% – 4 times the global average. This has been achieved through efforts by oDoc to work closely with doctors on the platform on clinical safety and excellent bedside manner. “We noticed the employees are not only cared for, they also feel they are speaking to a doctor who genuinely cares for them. They love this standard of service, become repeat users and appreciate us for providing it to them,” said Mr. Muller.

Telemedicine services like oDoc, which offer video, audio and text consultations, have seen wide adoption in the private and public arenas globally in countries like the US, India, Japan, Rwanda and Singapore. Following the consultation, doctors are able to issue valid prescriptions over the platform if medically required. What’s unique in the model introduced by oDoc, is that upon launch, the service is provided from the sick room at the factory in collaboration with the existing nurse using a tablet device. The nurse plays a key role, helping employees to understand how the service works and what it can be used for. Employees are also able to download the oDoc app on their own phones or their family members’ phones and use it from home.

Dr. Janaka Wickremesinghe, the Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of oDoc stated, “We have found that building a strong and caring community in the workplace and battling attrition are drivers for adoption. Our clients also benefit as they are able to exceed workplace compliance standards set themselves and by the international brands they sell to. This will definitely help uplift the image of Sri Lanka as a responsible export manufacturer by providing high quality healthcare to workers.”

AIA Insurance, PickMe, Daraz and Commercial Bank are some of the other companies offering the service to their employees and partners or clients providing reliable healthcare to over 100,000 covered individuals.