MDLinking aims to be a WhatsApp, LinkedIn and virtual reality video library rolled into one to allow doctors from Afghanistan to Angola to share skills
Surgeons filming an operation for MDLinking, an app aiming to connect doctors around the world. Photograph: MDLinking
Dr Hans Flu, co-founder of MDLinking Photograph: Hans Flu
Imagine you’re a doctor in Swindon and a patient with a chewing tobacco habit turns up with unusual tongue lesions. What if you could, at the press of a few buttons, locate and get instant advice from the Mumbai-based world expert on cancers related to chewing tobacco?
This is the vision for a new app which aims to transform the way in which 8.5 million doctors around the world share their knowledge and skills.
MDLinking – an expert directory, instant messaging service and video source – began trialling a beta version for iPhones in May this year and aims to launch its full Apple and Android versions before 2017.
The Dutch startup, which has €2.5m of seed funding, has several hundred testers in the Netherlands, 4,000 registered doctors so far and is in talks with organisations including Médecins Sans Frontières and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) about using its free software.
Gijs Walraven, director for health at AKDN – which operates a non-profit, private healthcare system in developing world communities – is interested in collaborating with the MDLinking tool.
“AKDN’s work in health is mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, central and south Asia,” he says. “In these countries, there are fewer medical doctors and they have much more limited opportunities to consult with colleagues on difficult cases as well as to [access] education. New ways to interact at a distance and in a secure manner could play a very important role to improve this.
“Learning new operating techniques and how to better diagnose using the innovative video techniques that MDLinking is developing could be a real breakthrough.” And it works both ways, he says: “Healthcare providers in rural settings in Afghanistan have knowledge and skills that could be beneficial to health practitioners in London.”
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