Dubai-based ShopDoc is trying to make healthcare a habit among children using the metaverse
The startup will collaborate with schools to set up health centres on the metaverse. The centres will provide services for mental health, women’s health, and emotional fitness, one-on-one consultations, and awareness campaigns.
Healthy habits must be formed at a young age. But how does one take this message to youngsters? Using what they connect with the most—technology.
That is what Dubai-basedis attempting to do. It plans to use the metaverse to reach youngsters and help them build healthy habits from a young age.
“The right age to build good habits and healthy behaviour is when we are growing up. So, for preventive healthcare to be more effective, we have to provide awareness and education to youngsters,” says Shihab Makaniyil, Co-founder, ShopDoc.
Drawing inspiration from Dubai Healthcare City, a neighbourhood in Dubai which is dominated by high-tech hospitals and medical teaching centres, the team at ShopDoc is building a ‘healthcare city’ in the metaverse to provide preventive primary care and healthcare awareness for school children.
The startup’s journey began in 2020 in Kerala, as Mobeed Care, where it operated for 2.5 years. Later, to focus on the metaverse platform, the team moved to the UAE.
Currently, ShopDoc offers services such as booking appointments and health packages for diabetes, infertility, and bone health, to customers in Kerala. The services are available both on a website and a mobile application on Google Play and Apple Play Store.
Shihab is now working with his friend Zulfikar Ali and Dr Mreushna Rahul for building the metaverse version of the ShopDoc app in Dubai.
Health centres on the metaverse
Currently, ShopDoc’s metaverse version is in the MVP (minimum viable product) stage. The 12-member team behind the product is in talks with schools across Dubai to set up their primary healthcare facilities on the metaverse.
ShopDoc will collaborate with schools and allow them to run their health centres on the metaverse. The health centres would provide services for mental health, women’s health, and emotional health, one-on-one consultations, and awareness campaigns and programmes.
“Eventually, all the two-dimensional websites that we see are going to be transformed into a three-dimensional website,” says Shihab.
The metaverse platform is at a pre-revenue stage and it would go live in 9-12 months.
Once it is live, ShopDoc would compete with players such as GOQII and MedCare Hospitals and Medical Centers.
Initially, ShopDoc will follow a subscription-based model, wherein schools need to buy an annual membership, like with any other SaaS platform. Once the blockchain-based backend of the platform is ready, schools would have to buy NFT memberships, which would determine the validity, duration, and access to features of the services.
In the coming year, the team of ShopDoc plans to partner with 360 schools and promote preventive healthcare measures to almost five million students and help build healthy habits from an early age.
According to a report by Insights Analytics, the metaverse in the global healthcare market was valued at $5.06 billion last year and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 34.8% between 2022 and 2030.
How it began
The genesis of ShopDoc goes back to 2018 when Shihab was based in Australia. While working with a lens and eyeglass manufacturing company, he got an opportunity to research extensively on the suburbs of Australia.
He found out that the people in the suburbs were visiting clinics twice or thrice a year for eye tests. So, Shihab and his friend decided to build a prototype of a clinic on the mobile phone—"an app that would be like a service book for eye, ear and dental care,” Shihab recalls.
However, Shihab had to move back to Kerala during the pandemic. He decided to continue building the prototype to cater to the people of Kerala. Thus, Mobeed Care was started with its flagship product ShopDoc.
Move to the metaverse
As word about ShopDoc spread among the expats of the Middle East, Shihab saw the potential for this product in the region, so much so that he decided to shelve his expansion plan in India.
“The strong cultural, business and trade relations between the UAE and Kerala created enough opportunities for us to expand business in the region,” explains Shihab.
Apart from the strong cultural connection, the team of ShopDoc was also attracted by the infrastructure in the Middle East to develop a metaverse platform.
Shihab points out that Dubai and the UAE are encouraging markets for metaverse development, with a “comprehensive metaverse strategy”—"something that India needs to work on.”
Shihab reached out to his childhood friend Zulfikar, who has 15 years of experience in the IT industry, to work on developing the metaverse platform. Zulfikar credits the government of the UAE for the support given to metaverse.
Dr Mreushna decided to join the duo after a chance encounter with them at a startup event. She has been instrumental in the development of many healthcare-based startups.
Challenges in the Gulf
Although the Gulf is pushing strongly for metaverse development, Shihab finds the absence of a talent pool a challenge in the region. Regulatory requirements in the region, which vary from country to country, is another challenge, according to him.
Edited by Swetha Kannan