Monday, February 3, 2014

Startups Got Talent - Where we are going?

Nothing beats a sincere feedback from one of our users, because a startup is a journey of iterations and lessons where feedback is where the loop closes. Yesterday Hussein Fahmy, a prominent Egyptian technologist who works at IBM in Vienna started "Startups Got Talent" blog, which in Hussein's words aims to highlight Egyptian and Arab startups that are working on tough problems to shed the lights on something that's not very welcomed in our region "Ideas".

Hussein's feedback is very important to us, first it is one of the few feedbacks we get from people who are not related to one of the team members in one way or another, second because it comes from someone who is a technologist at heart, and finally because from what I read it is a very comprehensive review with focus on all parts of the website and areas to improve.

What I liked the most, is the improvements part, Hussein suggested some improvements on the website to make the service more useful to both users and doctors. I will highlight the points here and comment on them, and mention some other feedback points we got from other users that are worth discussing

  • "The way the system makes sure the information is valid. Currently, the doctors send their information and then the website team get in contact with them. This process could be automatized somehow." - As we speak, we are launching the doctor registration module, so now doctors will be able to register themselves without us having to contact them and collect the information. It was a matter of priorities and we decided to release the new version without it but now it is ready. There is no way to automate the verification, but there are some easy ways like for example cross referencing the info with the physical directories (from insurances, and syndicates). The most important info to be verified are the Specialty, Medical Degree, Phone, and Address, without them we can't list the doctor on the website.
  • "The security done on the sign up process ( Passwords rules, validation of emails .. etc.)." - That's a very good point, we have some basic validation on emails but actually majority of our registrations are by Facebook, so if you registered on Facebook with an email then definitely you verified it. We also send you a verification link to verify the ownership of the email. For the password you don't need it when signing with FB. We encrypt all the passwords before adding them to our database to ensure their security, and we might in the future tightens the password rules making users use more complex passwords.
  • "The website functionality itself can be extended to allow direct reservation with the doctors online. The website can then take a commission from the reservation." - We started Ekshef as an online booking service for doctors, then after researching we found a very successful startup in US called ZocDoc which does online booking for doctors. Our first version allowed online booking but we couldn't market the service to doctors plus it didn't appeal to them because of their messy schedules and patients no shows and latency. We decided to take this down in the next release and focus on recommendations. Now one of our competitors is trying to implement the online booking and I personally tried it four times and it failed to book me the appointment because they had to call  the clinic to confirm and most of the time the clinic is closed and there is no assistant to pick up the phone. Online booking is still one of our options but if we ever go to implement it it will have different implementation from ZocDoc and our competitors. 

Screenshots from the second version of the website. Ekshef 2.0
  • "The rating system of the website could allow reviews to be written about their experience with the doctor. While it can be a bit misleading but this can enhance interactivity on the website." - We also had ratings and reviews in the second iteration and we decided to take it down, back then we had very small traffic and the number of doctors was very small (800 compared to 10,000 now). We didn't have a good way to motivate the users to rate and review and the experience was not that good. Yet, this is the most requested feature by users and we will work on releasing it in a different way to solve the reviews problems (Verification of reviews, Spam, Motivation for the users, Moderation and Reporting...etc).
  • "The website could provide a version in English especially for expats who are living in Egypt and are trying to find a doctor in Egypt. It's not an easy task for Egyptians, imagine how simpler it would be for expats to use this tool." -  Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. - Steve Jobs. While I know this feature is very valuable to some users, yet our traffic comes from Google where people search in Arabic for doctors. Also our research confirms that Egyptians don't look for doctors in English, which if we invested a lot of time and money at the moment will not bring that much ROI to us in terms of traffic and reviews. On a side note: The website is developed to allow translation easily and the database contains fields for English fields like English Name, English Address...etc. So when the time is right, we will do it.
There is still much more work to do, but since we already opened the topic, here is my summary of features and our broad vision for Ekshef.
  • Our focus now is on the doctor side, we are rolling out the doctor registration, plus a new service for doctors to get premium profiles for a yearly fee. After this we are working on improving our recommendation engine to include other factors not only favoring such as profile visits, profile completion, location relevance..etc.
  • We are testing a new feature where you can send a doctor's contact details in a SMS to your phone. This will be a pilot and if it succeeds we will roll out the feature. This will help us more in linking the web to mobile plus it will help our recommendation engine knowing the doctors people are looking for.
  • The ratings and reviews are coming back, but promise it will be different this time.
  • Another feature that is requested many times by users is the symptoms checker, many people feel the pain but don't know which specialty to go to. There is a couple of decent Arabic symptoms checkers by Webteb and Altibbi. These are Jordanians Arabic Medical websites and their symptoms checkers are very decent, we can either integrate with one of them or build our own. So far there is no place for this feature in our roadmap but it is worth paying attention to.
  • Many doctors requested a way to keep electronic medical records EMR. While this is a very complicated business and has so many variables, we are considering this and might start with something very basic where doctors can only write few notes and upload a couple of documents. So far this also hasn't been in our roadmap but it is considered for future releases.
  • Mobile apps & sites is a must. That's the most important scenario for an Ekshef user.

I hope it is not long read, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. As you see, we are very open to all feedback and ideas. If you have any questions or requests don't wait to contact us through or send us an email at 

Ekshef Team

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When Egyptians Search for Doctors?

Well, with the launch of the new Ekshef, we wanted to know when exactly Egyptians look for doctors online, so we decided to play with our Google Analytics to try to find out.

Disclaimer: We are not data scientists or statisticians, so if you find the way a bit flawed feel free to help us on how to make it better.

What we did is we pulled traffic data on Ekshef website for 3 months starting from the 25th of August till the 25th of November, the data represents the unique site visitors for each day.

Google Analytics exported the table below with 3 columns (Day Index, Visits, Unique Visitors)

Then using Excel PowerPivot, we summarized the table above by adding the number of unique visitors for each day of the week, to get a somehow aggregated view of each day of the week during the 3 months, we plotted the data on a histogram and we got the chart:

For us, it wasn't very surprising, Egyptians search for a doctor the most on Sundays, then Mondays. What was a bit surprising is the fact that Saturday -the first day of the week for doctors- was the third, and of course no surprise the traffic dropped significantly on Thursday and Friday because there are no clinics available.

We didn't stop there, we wanted to know when during the day Egyptians start searching for doctor information, so we pulled the daily traffic for the same 3 months, but this time the data was split by hour so we can get a view of Ekshef traffic during each hour of the day. I aggregated the numbers again using PowerPivot and plotted the result on the chart below.

I personally didn't have any expectations for this chart because it is the first time I think about it, yet the results make sense to me. The peak is at 3PM which if we relate to the majority of Ekshef's visitors who are between 25 - 30 years old so they fall in the working professionals class, so 3 PM is a logical time to search for doctors to visit after work, or even after the people going with the us to the doctor is free. Yet if we look at the hours, 3, 7, 6, 2, 4, 1, 5PM, which means between 1 - 7PM. Expect many people are searching for doctors and their info. Add this to Saturday, Sunday and Monday from the previous chart. Egyptians search for doctors the most on Sunday, Monday, and Saturday between 1:00PM -7:00PM. Bingo!

The post ends here, but the analysis will stay. If you liked the post please help us by sharing it to your circles, and if you can support us by any suggestions or how to do deeper analysis, don't hesitate to talk to us on We will keep analyzing the data, to understand more about the Egyptian behavior in dealing with health and doctors.

Until next time...
Ekshef Team

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Announcement ...

Dear All,

We are announcing that Mostafa Nageeb, Ekshef's Co-Founder and former CEO, will not be in Ekshef team anymore. Mohamed Hendawy is the current CEO of Ekshef, and can be contacted on .

We at Ekshef thank Mostafa for his dedication and effort during the time he spent at Ekshef, and we wish him a happy life and a successful career.

Ekshef Team

Thursday, March 29, 2012

اكشف يحصل على منحة وزارة الإتصالات

جائنا خبر سعيد!

تم قبول إكشف فى برنامج دعم ريادة الأعمال وتسويق الملكية الفكرية التابع لمركز دعم الإبتكار التكنولوجى وريادة الأعمال (TIEC)

خلال مدة البرنامج وهى عام كامل يبدأ من الأول من مايو 2012 سيحصل فريق اكشف على المميزات التالية:

  • مساحة مجهزة للفريق للعمل بالقرية الذكية.
  • امكانية استخدام أجهزة المركز لتجربة المنتجات الجديدة.
  • خدمات الدعم الفنى والإستشارات.
  • استشارات قانونية ، محاسبية ، وخدمات ادارة الموارد البشرية.

كان هذا الخبر سعيدا جدا للفريق وأحببنا مشاركته معكم ، سنظل دائما نطلعكم على آخر المستجدات عن اكشف وفريق العمل ، إدعو لنا بالتوفيق :-)

Ekshef is incubated

This post is to announce that Ekshef will be incubated in the Entrepreneurship and IP Commercialization's incubation program at TIEC.

The incubation duration is one year starting from May 1st , 2012.

Benefits of the program:

  • An equipped working space Ekshef team in Smart Village.
  • Access to TIEC Lab's test equipment.
  • Access to business and technical consultancy services.
  • Access to legal, accounting and HR services.

So this is a great news for us that we love to share with you! I will always keep you posted with the latest news about Ekshef & our team! Pray for us :-)

Monday, March 19, 2012

الفكرة ، والمشاكل

طلب الصديق العزيز محمود أحمد أن أنشر مدونة الأمس باللغة العربية. بعد نقاش قررت أن أكتبها باللغة العربية حتى يستفيد أكبر قدر من الناس.

هذه المدونة لأهداف تعليمية وليست تسويقية فهى لتعرفك كيف بدأت الفكرة؟ ما هى المشاكل التى نحاول حلها؟ وما هى البدائل المتاحة لأصحاب هذه المشاكل؟ لن أتكلم عن الحل الخاص بنا فهو لم يتم إطلاقه بعد وأفضل الحديث عنه لاحقا بتفاصيل أكثر.


كيف بدأت الفكرة؟

منذ حوالى عام ، أيقظنى والدى من النوم الساعة 11 مساء ، واعطانى هذا الكتاب ، وطلب منى أن أبحث له عن طبيب وأحجز له موعد.


استلمت منه الكتاب وبدأت أبحث عن الأطباء المطابقون للمتطلبات التى حددها والدى (كالدرجة العلمية والمكان). فكرت إن كان هناك شئ ما على الإنترنت قد يسهل عملية البحث ومعرفة أى طبيب نذهب إليه ولكنى لم أجد شئ يوفر لى المعلومات التى ابحث عنها.

إضطررت الإتصال بعدة عيادات قبل أن أجد الطبيب المناسب ، شعرت بالضيق يومها لأنى استهلكت الكثير من الوقت على عملية من الممكن أن تأخذ عدة دقائق فقررت أن أفكر فى حل لذلك.

المستفيدون ومشاكلهم

قررنا أن نبحث أكتر فى المشاكل حيث وجدنا أن هناك ثلاثة أطراف رئيسية فى العملية الصحية فى مصر ، هناك آخرون ولكنى سأركز على أهم ثلاثة من وجهة نظرنا:

  1. الباحث عن طبيب (المريض): وملخص مشاكله فى التالى:
    1. إيجاد الطبيب المناسب: الطرق المتاحة الآن للبحث عن طبيب تتضمن:
      1. التوصيات من الأصدقاء والمعارف.
      2. الدليل الطبى اللذى يزيد عدد صفحاته عن 600 صفحة ولا يميز بين الطبيب الجيد والسئ ولا الطبيب القريب والبعيد.
      3. الإنترنت: هناك الكثيرون يبحثون عن الأطباء على الإنترنت والمفاجئة أنك إذا بحثت من مصر فى جوجل عن كلمة “دكتور” فإن أول نتيجة تظهر لك منتدى سعودى !
    2. البحث عن موعد مناسب والحجز: لتجد موعد مناسسب لجدولك ، عليك أن تتصل بعدة عيادات حتى تجد الطبيب المتاح فى نفس الموعد الذى تريده هذا بالإضافة أنك يجب أن تتصل فى مواعيد معينة وهى المواعيد التى تكون العيادة فيها مفتوحة والمساعد موجود لإستقبال مكالمتك.
    3. الإنتظار: لا أحد يشك أن الإنتظار عند الاطباء من أكبر المشكلات التى تواجهنا
    4. مستوى الخدمة: كثيرا بعد اختيار الطبيب والذهاب اليه نكتشف أن مستوى الخدمة لم يكن كما نرجو ، والطريقة الوحيدة لمعرفة ذلك حاليا هى آراء من حولنا ونعرفهم وذهبو لنفس الطبيب من قبل.

  2. الطبيب: هو مقدم الخدمة ، حيث أننا لدينا فى مصر أكثر من 220000 طبيب منقسمبن على التخصصات المختلفة ، المكان الرئيسى لتقديم خدمات الطبيب هى العيادة الخاصة:
    1. الأطباء دائما يريدون زيادة حجم معاملاتهم ، فهم يحاولون دائما الإعلان عن العيادة ، ويركزون على بناء سمعة طيبة عن الخدمة التى يقدمونها لمرضاهم. الخدمات المتاحة للإعلان لهم حاليا مكلفة جدا ولا توصل المرضى بالدكتور مباشرة ، بالإضافة أنها لا تساعد من لا يعرف الطبيب أن يتعرف عليه من خلال الخدمة أو الإعلان.
    2. الأطباء دائما مشغولون ، وجدولهم متغير بإستمرار فقد يكون هناك حجوزات تم إلغائها أو لم يأت المريض للزيارة ، مما يولد فراغات فى جدول العيادة ، وقد يتغير جدول الطبيب ويقرر عدم الذهاب للعيادة ولكن لا يوجد طريقة مباشرة وسريعة لتعلم الناس بالتغيير فى الجدول

  3. شركة التأمين: هى الوسيط بين الطبيب والمريض ، هى توجه المرضى للأطباء وتدفع الفارق فى المصاريف لهم بعد تقديم الخدمة:
      1. شركات التأمين تصرف الكثير من الأموال على طباعة الكتب التى تحتوى أرقام وتليفونات الأطباء ، وكذلك على مراكز الاتصال الخاصة بخدمة العملاء وتوجيههم للأطباء.
      2. شركات التأمبن تضيع الكثير من الوقت والجهد على متابعة الحجوزات والتدقيق فى الفواتير لمعرفة كم من الأموال يجب أن يدفعوها للطبيب أو المريض.
      3. من أهم العوامل المساعدة لشركة التأمين هو توجيه العميل لأرخص طبيب بأعلى مستوى خدمة لذلك هم يقومون بعمل تقييم داخلى للأطباء من حيث المستوى والسعر حتى يحددو أى الأطباء يوجهون عملائهم إليهم.

كانت هذه مقدمة سريعة عن عالم الصحة فى مصر ، سننشر فى المستقبل مدونات أخرى عن الحل الذى نقدمه لبعض هذه المشاكل ، وكيف بنيناه وطورناه.

فى المرة القادمة سنعرفكم على فريق اكشف ، من هم؟ وما دور كل عضو منهم؟

لا تنسو متابعتنا على فيسبوك و تويتر :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The idea & the problems

This post is for educational purpose it is about How the idea started? What are the problems we are tackling & trying to solve? & What are the current alternatives for different stakeholders? I will not talk about the solution because it is not launched yet, & I prefer talking about it later in more details.

How it started?

It started a year ago, my dad woke me up at 11 PM, he gave me this book, and asked me to find a doctor, & book him an appointment.


I took the book, & started to search for doctors that fits the criteria my dad gave to me. I asked myself if I can do this online & so I started searching but didn’t find anything useful that can tell me which doctor to go to.

I had to call many doctors before I could find the one, it wasn’t a pleasant experience & that’s what turned me on to think about a solution for that.

The Stakeholders & their problems:

We decided to investigate the problems further where we found that there are mainly three stakeholders involved in the healthcare process in Egypt, there are many others but I will highlight the main three from our perspective.

patient for blog post

  1. The person who is looking for a doctor: I can summarize the problems of this person in the following points:
    • Finding a Doctor: People use different ways to search for a doctor including:
      • Recommendations by friends & family.
      • 600+ pages medical directory.
      • Internet: Many people search for doctors online, but surprisingly if you search for a doctor from Egypt, the top result is a Saudi medical forum !
    • Finding the right appointment & booking: To find an appointment that fits in your schedule, you have to call multiple doctors till you find out who is available to examine you, & you have to call when the clinic is open so someone pick up your call.
    • Waiting ! No body doubt about that !
    • Service quality: After you find the doctor and visit him, you might not get the service you are looking for & currently the only way to know that is word of mouth.

      Character -
  2. The Doctor: The doctor is the service provider, there are mainly 220,000+ doctors in Egypt distributed on different specialties, the main selling point for the doctor’s services is the private clinic:
    • Doctors always aim to grow their business, they do that by advertising for their clinics, & building up a good reputation about the service they provide. The current alternatives for advertising are overpriced & doesn’t drive people directly to the doctor’s clinic. It also doesn’t help people get connected directly to the doctor if they don’t know him/her which is essential to grow the business.
    • Doctors also have a very busy/unstable schedule, it changes all the time, patients might book & don’t go to the visit which generates empty slots, the doctor himself might change the schedule but they don’t have an immediate/appropriate way to update people waiting for them.

      Illustration 3
  3. Insurance Company: it’s the middle man between the doctor and the people, they drive people to doctors, & payback for both of them.
    • Insurance Companies spend a lot of money on printing books & call centers that route people to doctors.
    • They waste a lot of time & money on tracking the bookings for tracking the bills and knowing how much they should pay to the doctor or the patient.
    • The ultimate dream for the insurance company if they can send the person to the cheapest doctor with the highest quality, some of them do internal ratings on doctors to be able to classify them.

This was a quick introduction to a small part of the healthcare world, we will publish different posts later about the solution & how we built it?

Stay tuned for the next post, you will be introduced to the Ekshef team ;)

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