A #Tech4refugees innovator’s journey: Ahmad from DoctorX building a medical passport for refugees

Ahmad Bassam is a 26 years electrical engineer working in JREEEF at developing a fair renewable energy access to all Jordan residents. Ahmad has been recently nominated for the 40 under 40 Global peace award by the Global Peace Institute. Here he tells us the story of how he developed Doctor X and how Techfugees supported him on his journey.

Early days: the desire to build an app to support refugees access to health & facilitate doctors-to-patients relationships

“While being a student at the university In 2017 I started a project that targeted refugees healthcare and within a very short period of time, an exceptional team of volunteers rallied around to help.”

“Building solutions that target healthcare is not an easy task as everything related to the medical field is expensive and has a lot of standards/codes. As we found out, in Jordan almost each time a refugee visits a doctor, she/he will be meeting the doctor for the first time which will be very time consuming for the doctor. But most importantly, the doctor can make a wrong decision based on miss-communication or missing medical data from the patient. And that is just the tip of the iceberg as this problem is happening in Jordan where we speak the same language but with a slight accent difference. Can you imagine it for someone who don’t speak the same language, like a Palestinian refugee in France?” continues Ahmad. 

That’s about that same time when Ahmad heard about Techfugees – “I received an email from a program I participated in to build solutions for refugees, and the email had an application form to the Techfugees Global Summit. A month later, they sent me an email saying that our project was shortlisted!!.” he said.

The Techfugees network boost

“At the Techfugees Global Summit, I met exceptional teams of engineers, found old friends and made new ones, it was extraordinary. From the very start, we were awarded 5,000 euros in credit from AWS to boost the work we do to the next level and offered to pitch in front of Mike Butcher and the representatives from the Red Cross . After that exceptional experience as a 4th year engineering student I was introduced to a completely new world of opportunities and positive energy.” shares Ahmad.  

A few weeks later, he quickly got introduced and offered opportunities from Techfugees’ partner Google For Startups and took advantage of them: 

“Google for Startups and Google Cloud teams were essential for the project to succeed as we were provided with account credits to have free users to use the google cloud architecture. Plus, myself was in a 6 month scholarship program to study how Google Cloud applications can help the project grow and it was an exceptional journey.” explains Ahmad. Eventually in 2020 Doctor X was released and certified on the Google Play Store.

Through the journey of developing and pivoting the project, the team of volunteers was very essential to spread the software while it was in the beta phase.

Today, DoctorX aims to bridge the gap between the doctors and the “refugee” patient safely. The approach taken is to store all the medical records of refugee patients in a local & decentralized manner – on their mobile phone as a way to protect the data – and have it translated it into multiple languages where it will be very essential and easily accessible for any doctor appointment. The app currently supports Arabic, English and French, and in all means can best be described as an open source “Multilingual medical passport”. 

The Importance of Open-source  

Ahmad insists that it was a very easy and clear decision in line with Techfugees’ guiding principles : “We believe that enabling other entities that work with refugees’ healthcare to have the possibility to use an already made tool – i.e. DoctorX – for their work can be a key solution for the limited budget and capacities they may have. We are all volunteers in this program and we would highly appreciate volunteers to join our journey.” 

“I also would clearly state that what we aim to do in this project is not for profit and it is open source to be more efficient and accessed by everyone. And we are ready to cooperate and engage with other supporting technical / humanitarian entities interested in the topic we work in.” concludes Ahmad.

The Techfugees Community : a launchpad for Ahmad’s personal & professional projects

Ahmad keeps on, explaining how Techfugees opened doors not only to DoctorX but also to himself: “Techfugees continuous support didn’t only benefited the DoctorX project – which it did a lot – it also opened doors for my personal and professional development. I was able to take part in multiple training programs and scholarships: Founders gym scholarship, Google cloud next 19’ San Francisco convention, Google cloud architecture scholarship, and many many others. A million words of thank you would not help me enough to express the gratitude I have for the Techfugees community and the team behind it. 

Ahmad is also a contributor of Techfugees Data Hub as a volunteer, for which he reports on the impact of COVID-19 on refugees and displaced persons in Jordan. “Through online calls and the encounter with other contributors, I was more aware of what was happening on the international level. I also had the opportunity to organize an online Live Session which was very energetic to discuss how education for refugee youth in Jordan suffered a lot from COVID-19 pandemic.” describes Ahmad.  

Let’s finish on positive words from Ahmad 🙂

“Thank you Techfugees team for the endless support in the past years, while being apart “in location” we were on the same journey together. Through all the experiences with Techfugees or the ones Techfugees had introduced me to, the DoctorX project was to see the light. SHUKRAN TECHFUGEES from the depths of my heart!!”

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