CHENNAI: With consecutive lockdowns enforced to curb the spread of the virus and heavy reliance on private and public hospitals to cater to in-patient care, most people have been left without access to doctors for their general, everyday concerns. The ongoing second wave with an alarming surge in the number of cases has only worsened the situation, leaving people scared to even step out of their homes.
Care at your comfort
Here’s where teleconsultations have proven to be effective not just as the need of the hour but also as a safe solution to fill the gaps in healthcare. Among the many players is Ospi Healthcare, a city-based startup offering teleconsultations. Founded by Aditya DL, Ananthnarayanan and Srenik Kumar, the app works with an unwavering vision of ensuring accessible and quality healthcare to everyone without the risk of having to step out and getting exposed to other illnesses.
Elaborating on their idea, Vani Bhoopathy, marketing manager, says, “Teleconsultation has been around for five years now. But, it drastically picked up pace during the lockdown by pushing doctors and patients to come out of their comfort zones. Our priority is preventive healthcare. We believe that keeping comorbidities in check can lessen the exposure o f contracting coronavirus. Besides regular consultation, we offer regular check-ups and follow-ups to monitor the symptoms during home quarantine with accurate and verified advice from doctors. This is much-needed in times of misinformation that is spread through WhatsApp forwards and abundance of information available on social media.”
After a thorough analysis of the prevailing situation and requirements in healthcare for a year, Ospi was launched in January 2021. It offers doctor consultations every day from 8.30 am to 10.30 pm, in all major languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and English. The app has 10-15 inhouse doctors and over 1,000 doctors, offering consultations on shift basis from all parts of the country, on board.
“Once you register and log into the app, you will see doctors of different specialisations available online. You can choose the language and preferred gender of the doctor. You will get a call from them within five minutes after booking an appointment. We’ve been witnessing over 300-400 calls on the app every day. Doctors have also been keen on giving back to the city by collaborating with us. They’ve also said that the app has given them an opportunity to interact with people of different cultural backgrounds and corners of the world,” she explains.
Accessibility to all
Keeping accessibility of healthcare to the urban-rural and rural population at its core, the team has kept the app as userfriendly as possible. Users can switch to their language of preference. “We wanted to make the best use of technology and digital literacy. People in rural areas have a tough time reaching out to doctors in times of emergencies. They spend a bomb on travelling. Likewise, setting up a clinic is also time-consuming and expensive.
These are areas where Ospi helps. We have also noticed that while people in rural north India are less tech-savvy, they are our loyal customers because doctors don’t visit remote places frequently, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and more. To reach a larger crowd, we also have physical touchpoints in these areas,” assures Vani. While the team is working tirelessly to ensure their services are available 24X7 soon, challenges have been inevitable.
“Network is the biggest problem. When video calls don’t work, doctors talk over the phones to ensure they attend to patients. The digital prescriptions they give will have the doctor’s ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) number; so, pharmacists can verify this and then give the medicines. We hope this brings down over-the-counter medication. We have even offered three free consultations for people. So far it’s been through wordof- mouth and referral basis. We’ve received encouraging feedback from people,” she points out. The team hopes to rope in more doctors of diverse specialisations.
“The medical fraterni ty and healthcare system is currently overburdened and is unable to cater to the masses. Even otherwise, we feel the healthcare system is centralised to urban areas. Healthcare is a basic necessity like food, water and shelter. It has to be holistic and democratised. For it to function robustly, we need to ensure all people are accessible to medical services, all the more in case of chronic illnesses and emergencies. We want more people to benefit from the app and that’s our dream,” shares Vani. Ospi healthcare is available on Android and iOS for free.