Your doctor is just a click away

Wouldn’t you rather have a physician consult you in the comfort of your own home than dragging your sick self or a loved one around the city in search of care?

Published: 07th October 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th October 2017 04:50 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Wouldn’t you rather have a physician consult you in the comfort of your own home than dragging your sick self or a loved one around the city in search of care? Access to good physicians is difficult in suburban areas, but today, thanks to start-ups and their home-based healthcare model, doctors are right at your doorstep. Shifting from the traditional hospital-driven service system, telemedicine apps perform a range of functions—locating a doctor in your vicinity, medicine delivery, providing quick online consultation via chat, audio and video platforms.

A study by audit firm KPMG states that  while India meets the global average in number of physicians, 80 per cent of doctors in the country are concentrated around urban areas. Foreseeing the inadequacies that plague the under-served sector, IIT Madras graduates Satish Kannan and Enbasekar D launched DocsApp—a start-up that commits online specialist consultations within 30 minutes, 24X7.
“It’s estimated that up to 70 per cent of most common health issues can be managed online. The patient doesn’t need to travel to have a medical consultation. Now, with close to 300 million smartphone users, bridging doctor-patient gap has become easier,” says Satish, whose multi-language service app has reached out to 14 lakh patients across the country.

DocsApp ensures 360-degree assistance across verticals such as dermatology, gynaecology, sexology, and psychiatry, where users can avail round-the-clock services for a fee ranging between `99 and `499, depending on the specialty.For BITS Pilani graduates Anurag Prasad, Vaibhav Singh, Chetan Anand, and Shashvat Tripathi, launching VISIT, an on-demand healthcare app that allows users real-time free text-a-doctor service ‘Q’, was a call of duty. When swine flu spread across the remotely ensconed campus in March 2015, students were caught in a predicament—whether to stand in serpentine queues or travel to the metros—in either case, missing classes was not feasible. The four launched the app in January 2016.

“Our free doctor chat service Q creates a level playing field for all, while our specialists’ service acts as a concierge for other offline services like prescription or medicine delivery, diagnostic test booking, OPD appointments,” says Chetan. With an AI-driven healthcare loop assistant in the pipeline, the team plans to push boundaries.  

Dhruv Puryakasam, who founded iCliniq in 2012, believes telemedicine apps have best addressed social stigmas. “Quarter life crisis, stress management during performance appraisal, infertility-related queries are massive consultation areas for us,” says the founder, credited for running India’s first tele-health bot on telegram messaging service.Over 1,300 medical practitioners including doctors, physicians and therapists across 80-plus specialities are registered on this site.

The start-up, which was banned from using WhatsApp as its distribution channel, had an uphill ride figuring out the way forward. Today, talking about the new feather in its cap, Puryakasam says, “Earlier, it used to be a challenge for both patients and doctors to upload or access MRI scans and radiology reports. But with our tele-radiology service, this has been solved to a large extent. Digital medical image tranmission will be a game changer.”

Delhi-based gynaecologist with VISIT, Renu Gupta believes telemedicine apps educate women in the best possible way. “From advice on understanding sexually transmitted diseases and handling unwanted pregnancies to dealing with breast cancer and depression, telemedicine apps guide ignorant and shy women, especially from rural districts, without labelling them,” she says.

What they treat

Healthy initiatives

• A KPMG study says around 80 percent doctors are centred around urban areas, leaving the rural areas under-served
• Telemedicine start-ups offer a host of services to bridge this gap. DocsApp provides round-the-clock services for a fee ranging between `99 and `499; VISIT has launched ‘Q’, a real-time free text-a-doctor service; iCliniq has India’s first tele-health bot on Telegram messaging service
• According to industry body Assocham, the telemedicine sector is expected to double to $32 million (about `210 crore) by 2020


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