M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj, Journalist | 1/24/2013 | 19 comments

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj
The mobile phone and Internet are starting to replace the friendly neighborhood general practitioner in India.

People in big cities and smaller towns are turning to online resources, text messaging, email, and the phone for access to expert medical advice, routine check-ups, and to see a specialist. It isn't people looking to find a doctor. Actual medical advice and services are available. Consider some of the following:

MyLabYogi is an online diagnostic service in Mumbai, which allows patients to choose a laboratory of their choice to get their tests done, while samples are collected and results delivered to their doorsteps.

HelpingDoc is an online front office service (for doctors) in New Delhi and the National Capital Region, which provides access to specialists, doctor profiles, and appointments.

HealthcareMagic is an online "Ask the Doctor" e-clinic in Bangalore, which is available 24x7 and provides an instant question-and-answer format to patients.

Alacurity is a healthcare concierge service that communicates with patients through live chat, phone, and email to facilitate end-to-end services like nursing, transport, accommodation, online health records, appointments, preventive checks, and doctor searches.

Diabeto is a remote monitoring Bluetooth-based hardware unit app that can be plugged into your glucometer and any Android device seamlessly. It helps to track and control diabetes by measuring sugar levels, plotting a graph, and emailing it your doctor.

These are just the beginning. In its June 2012 report, "Touching Lives Through Mobile Health: Assessment of the Global Market Opportunity," PwC predicted that the growth of the mHealth market will lead to a revenue opportunity worth US $0.6 billion for India. In other words, the mobile health market opportunity for India will constitute 8 percent of the total Asia-Pacific opportunity by 2017.

According to the press release, Mohammad Chowdhury, Telecoms Industry Leader of PwC India, said:

Our estimates suggest that in spite of the advancements in medical technologies and a general increase in income levels, healthcare continues to pose challenges of affordability, complexity and access. By contrast, mobile access is almost ubiquitous. With the increasing penetration of smart phones, innovative 'connected devices,' and the proliferation of mobile broadband networks and services, the mobile device will play a far greater role in healthcare.

It is in this context that CIOs at healthcare organizations need to evaluate the opportunities and challenges that m-healthcare presents. The lack of doctors, long lines at hospitals and health clinics, the cost of medical care, and the increased penetration of mobile and Internet technologies are obvious drivers of the market for m-health initiatives.

The challenge in India is not merely to deliver the relevant application in a cost-effective manner, it is to spread awareness and acceptance among both patients and doctors. Every healthcare CIO in India should know:

  • Despite the growth, there is a lack of awareness among consumers that their phone can be used as a healthcare aid/tool.
  • There is also resistance among doctors towards remote diagnosis and treatment. Not all electronically transmitted lab reports, X-rays, and ultrasounds lead to the right diagnosis. Sometimes a face-to-face interaction makes a difference, and doctors are concerned about this.
  • CIOs should be on the lookout for an effective delivery model that ensures ease-of-use (and privacy) for the consumer and support infrastructure for healthcare workers where needed.
  • A business model still needs to be worked out. Given the wide range of services and advice, from consultation about serious ailments to general advice against smoking and drinking, when to charge and how much to charge is still very much an issue for both consumers and providers to work out.

Of course, a focus on the customer, just like a focus in healthcare is always on the patient, is essential. Whatever service you choose to deliver, deliver it in the best way possible for the customer. M-health's growth centers around that convenience.

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tekedge   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   2/19/2013 7:20:51 PM
M health in India needs CIO bedside manner
I actually had first hand experience where I could SMS a doctor with a specific problem and got a detailed reply within 24 hrs It was not any organisation or service but a private practitioner I was impressed!
MDMConsult   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   2/4/2013 12:18:56 PM
Re: M-Health's Growth
@Hammad Bridging the healthcare communication through information and mobile is definitely beneficial, results as well. Using information to improve access to healthcare is significant to oening channels of connecting with patients in such facilities. Encouraging users to join and subscribe are important to these areas success.
KeithGrinsted   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   2/4/2013 1:34:43 AM
Re: the new visiting doctor
@rdv Just to follow up on this we had a family lunch on Sunday and I spoke about this with my brother-in-law who is involved with a dentists' membership organisation.  He found the sound of the system very interesting!

I am sending details over to him so he can check this out for UK dentists.
rdv   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   2/4/2013 12:36:51 AM
Re: the new visiting doctor
@Keith Thanks. Hope this system helps.  

To add more to this system, what can be done is after registering an appointment the patient gets a message with all the details.
KeithGrinsted   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   2/3/2013 3:54:57 AM
Re: the new visiting doctor
@rdv thanks for the contact details.  I'll check it out to see what is available in UK. 

I have certainly not come across any similar services here so will ensure that people are fully aware of what is available.

KeithGrinsted   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   2/3/2013 3:49:28 AM
Re: the new visiting doctor
@rdv Hey that looks a great system!  I may even send the link to our local surgery to see if may be of interest to them.

This is the sort of 'cloud' solution that could well provide some of the solutions to the situation we find ourselves in.

I'll certainly bring that to the attention of some of our local medical services.
KeithGrinsted   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   2/3/2013 3:45:56 AM
Re: M-Health's Growth
@Hamood That sounds a good process.  Good to see someone appreciating that not everyone has a smartphone.

Here in UK certainly more elderly  do not have smartphones and many only have mobile phone anyway because their children insist on them being able to make contact in an emergency.

My father went over to mobile and ditched his landline as it worked out cheaper!!
KeithGrinsted   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   2/3/2013 3:42:49 AM
Re: the new visiting doctor
@impactnow '...IVR or an online query system ...' the problem is that in UK our medical services have become so fragmented. Much of the central purchasing has disappeared to the degree that individual doctor surgeries have their own budgetary responsibility.

This makes the purchase of anything non-medical is generally outside their range.

If there were a way of several surgeries collaborating then that would be possible but I don't see it happening in the short-term in the UK.
rdv   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   1/28/2013 12:42:11 PM
Re: the new visiting doctor
@Keith: "we don't even have these services in UK" 

HealthCareMagic portal that Sudha mentioned has a contact detail for UK....

UK:   +44-20-3287-6206.  Dont know if the same portal or service is available in UK...
rdv   M-Health in India Needs a CIO's Bedside Manner   1/28/2013 12:37:21 PM
Re: the new visiting doctor
@Keith: "The online systems in India sound great to me!"

I agree this to some extent... but a lot has to happen to improve considering the vast population India has...

    In small towns of Karnataka state, there is a facility called DocInTown to get an appointment in a particular hospital or Doctor and this immensely helps save time and choose a particular Doctor or hospital.... My friend uses this and is a big Fan of this!!!
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