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Consultation, just a flick away

Real vs the virtual - Photo: AP  

Imagine you wake up with a headache and a bad throat. Your family doctor is held up with consultations and can only fix an appointment later in the day. In an earlier era, this would have meant rushing to a nearby hospital, getting an appointment with a doctor and heading to a pharmacy to pick up the recommended medicines. That’s all changed with a proliferation of medical apps such as Practo, Iclinqui, CareOnGo that not only provide immediate consolation with specialist doctors, sitting far away from your location and get a copy of prescriptions on mail. With a click, you can get the medicines delivered at your doorstep. The consultation done, all you do is open another app, order the required medicines and upload the emailed prescription. A few hours later, the drugs are delivered to your doorstep. But, are the apps as efficient as meeting a doctor personally? Have they ensured that people get actual medical help instead of getting the wrong advice by just googling their symptoms?

Art consultant Gautami Tiwari had to battle a slew of gastric issues and was dependent on consultations by a doctor at a prestigious hospital in Bengaluru. “The specialist was good, but was often held up and was not available on call. It was after a bad instance of my condition that I decided to give Practo a try. It ensured that I got a doctor from my locality instantly and consult him for any issues. I got his details from the app. I feel medical apps are a boon, especially in case of minor ailments.” Yogesh Agarwal, one of the co-founders of CareOnGo, an app that allows users to buy medicines online, order generics and keep digital health records says, “We strive at allowing users to buy prescribed and OTC (over the counter) medicines and generic brands for affordable solutions and ensure that they do not have to travel to a pharmacy. Technology is improving accessibility of healthcare services to even the most remote regions of the country. With platforms such as these, users can address a plethora of healthcare needs.”

Yogesh points out, “We have a stringent protocol of checking prescriptions, verifying medicines prescribed by the doctor by a licensed pharmacist and ensuring that users are getting authentic drugs for consumption.”

Talking about his journey into the world of medical apps, Mihir Gadani, a chief nutritionist and founder of FitCircle - a chat-based health and fitness app, says, “It aids users to follow a healthy diet and workout regime and allows them to seek advice from experts. The app helps create challenges for workouts and nutrition, and enables users to track their activities through their Smartphones.”

Apps like FitCircle are helpful for time strapped people to chat with experts and get professional fitness advice on the go. We have developed smart chatbots which helps people with personalised advice on nutrition and workouts. Our focus is on preventive advice than curative care.”

Dhruv Suyamprakasam, a mechanical engineer, who is the brains behind iCliniq, an app that lets you connect with a doctor for consultations says, “We worked with more than 3,000 patients and doctors before developing the app. India does face a major shortage of medical practitioners and the challenge was to get them connected to patients from different areas. We want to ensure that a patient be treated anywhere in the world and geography is not a constraint. We have more than 1, 60,000 users on our platforms, served by almost 1,500 doctors. I feel medical apps are the future of providing medical care, especially in rural areas.”

Sameer Kumar, a Noida-based Gynaecologist and a consultant at the Icliniq platform says, “Apps and consultations via video calls etc. provide exposure and ensure that you learn more about areas even outside your field of expertise. I think it is a good idea that is going to be accepted by almost all doctors.”

Does he feel the need for the physical presence of the patient while making a diagnosis? Sameer points out, “I do not have to operate every patient. As long as the reports, ultrasounds and other information needed are uploaded, and I can see them, I do not have to physically examine the patient. In case of a medical emergency, we ask our patients to consult a doctor nearby.”


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 2:14:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Consultation-just-a-flick-away/article14404936.ece

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