Docs on the net

LOG ON and practice. Anywhere. And when you are not sure of a diagnosis, ask a consultant. Online. Ask another, if you want one more opinion. You don't need to get off your desk at all...

And for the patient, it is three opinions in the place of one. For a fee, of course. So, what is in it for the patient ?

Well, for starters he or she need not travel to the consultant/specialist. Also, the instant enquiries save time.

Enter a doctor-to-doctor service marketing company. That is doctor anywhere.com, an internet portal which is engaged in connecting doctors to specialists...nationwide.

The Pune based company in a presentation in Chennai, met medical practitioners, opened up a new world of convenience and opportunity for both doctors and consultants. ``Being an ISO 9001 certified company, our endeavour has also been to promote the concept and use of tele-medicine all over the country,'' says Mr. Milind Purandare, the firm's Chief Technology Officer.

The service just needs an internet-ready PC and the doctors can start sending cases and images. A scanner/digital camera or web camera is also required to send reports. The tie-up with Intel for web cameras helps quite a bit in adding value to the service, says Milind. Also, the service is tailored to work with poor quality/dial-up internet access. This has been done to suit Indian conditions, he adds. It works like this: doctors can examine their patients and use the DoctorAnywhere.com software to enter clinical data in a structured format, attach files like ECGs, X-rays or CT scans. Doctors can then connect to the internet and upload the case to a `listed' specialist of their choice. The specialist logs on from his/her home or his/her office and responds. Once the referring doctor downloads this expert opinion, the specialist is paid the consultation fee and the referring doctor's account is debited. The `.com' also has a 24-hour call centre to ensure that cases are answered on time.

Now, will docs take the byte ? ``Interesting,'' remarked one after the presentation. But he will wait and watch. The uploading takes time and energy. It has to be done in a format. And the cost overheads. Nobody wanted to jump at the offer, but some said that tele-medicine and related aspects were a reality. And they were just getting to know the technological possibilities...

By R. K. Radhakrishnan