Swipe to consult a doctor on the go
Healthcare apps are revolutionising the sector, connecting people in remote areas with specialists and making redundant a personal visit to the doctor for every little sneeze. But doctors worry about the absence of guidelines and regulations for their use
Chennai: Mobility in healthcare reduces costs and improves productivity. Healthcare apps have been revolutionising patient-doctor interactions and offering a number of options for access to specialists, treatment and consultation. However, given the positives, the absence of a guideline for virtual consultations in the country casts a number of doubts over its efficacy. Apps like Lybrate, Practo, DocsApp, S10 Health and Mera Doctor are making tracking specialists easier, with advantages such as, access to electronic medical records (EMR), improved data capture, reduced errors, improved quality of interaction with patients and easy access to records by patients. Take the case of S10’s SafeCare experience, which is available on its mobile app, S10 Health on iOS and Google play store platforms and also a web interface, called www.S10Health.com. Sridharan Sivan, founder and CEO S10 Health, says, “The app serves as the perfect healthcare assistant, providing a personalised and convenient way to monitor health at every stage. It helps in scheduling appointments with the SafeCare doctors and health seekers can also access their medical records online, which is stored on cloud,” he says. The app will provide periodical alerts and notifications to health seekers regarding their diet, exercise plans and reminders based on their medication schedule.
Wider access: DocsApp, which was launched in late 2015, has been specifically designed to reach people in smaller towns, people who are too busy to consult doctors in person and those who want privacy in consultations. Satish Kannan, who co-founded the app along with Enbasekar D, says that it’s more difficult finding specialists in smaller towns. “We also believe that 70 per cent of ailments are common illnesses and patients can seek online consultations. Mobile and Internet have had the highest degree of penetration and they can come in handy to bridge the divide in healthcare as well,” he says. Designed around the WhatsApp module, the app offers consultation in the local language with verified and registered practitioners in the field. Satish adds that the tie-up with labs across the country provides patients the advantage of getting samples collected from home and records delivered the next day.
How do they work: With a vast section on frequently asked questions on health issues, Venu Madhav, who used Lybrate, says that it spares the user a visit to the doctor to clarify a small matter. He says, “There are so many questions already available for reference.” Similarly, another user on the comments column of the app online lauds Practo for the choices it offers on the basis of the specialist’s fees. But users point also to the flip side of this service: no response from doctors, being put on to the wrong specialists and invalid numbers.
No guidelines: The advantages of such apps cannot be denied, but as Dr Sunil Shroff, founder trustee, MOHAN Foundation, says, “Technology is ready for us, but are we ready for it. There are no guidelines for virtual consultation.”