Healthcare major Abbott has unveiled its “neutral” digital initiative that aims to provide services and information to consumers and doctors, bridge communication gaps between the two and eventually get e-pharmacies on board.

Addressing data privacy issues and ethical concerns linked to a healthcare company hosting such an initiative, Jawed Zia, Abbott’s India-head for pharmaceuticals, said at a media interaction that the company’s global digital healthcare platform, ‘a:care’, was neutral and will not be monetised. All information being put out on the site or web-app are being be vetted by a panel of medical experts, he said, adding that there will be an element of “gamefication” as customers are incentiviced and given points or discounts on medicines, diagnostics or other health services. Now, e-pharmacy 1m is on board the digital initiative, he said.

Data protection

Access is free and Abbott will not sell its products through it or have access to the data being generated, said Zia, adding that it will be annonymous and operate within the country’s privacy laws.

The initiative will focus on diabetes, thyroid and osteo-arthritis and the aim is to reach one million patients in five years.

Zai said similar initiatives are under way in the Philippines, Vietnam and Mexico.

“The plan is to also have an educational feature for doctors through access to medical journals,” he said.

Increasing health issues

The initiative seeks to support patients by helping them adhere to their medication schedules, among other things. Zia expected the service to play a role in reducing the burden on the already over-burdened doctor.

Manoj Chaddha, Consultant Endocrinologist at Mumbai’s Hinduja Hospital, pointed out the shortage of doctors and the worrying disease patterns in the country.

“About 13 per cent of adults have diabetes, 12 per cent are pre-diabetic and 8-10 per cent have thyroid issues,” he said.

He added that the challenge was in motivating the patient to take continuous care of their health.

The initiative will help get scientifically validated information, as compared to the misinformation that is freely available online, said Zia.

Medical myths

Ram Chaddha, Consultant Spine Surgeon with Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital, said a quality engagement between doctors and patients could help dispel medical myths.