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StepOne, a collective of 7,000 doctor volunteers, launches free National Covid Telemedicine Helpline

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on August 07, 2020 Published on August 07, 2020

TS Raghavendra Prasad

The facility is now live and available in seven languages including English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu and Punjabi

StepOne, a non-profit volunteer driven collective of 7,000 doctors, has launched a National Covid Telemedicine Helpline, offering 24x7 access to healthcare experts, free of cost.

The helpline, +91-9745697456, which is now live and available in seven languages including English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu and Punjabi, provides Telemedicine services for Covid related cases, mental health and video consultations for non-Covid related cases.

Citizens can call the helpline number anytime from anywhere without any charge and will get a call back from a healthcare expert within an hour to understand the needs of the caller. Callers can share their symptoms based on which, if required, a doctor would call back and guide them on the next steps. To enable this, StepOne has come up with a web-based, Tele-screening Bot that interacts with citizens who wish to share their symptoms and passes on the information to a doctor based on the symptoms. The solution has been carefully designed to work without the need for a smartphone or internet connectivity or for the caller to be literate.

StepOne has also come up with a mental health helpline providing counselling by mental health counsellors/clinical psychologist volunteers. StepOne started off as a Whatsapp group of start-up founders called ‘Founders vs COVID’ on March 16th, with the idea of providing technology solutions to fight the pandemic. Shortly after, the group was renamed ‘Telemed vs COVID’ and is StepOne in its current avatar.

Covid impact

Today, StepOne, is the country’s largest group of volunteer doctors (7,000), technologists (170), mental health counsellors/clinical psychologists (1,000), nurses/paramedics (500) and citizens (1,000) who help facilitate doctors’ work. StepOne State Helplines that first started with Karnataka are now active in 10 states including Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Bihar and Uttarakhand with four more States to go live soon. StepOne has handled 5 million calls to date, conducted 4 lakh plus tele-consultations by volunteer doctors, wherein over 40,000 high risk citizens were identified, 3.2 lakh infections prevented and 25,000 mental health counselling sessions conducted.

“With the launch of this National Helpline, we aspire to reach every nook and corner of the country and extend our support to every one in need” said Raghavendra Prasad TS, founder, StepOne.

“Our volunteer doctors are working round the clock and have been able to identify over 40,000 high-risk Covid-19 suspects and also managed to prevent about 3.2 lakh people from getting infected. We wish to continue our efforts in this direction” he said.

For the next phase of expanding its services, StepOne plans to launch a mobile app for citizens of the country to share their symptoms with a doctor remotely for e-consultation and free of charge. It has launched “Isolation Monitoring” services across four States to monitor citizens who have been recommended quarantine.

“While we started with Covid screening, we are now also into management. Thankfully, we Indians are blessed with immunity – 60 to 70 per cent of people who experience bad flu-like symptoms can recover at home by isolating themselves and taking medicines as advised by our volunteer doctors. We have successfully launched plasma management in Delhi, where we created a Plasma Bank which takes plasma from patient donors who have recovered from the infection,” said Prasad, who wishes to see StepOne become a charitable online hospital that will ensure healthcare access to all regardless of their financial or social status.

Citizens who wish to volunteer with StepOne can reach out to hr@projectstepone.org. Doctors who wish to volunteer may give a missed call to 08047192219.

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Published on August 07, 2020
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