In the digital age, an app a day keeps the doctor close by!

Salmanul Farisy | Updated on March 10, 2018

Digital docs Apps offer round-the-clock medical help Denys Prykhodov/shutterstock.com   -  Denys Prykhodov/shutterstock.com

Technology now provides medicare through mobile phones, but not everyone is ‘appy’

Chandigarh-based Deepak, who works in a BPO, uses a mobile app to consult his doctor. “Due to my hectic schedule, I find it convenient to use app-based platforms because they help me savetime, and expert physicians are available with a click,” he says.

In an era where you can get your food and other necessities using a mobile application, consulting a doctor using one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Apps are offering round-the-clock medical consultation through smartphones. From special services for diabetic patients or the elderly to offering doctors a spam-free and secure environment to communicate with each other, its all app-solutely possible.

Take Doctor Insta, which claims to be India’s first telemedicine platform with constant coverage for patients. “The platform provides smart, proactive, informed second opinions from top specialists in the US, and has 50 doctors on board,” says Amit Munjal, its Founder and Chief Executive. The doctors are selected by an expert panel of medical professionals. And specialists available on this platform include paediatricians, psychologists, nutritionists, gynecologists, even homeopaths.

At Curofy, an app aimed at doctors, medical professionals can provide referrals, share cases, call other doctors without saving numbers and access specific and recent research developments. At CallWithDoctor, patients can talk to a doctor anywhere in the world at a time and from a location of their choice.

Wellthy Therapeutics caters to diabetic patients. A digital therapeutics company, it uses artificial intelligence (AI) and patient-centric designs to help improve patient outcomes for everyone involved in diabetes care. And Dawai Dost is designed to help the elderly. It keeps track of their schedules and reminds them to take their medicines. An important feature here is the voice notification that reminds the user in their native language (Hindi and Tamil currently, with plans for more).

Revenue models vary across apps: some take a consultation fee from patients; others tie-up with pharma companies and corporates to generate income

Either way, the digital pill seems to have its benefits. “Considering the rising gap in healthcare services in the country, telemedicine, which offers remote diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients via videoconferencing or the Internet has the potential to address the widening gap among both the urban and rural population,” says Dr Amarjeet Bhatia, Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Insta.

Pune-based doctor Asim Naik disagrees. “There are lots of health clinics in India and, without properly examining a patient, how can a doctor diagnose a disease?” asks Naik. Bhatia agrees that for chronic diseases, one has to visit the doctor. But general medicine, diet suggestions or mental and sexual health-related conditions can be handled over a video or phone call, he clarifies.

Technology specialists also flag the need for protecting patient data, since a security breach could lead to misuse by health insurance companies or other medically oriented firms. In the US and Europe, there are laws to protect a patient's privacy, says the expert, pointing to the absence of such stringent regulations here. App-founders counter that the patients’ history is secure on their servers, with some even adhering to global healthcare standards to ensure this.

The challenge though is to fine-tune their services and continue to stay relevant to consumers like Deepak.

Published on December 22, 2017

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