Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Startups Use Technology to provide Healthcare in Rural Areas
In a quiet, leafy lane in Koregaon Park, Pune, best known perhaps for its eateries, there's a group of audiologists hard at work in the Quadio Technologies office. One of them is on a Skype call with a middle-aged lady in Dhule, a town 350 km away from Pune, asking her to hold her hand up if she can hear the sounds she plays. She's playing sounds of different frequencies -- conducting a proper hearing exam -- from the call centre attached to the Quadio office. The patient is fitted with a pair ofheadphones and assisted by an attendant who will hand over the final report to her in Dhule. The company has created its own device and an internet-based solution that allows it to conduct the test remotely, taking audiometry to people in smaller towns and villages where this facility is largely lacking.
Neeraj Dotel, CEO, Quadio said: "We currently have seven such clinics in Gujarat and Maharashtra, in towns like Nadiad, Anand and Dhule and have about 100 patients coming in at each centre every month. Whenever we do outreach programmes around these towns, the footfalls often go up to 200 in a day." Dotel is part of an emerging breed of entrepreneurs who are using technology to make better quality healthcare available in rural India. While telemedicine in itself has been around for a while now, as technology evolves, it has become possible to do a lot more remotely.
Most of the times, all that the person in the remote outpost needs is a reasonably good internet connection and a phone or a computer. Very often, a 3G dongle works just fine. After spending 18 months, living in a small town in Bihar, Jagdeep Gambhir saw up close the state of healthcare in rural India.In 2014, he set up Karma Healthcare where a team of doctors in Udaipur is connected to smaller centres across the state.
"The biggest challenge is the behaviour change. People are used to going to untrained, unqualified 'doctors' and being given steroids or injections that are effective immediately. We don't do that," he said. Karma provides access to primary healthcare providers, and in some cases, specialists like pediatricians or gynecologists, and has consulted 38,000 patients so far. Gambhir is clear that to be a sustainable venture, they have to be a for-profit. However, to ensure that people go to them -- and not the local quack -- Karma's services are priced marginally below theirs.
"Technology is an enabler, but the physical connect is equally important. We find that the centres that do the best are the ones that have really good nurses," he said.It helps that the doctors are in the same state and are familiar with the local dialects, which helps put the patients at ease. In extreme cases, the patients can still travel to the doctor in person.Another company that has big plans for this space is Olito, set up earlier this year in Pune by a group of former techies. The first steps are done by establishing an actual clinic in Pune, signing on 100 doctors, and creating a mobile app.
"While patients who come to our clinic here can use the app to contact the doctors for their follow-ups, the next step will be expanding to Ghaziabad and Lucknow," said Rajesh Kumar Singh, CEO, Olito. From these cities, the company will tap into pharmacists or paramedics in smaller towns around them, who can connect patients in their villages to the doctors in Pune through the app.These would be people the locals already trust and would make it easier for Olito to connect with them, he said. Quadio recently opened a new clinic in partnership with a trust near Anand, and Dotel said that he was looking for more such collaborations with NGOs or doctors who already had a ready market for the service.
Source & Credit: http://www.gadgetsnow.com/tech-news/Startups-use-technology-to-remotely-provide-healthcare-in-rural-areas/articleshow/54779625.cms