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The Rise Of Telemedicine And Its Extent
Nov 2016
Abhishek Dwivedi
Co-founder Of Alternacare, India’s First Holistic Telemedicine Platform

The dean’s daughter couldn’t be taken to the hospital when her water broke that evening. Incessant rains and subsequent flooding had brought the city to a standstill. An enterprising bunch of students from the college carried out the delivery as the dean’s younger doctor daughter guided them on Skype. This was in 2009 in a movie titled, ‘3 Idiots.’ Six to seven years later, online doctor consultation is a more common reality. And it’s not an emergency tool, prompted by a natural calamity, it’s a need of the fast times we live in.

The Extent Of ‘On Call Consultation’
India is mushrooming and funding in this space rapidly. More than a dozen app based start-ups offer online video consultations. While most of these start-ups are eyeing the urban market, there are few also catering to rural India. The limited bandwidth issue across tier two-three towns of India has given not just the flexibility to these start-ups but also forced them to look at it differently.

Most of these products are now shifting from ‘online video consultations’ to ‘on call consultations.’ The term ‘on call’ goes well for the people of rural India as it doesn’t require internet at all, to consult with the expert doctors. The medical prescriptions too are also sent as an SMS which again is independent of the internet.

Another angle to look at the problem is that in the rural areas, there is a big taboo around many diseases related to gynaecology, mental health and sexual disorders. The families themselves are reluctant to take their wards to the respective doctors for the same. Most of this is attributed to society pressure and image consciousness in the families.