It was during my recent trip to Jaipur when someone, without being cynical, told me “3G is just for namesake here; we just know there’s YouTube?” Quite frankly, I was embarrassed. As an online media professional, it was disheartening for me to know the ground reality of internet connectivity in India. Going by statistics, we are doing great and at this pace will achieve the magical 500 million mark in terms of internet subscribers by the year 2017. Out of which, 60 percent will be on either 3G or 4G. Basically, what we are coming across is both sides of the coin, one says there’s plenty of opportunity in the digital space when it comes to healthcare and the other says the opportunities are just in papers. So, are we relying on luck to get the preferred side? That’s the point I am trying to make. The opportunities are there, whether on paper or on ground; it is completely on us how we are leveraging this agile communication media to best of our usage.
Recently, plethora of online appointment booking websites have mushroomed in the healthcare space and one must admit that they are proving quite beneficial both for the end-user as well as for the physician. But the greater question is when will the remote places get to see and use such services? Places where the primary healthcare centers lack both tools and professionals to use them. Can we make the end-user aware of the technology available independently without the backend support of the healthcare delivery centers? The answer is probably NO. The healthcare delivery centers are the first point of contact and that’s the place from where awareness can be driven.
More importantly, the onus of creating such an eco-system where there’s seamless communication between the primary and tertiary care centers, with visible impact on improving patient care, lies with many stakeholders, including medical associations. The industry too can actively participate in such exercises given the fact that they have such an extensive network of representatives. Every pharma/medical equipment company is now talking about Apps and web tools to enable physicians take more informed decisions but the implementation is not that great. Innovation cannot be just bringing out newer tools and technology, it is also about how we are maximizing the usage of existing tools.
The ultimate objective of mobile health is to significantly improve patient care by closing the time gap that currently exists. All it needs is a proper roadmap, a robust implementation strategy and above all a noble intent. Lastly, it is evident that this mobile age is here to last and we need to jump onto this bandwagon else we might be losing out on a number of opportunities. This goes true for all stakeholders in the healthcare sector, whether the individual doctors, hospitals, industry or even Government.
Robin Chatterjee is the Managing Editor of e-Doctor. Prior to this he was involved with some of India’s top media houses, including Network18 and Bloomberg TV India in various editorial positions, with an extensive focus on Healthcare. Robin is known for his deep understanding of the medical/biomedical science and has contributed to various international publications as well.
You can follow him on Twitter here.