India has nearly 938,861 registered allopathic doctors or merely seven doctors per 1,000 individuals. The public health framework in the country continues to be unsatisfactory despite multiple government endeavours, such as the National Rural Health Mission and Janani Suraksha Yojana.
As per the latest development in the health sector in India, patients in many towns and cities in India can seek doctors’ advice over smart phones and computers through video links provided by technology start-ups.
So far, about three healthcare start-ups are in discussion with local general physicians, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and travel agents in villages and small towns to set up kiosks, or so-called health ATMs, in their premises, where patients can visit in to consult specialist doctors over video link. The cost of setting up a kiosk can range from Rs.10, 000 to Rs. 2 lakh. The kiosks will also have devices, such as a digital stethoscope and a thermometer. The physician available at the kiosk will do the basic diagnosis.
Furthermore, Angel and seed-funded start-ups Doctor Insta Pvt. Ltd, iCliniq (Orane Healthcare India Pvt. Ltd.) and JustDoc (Godel Technologies Pvt. Ltd.) are intending to launch such services in villages across West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar aiming at villagers and slum-dwellers, according to the officials of these companies. These companies might later expand to the suburbs of New Delhi or slums in Mumbai.
JustDoc is consultation with Sevamob, an NGO that offers tele-health services in rural areas by conducting periodic visits. According to Jugal Anchalia, co-founder of JustDoc, the start-up will integrate its technology on the latter’s platform to facilitate video consultation with senior doctors.
However, lack of specialty doctors, low internet connectivity and weak adoption of electronic payment methods are proving to be a hindrance for the villages from acquiring benefit from the technology.