The Indian government should take steps to spur the growth of telemedicine in the country, according to Healthenablr, Mumbai based data-driven telehealthcare company.
"In India, telemedicine concept is very new. Adoption of telemedicine cannot be compared with popularity of e-commerce platform like Flipkart, Snapdeal. People still prefer face to face interaction with doctors for mainstream healthcare complications like pulmonary diseases, diabetes. The country has seen digital health traffic for alternative medicines like Homoeopathy, Unani medicine, and also for hair loss, skin care, sexual disorders, etc. The core healthcare traffic is essential to boost telemedicine growth. Unless the government involves, the telemedicine segment will not see significant growth. Core healthcare drives huge traffic on telemedicine platform in the US, the UK due to government spending and robust policy framework," said Avishek Mukherjee, co-founder of Healthenablr.
‘Telemedicine can bridge the gap between supply of physicians with demand of patients. It can also be used in places where there is lack of medical expertise.’
"There is lack of ehealth policies and legal framework for telehealth in India. The government spending on healthcare is also very low leaving a vast section of population in lurch. Telehealth is panacea for the such people as they cannot bear the burden of rising healthcare cost," said Mukherjee.
"In country like India where one doctor is available for 1800 people, telemedicine could prove to be a game changer by bridging the gap between supply of physicians with demand of patients. It facilitates patients to reach out doctors or vice versa through mobile and web applications," he said.
"The Modi government had sought proposal from digital health companies like us to digitise healthcare. Unless the government asks doctors to digitize health record of patients, the telemedicine platform is not going to see core healthcare traffic. There is no insurance company for telemedicine. Hence the government involvement is a must to guide doctors to digitise health record. The government needs to ensure doctors compliance to store patients digital record. It should focus on digital health check up of patients and make mandatory payment for doctors. This will really change the game in telehealth segment," he added.
Absence of legal framework is hampering the growth of telehealth. Awareness of patients about telemedicine is low. Increased people awareness coupled with robust policy will spur telehealth growth. Rural India facing acute shortfall of doctors is demand force for telemedicine. We submitted proposal to governments of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to build kiosks to connect doctors with patients and also our platform is open ended to convert it in regional languages. Both the governments have evinced interest in it, said Mukherjee.
"Raising patient is key driver for telemedicine market growth in the country. The telehealth platforms and government have to undertake massive efforts to educate customers about telemedicine. We are spending on customers' education which will in turn increase our traffic. Well communities module, a discussion forum, which we launched three months back has engaged lakhs of patients into telemedicine. Besides this, we offer live chat (patients to doctors), video consultation (doctors to patients) modules through mobile and web applications. Patients use our platform for their day-to-day healthcare needs," he opined.
Our wellness marketplace platform enables patients to choose and buy healthcare packages like diabetes, mental health, weight loss and get discount. Such marketplace has huge potential to drive customer growth on telehealth platform, he concluded.