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Internet Proliferation is Making Access to Healthcare Easier

Satish Kannan, Co-founder and CEO, DocsApp

Feb 13, 2018 13:14

In today's age, it's sometimes easy to forget that the internet is not just for networking and entertainment. It has a purpose and a vast reach; when used correctly, the internet has the potential to educate, transform, and drive change. This includes changes in the field of healthcare as well.

Studies suggest that 70% of primary healthcare concerns can be solved online, without the physical presence of the patient at the doctor's office. This has lead to an influx of healthcare apps and online medical services, making the internet a lifesaver which allows anybody and everybody access to world-class healthcare.

In India, there is no shortage of doctors. However, there is an uneven distribution of doctors throughout the country—the number one issue facing patients and the Indian medical fraternity. 90% of all doctors reside in or near urban areas that host a mere 10% of the country’s populace. 90% of the country’s population that resides in areas classified as tier-3 cities and below. In such areas, healthcare delivery via the internet can be an absolute godsend.

Due to the surging penetration of internet throughout India, even people residing in rural and remote areas are able to use apps like DocsApp to consult specialists located in cities far away. This drastically cuts down on travel expenditure, which often proved to be a hurdle especially for senior citizens on fixed incomes. Sometimes, primary healthcare centres are not equipped well enough to handle rare and complex health concerns. Moreover, chemists in these rural areas do not stock every kind of medicine, like an urban chemist would. Thanks to the internet, people can consult specialists, order medicines, and even book lab tests right from the comfort of their homes.

In the field of medicine, research and development is everything. Each day, new diseases are discovered and existing diseases become increasingly immune to medication. Hence, access to new drugs and treatments on an ongoing basis is the need of the hour. Another way that digitisation is helping is by replacing paper as a means to maintain medical records. Cloud access has made it amazingly easy to record, store and retrieve patient information digitally. Artificial intelligence and big data have become pivotal in disease recognition, management and risk mitigation. Warnings about epidemic outbreaks can be sent out well in advance to ensure the safety of the population. This accumulation of and access to data is not just valuable for patient management, but also to forecast healthcare trends and further aid R&D. Add to all this the benefits of IoT wearables for real-time monitoring of patients and their healthcare needs.

The Government of India, as well as domestic non-profit organisations, has been harnessing the power of the internet to educate people about various diseases, treatments, and prevention methods. It is becoming easier for the government to control disease outbreak and epidemics; medical personnel are stationed well in advance to undertake preventive actions.

All these advancements have led to the empowerment of patients—the notion that quality healthcare can be accessed only by the elite has been shattered. The proliferation of internet has emerged as one of the best ways to ensure healthcare for all, especially in a cast country like India. With the further rise of Digital India and companies like DocsApp, universal healthcare does not look like a far-fetched idea anymore.