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Online platform for healthcare- need of the hour

Often we get to hear of patients complaining that they were were cheated at diagnostic centers and hospitals and were charged exorbitant price for their treatment. Lack of transparency in healthcare, especially on pricing, makes decision-making difficult for a patient today. Clearly there is a need to bridge this information gap between patient and provider, using a tool that is rapidly redefining the way people think, act and behave.

Most of the service industry have moved online but we cannot expect everything to move online in the healthcare sector. However, there are certain things which can move from offline to online, like for instance- fixing an appointment with a doctor, home care services, knowing the price quote for certain treatment procedure and making deals without going to the hospitals. Many procedures are now packaged and you exactly know how much to pay. Prices varies from hospital to hospital and can vary upto 50% between two hospitals as well. If the consumer does not know the price they cannot make the decision. In our survey we have found about 60% of the patient seek second opinion before they go for a procedure. For any kind of procedure anything above Rs19,000 on an average, they find it difficult to get the finance and they tend to postpone the procedures for various reasons. So many mothers have knee problem and they have to undergo knee replacement which would amount to 1.5-2 lakh but they do not want to trouble their children with financial burden neither the children have the money to spend. But there are instances where at medical colleges it can done at much lesser price than any other private set-up.

With so much of difference in medical pricing it is better the patient knows what is the price for the procedure before hand, it makes decision making on non-emergency packages easier. For such instances, DocTree plays an important role to helps patients find a doctor and get a negotiated and guaranteed price code which is much discounted than a normal price and then make their decisions. Patients make decision based on price, details of hospitals, details of the doctors, the distance and success rate. It is very important to have an online platform where such decision making is involved.

In India 80% of the patient pay out of pocket as the health insurance is yet to take up on a large scale. There is no saving for health. It is not possible to hop from one doctor to another, waiting for doctors will take hours, which leads to postponing of surgeries, and there is also the fear factor and ignorance, so how do you solve all these sitting in one place? Hence at this juncture technology plays a role

Analyzing the various implication we came up with DocTree, an online platform aimed at simplifying the process of accessing healthcare in the country by bringing both healthcare providers and patients on to a common platform and enable information sharing, so that healthcare can truly match the needs of the consumer. It provides relevant information, most importantly on pricing, to patients helping them take more informed medical decision. Simultaneously, it enables doctors to reach out to patients and thereby be more productive in their practice.

Currently over 50,000 people are visiting the DocTree platform, of which over 100 of them are using the platform to go to various hospitals and undergoing treatments and there are more than 1,000 doctors in the platform. On an average, they have about 30 patients seeking quotes for their procedures. Patients are now suggesting their friends and relatives to use the platform. Online platform definitely seems to be growing.

 

The writer is Dr. Sreenivasan Narayana, Founder and CEO, Doctree Health Infoservices Pvt. Ltd.

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