January 2012

Affordable Healthcare for All

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“Even though the planning commission has increased its spending on health from 1.2 percent of GDP to 2.4 percent in the next Five Year Plan, the health sector clearly needs more innovative methods for delivering healthcare at affordable prices. mHealth offers one such method by combining IT and Telecom with credible healthcare delivery. Mediphone “tele triage service” by HealthFore, in partnerhip with Airtel, is one such innovation.”

Any study of the state and reach of healthcare in India, and many developing nations, paints a grim picture. Most statistics prove that despite the phenomenal growth seen in the industry, it remains out of bounds for large  parts of the population. Out of reach mostly because of lack of facilities outside of cities, and even when present, out of reach due to  the inability of patients to pay. HealthFore, a division of Religare technologies, launched its mHealth offering, Mediphone™ in partnership with Airtel in March 2011.

About the Service

Mediphone’s 24X7 voice based tele-triage service, offers Airtel mobile customers the ability to get doctor’s advice over the phone. The solution was created with the objectives of –

  •  Improving access to medical/ health advice,
  •  Facilitating the most appropriate use of medical/ health facilities,
  •  Providing health advice anywhere the mobile can reach, at an affordable price.

In order to avail of the service, an Airtel mobile customer can call 5-44-45 from anywhere in India. The caller will be guided by a short IVR, where a confirmation on the charges will be sought (per call consultancy is priced at an introductory price of ` 15/-). On confirmation the caller is connected to a qualified health professionals (accredited doctors and nurses) who will go through a protocol based symptom taking process; this  is the essential step, since all advice is based on the given symptoms. Once all the symptoms are captured, the transcript is transferred to a doctor, who studies it and formulates the advice, which is then sent to the caller as a SMS along with information on medication, dosage and duration. Callers also have the option of getting the advice on email. All SMS/ emails contain the attending doctor’s name and registration number.

Mediphone – the Journey

The Mediphone™ tele-triage service was conceptualized in early 2010. The team realized early on that for a service like this to be commercially successfully, it not only has to be affordable but also credible and trusted. Service of this nature had to  have a robust application platform that ensures reliability and consistency. HealthFore selected Medibank Health Solutions’ CECC platform for this purpose – a clinical triage solution that has been in use for over 25 years in Australia, NZ and US, both by the government, as well as by private healthcare delivery organizations.

HealthFore then partnered with Airtel, the largest mobile telephony company in India with over 173 million subscribers,
and together devised a phased roadmap for launching Mediphone.

Phase 1 – Proof of Concept: In January 2011, the service was test launched internally for the employee base of Religare and Airtel. The objective was to test the scale and iron out any service/ platform deficiencies.

Phase 2 – Soft Launch: In March 2011 Mediphone was launched in Haryana, to establish the business model and discover the key drivers and demographics for the service.

Phase 3 – Going Public: The public launch of the service in Hindi/English started in August 2011 for 11 Hindi speaking
states in North India.

Future Roadmap

There are many initiatives planned for Mediphone, foremost among them is the addition of more language options in order to get a larger acceptance in India. The team is also working at creating an internet offering of the service and expanding it to offer a video based consult.

About HealthFore

HealthFore is a division of Religare Technologies focused on healthcare with the core purpose of being a provider of choice in delivering integrated healthcare solutions using innovative platforms enabled by ICT. It is uniquely positioned to offer transformational B2B and B2C solutions to both healthcare providers and consumers; solutions built on leading edge technology and backed by significant domain expertise.

HealthFore’s Magnum suite of products provide feature rich HIS and RIS¬PACS solutions, which span the entire clinical, administrative and back office functions of clinics, labs and hospitals. Magnum solutions are currently supporting healthcare providers in 11 countries. HealthFore’s Tele-Health platforms provide consumers in India, round the clock access to  healthcare information, counselling and consulting, through telephony and internet. These technology-enabled platforms aim to address the challenging issues of healthcare awareness, accessibility and affordability that plague the country today.

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