âEven though the planning commission has increased its spending on health from 1.2 percent of GDP to 2.4Â percent in the next Five Year Plan, the health sector clearly needs more innovative methods for deliveringÂ healthcare at affordable prices. mHealth offers one such method by combining IT and Telecom with credibleÂ healthcare delivery. Mediphone âtele triage serviceâ by HealthFore, in partnerhip with Airtel, is one suchÂ innovation.â
Any study of the state and reach of healthcare in India,Â and many developing nations, paints a grim picture.Â Most statistics prove that despite the phenomenalÂ growth seen in the industry, it remains out of bounds for large Â parts of the population. Out of reach mostly because of lack ofÂ facilities outside of cities, and even when present, out of reachÂ due to Â the inability of patients to pay.Â HealthFore, a division of Religare technologies, launchedÂ its mHealth offering, Mediphoneâ¢ in partnership with Airtel inÂ March 2011.
About the Service
Mediphoneâs 24X7 voice based tele-triage service, offers AirtelÂ mobile customers the ability to get doctorâs advice over theÂ phone. The solution was created with the objectives of â
- Â Improving access to medical/ health advice,
- Â Facilitating the most appropriate use of medical/ healthÂ facilities,
- Â Providing health advice anywhere the mobile can reach,Â at an affordable price.
In order to avail of the service, an Airtel mobile customer canÂ call 5-44-45 from anywhere in India. The caller will be guidedÂ by a short IVR, where a confirmation on the charges will beÂ sought (per call consultancy is priced at an introductory priceÂ of ` 15/-). On confirmation the caller is connected to a qualifiedÂ health professionals (accredited doctors and nurses) whoÂ will go through a protocol based symptom taking process; this Â is the essential step, since all advice is based on the givenÂ symptoms. Once all the symptoms are captured, the transcriptÂ is transferred to a doctor, who studies it and formulates theÂ advice, which is then sent to the caller as a SMS along withÂ information on medication, dosage and duration. Callers alsoÂ have the option of getting the advice on email. All SMS/ emailsÂ contain the attending doctorâs name and registration number.
Mediphone â the Journey
The Mediphoneâ¢ tele-triage service was conceptualized inÂ early 2010. The team realized early on that for a service like thisÂ to be commercially successfully, it not only has to be affordableÂ but also credible and trusted. Service of this nature had to Â have a robust application platform that ensures reliability andÂ consistency. HealthFore selected Medibank Health SolutionsâÂ CECC platform for this purpose â a clinical triage solution thatÂ has been in use for over 25 years in Australia, NZ and US, bothÂ by the government, as well as by private healthcare deliveryÂ organizations.
HealthFore then partnered with Airtel, the largest mobile telephonyÂ company in India with over 173 million subscribers,
and together devised a phased roadmap for launching Mediphone.
Phase 1 â Proof of Concept: In January 2011, the serviceÂ was test launched internally for the employee base of ReligareÂ and Airtel. The objective was to test the scale and iron out anyÂ service/ platform deficiencies.
Phase 2 â Soft Launch: In March 2011 Mediphone wasÂ launched in Haryana, to establish the business model and discoverÂ the key drivers and demographics for the service.
Phase 3 â Going Public: The public launch of the serviceÂ in Hindi/English started in August 2011 for 11 Hindi speaking
states in North India.
There are many initiatives planned for Mediphone, foremostÂ among them is the addition of more language options in orderÂ to get a larger acceptance in India. The team is also working atÂ creating an internet offering of the service and expanding it toÂ offer a video based consult.
HealthFore is a division of Religare Technologies focused onÂ healthcare with the core purpose of being a provider of choiceÂ in delivering integrated healthcare solutions using innovativeÂ platforms enabled by ICT. It is uniquely positioned to offerÂ transformational B2B and B2C solutions to both healthcareÂ providers and consumers; solutions built on leading edgeÂ technology and backed by significant domain expertise.
HealthForeâs Magnum suite of products provide feature richÂ HIS and RISÂ¬PACS solutions, which span the entire clinical,Â administrative and back office functions of clinics, labs andÂ hospitals. Magnum solutions are currently supporting healthcareÂ providers in 11 countries. HealthForeâs Tele-Health platformsÂ provide consumers in India, round the clock access to Â healthcare information, counselling and consulting, through telephonyÂ and internet. These technology-enabled platforms aimÂ to address the challenging issues of healthcare awareness,Â accessibility and affordability that plague the country today.