Globally, technology is making healthcare affordable and accessible. In the next few decades the idea of driving to a doctor’s clinic, waiting and physically meeting the doctor will be obsolete, says Manasije Mishra, Managing Director, Indian Health Organisation & Aetna India, in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).
Q. Why preventive healthcare is important for a country like India?
The modern sedentary lifestyle, ignorance of minor health problems and self-medication are among the reasons for increasing disease burden in India. The small amount of money spent on preventive healthcare indicates that we are more reactive rather than proactive in adopting preventive approach towards health. Lack of access to a good primary healthcare system, increasing healthcare costs and poor doctor to patient ratio are some of the other reasons for low adoption of preventive healthcare in India.
To tackle these challenges, Indian Health Organisation has recently introduced vHealth by Aetna, an end-to-end primary healthcare service. At its heart is our own team of doctors, who operate from a stateof- the-art telemedicine centre. They are supported by 16,500 clinicians in our medical partner network, which includes dentists, diagnostic centres, specialist doctors, medical centers, hospitals and pharmacies. With this ecosystem in place, we organise blood tests and medicine delivery at patients’ home, refer them to appropriate specialists for consultation in their vicinity at a discounted fee.
Q. What are your key solutions and offerings in the preventive healthcare segment?
With vHealth by Aetna, which is an integrated primary care ecosystem, we offer a wide range of solutions that cater to varied healthcare needs of an Indian family. There are various packages we offer.
vHealth by Aetna: An integrated primary care ecosystem that provides unlimited teleconsultation for a family of four members and access to our discount medical partner network for a modest price of Rs 2,400 per year. By using vHealth as their first point of contact for any health concern/query, our members will be able to get appropriate treatment, guidance and motivation to navigate through the complex healthcare system. The service is availed through voice calling by dialing our toll-free number and video consultation through our mobile app vHealth by Aetna.
Freedom Membership: Our preventive package available at Rs 3,650 a year entitles a family of four members for unlimited vHealth teleconsultations, two free annual health check-ups, dental packages and discounts on day-to-day medical expenses including medicines, diagnostic tests and consultations from IHO health partner’s network.
Classic Membership: While the average health expenses of an urban Indian family range between Rs 20,000 and Rs 35,000, our classic consultation membership helps people save up to 50 per cent on their health expenses. This membership, which costs Rs 5,880 per year, entitles a family of four members for unlimited teleconsultations with Swiss telemedicine trained physicians, 10 free consultations with any doctor in top hospitals, two free annual health check-ups and discount card for savings on diagnostic tests, medicine purchases, dental and other minor treatment.
Q. How Indian Health Organisation is contributing in improving healthcare delivery in the country? Who are your important partners?
Our team of doctors has completed over 5,000 consults in three months and we are delighted with the patient feedback. It makes me proud to say that our doctors at vHealth were able to provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment for 70 per cent of the cases which led to avoidance of any further medical support. Several patients commented that we have identified the root cause of their long-standing medical problems. Patients were also delighted that they were able to get the undivided attention of the doctor for over 30 minutes with the help of our handholding and follow ups. Apart from managing acute and chronic patients, we have helped diagnose cases like hemochromatosis (iron overload), gastric cancer, triple vessel disease, nephrology, parkinsonplus and more.
With our focus to make quality healthcare accessible in India, we have tied up with Medgate AG, a Swiss market leader in telemedicine. They have developed the science of remote diagnosis for over 15 years. We use detailed medical and training protocols customised for India. We also use their patient management system.
We recruit well-qualified and experienced doctors from reputed institutes. These doctors undergo four weeks of telemedicine training and get certified to Swiss telemedicine standards by Medgate after an extensive written and practical assessment.
To tackle these challenges, Indian Health Organisation has recently introduced vHealth by Aetna, an endto- end primary healthcare service. At its heart is our own team of doctors, who operate from a st ate-of-the-art telemedicine centre.
Our doctors have the ability to diagnose patients through scientific evidence-based protocols. If a patient suffers chronic headaches it could be due to migraine, tension, eye problems, medication, neurological problems, sleep deficiency, cervical spondylosis, brain tumour, etc. Our clinical protocols help doctors to probe in a systematic way and unravel relevant points. This information along with medical history, photographs and test reports enable us to diagnose or make referrals.
Consistent follow-up with the patient throughout the journey of the disease also helps our doctors assess the response to the treatment and take corrective action if required.
Recording of consultations are reviewed by our Medical Director, scored against a detailed checklist and regular feedback provided.
We also ask patients to rate the consultation as well as the overall service.
Q. How can healthcare be made more affordable for masses?
Globally, technology is making healthcare affordable and accessible. In the next few decades the idea of driving to a doctor’s clinic, waiting and physically meeting the doctor will be obsolete. Technology, including smart phones, remote sensors, connected devices, will provide access to primary care services.
During the soft launch of vHealth, over 70 per cent of the consults to our telemedicine centre did not require a physical follow-up.
Smart prepaid subscription plans can be effectively used to manage costs while ensuring quality care. Our classic consultation membership helps our members save about 50 per cent of their outpatient medical expenses.
Q. What is the current reach of IHO in the country? Apprise us about your focus areas and future plans.
We have our pathology and pharmacy network in 300 plus cities and specialist medical partner network in 38 cities.
India needs a robust primary healthcare system, which families can use as their first point of contact for any health requirement. The system should be able to help people get the right guidance, diagnosis, and treatment. vHealth by Aetna can fulfill this need. We intend to add one million members to our current membership base of half a million. We are confident that with clinical excellence and the widespread partner network, we will be able to achieve this goal.