Bharti Airtel Ltd. has launched a medical advisory service for its mobile phone subscribers, as the country’s largest telecom company by users tries to shore up profitability through value-added services.
Bharti Airtel has tied up with Religare Technologies Ltd. to offer the service initially in six of the country’s 22 telecom areas, Nitin Verma, vice president at Religare, said.
Bharti will charge the medical advise phone calls at 15 rupees a minute till Jan. 2, 2012 and at 30 rupees a minute thereafter, apart from another 0.50 rupees fee, a note on its website showed. Subscribers can call the service to talk to accredited doctors and nurses.
Intense competition in India has kept call rates low–at less than a U.S. cent a minute–weighing on the profitability of phone companies such as Bharti Airtel. The company earlier said mobile health services, mobile commerce and mobile advertising will provide additional revenue.
Healthcare advisory services are expected to account for 15%-18% of the total Indian healthcare spending forecast of about $40 billion by 2012, Religare’s Verma said.
Privately held telecom company Aircel Ltd. also provides such services in partnership with Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd.