Indian healthcare providers are looking towards mobile technology to reach out to patients and potentially save lives, reports The Times of India. One of India's leading hospital groups, Apollo Hospitals, which already runs a telemedicine project, is planning to ramp up plans of providing medical services via Bluetooth enabled glucometers or stethoscopes to send results to its doctors.
In recent weeks, a consortium of 46 hospitals, health insurers, and medical service providers under the Health Federation of India, plan to provide standardized healthcare at reasonable costs.
While challenges such as low bandwidth and Internet penetration in rural India remain, the general consensus is that is that there is a huge market of mobile medical services to be provided for India's 900 million mobile users. This is supported by a recent study indicating that 28 percent of people in rural India, and 46 percent of people in urban India, already own smartphones. However, what was alarming in this study was that one third of the people interviewed from a group of approximately 1,900 has not gone for health check up in five years, with 55 percent saying they were open to accessing medical services via mobile phones.
Medical mobile solutions will go hand in hand with India's booming medical tourism industry. Already, people from around the world, and especially neighboring countries such as Pakistan and especially Afghanistan, come to India specifically for medical treatment. In addition to paying for medical services, they all also pump foreign currency into India during their stay in India. Now, the goal is to reach out to those in India who have both the funds and technology to access mobile medical solutions.
Having a simple diagnosis conducted over a mobile phone can mean life or death for many people in India. The reason why I say this is based on what I've seen over the years in New Delhi, and something which I've quite not understand: emergency medical services. With the general congestion of traffic, along with general disregard for rules of the road, I've always wondered how ambulances with their blaring horns and flashing lights are able to either rescue a patient or make it back to the hospital in time. Compared to the West where drivers have to give right of way and yield to emergency vehicles, this typically doesn't exist in India.
Now assume the scenario where someone needs medical attention but isn't bothered to seek medical attention, knowing of both the hospital costs to be incurred, along with having to travel from one end of the city to another. Hence, many Indians do in fact put off medical checkups until absolutely required, which clearly isn't the healthiest choice. With medical mobile solutions, I personally feel people in both rural and urban India will benefit from the services soon to come. Now if only something similar to Obamacare could be launched in India before the 2014 elections. Wishful thinking, and not happening anytime soon.