On-call Doctor services have gained popularity in developed markets, due to better technology available for TeleHealth platforms. It allows for a doctor to have a consultation over Video Calling, or VOIP (Voice Over IP – a technology that bypasses traditional telecom copper lines, to connect you over voice or video using the internet).
In India, a doctor is usually not accustomed to getting paid for a phone consultation, and online visits are yet to catch on the fad. That can change very easily for you. Without HIPAA regulations to worry about, you have the ubiquitous Skype, or Viber around to do an online consultation. The only difference is these need to be integrated with your Practice Management System or the EMR, so that you can book virtual appointments just as easily as you would have booked the regular ones, hold your consultation, take down your notes, and bill the patient for the consultation. Clinicea EMR already has integrated Skype and you can in a click, schedule virtual appointments and complete them using Skype.
With patients already on smartphones, you can open up a latent revenue stream, just by changing your mindset.
Today we will cover 3 telehealth providers who have something unique to offer:
The first kid on the block, Practo introduced the Telehealth app, way before COVID hit the world. They introduced an iOS and Android app that the Doctors could use to do video consults with their patients. Both the Patient and the Doctor need to download the Practo app to make the video call i.e. using the browser as a medium to communicate is not an option.
Practo enjoyed the first-mover advantage, and combined with their appointment booking service, saw large-scale downloads of the app in India.
Apollo had built a Telehealth app for use in its own Clinics and Hospitals. However, during COVID I saw several Doctors getting on it, even though they were operating private clinics outside of the Apollo franchise.
Backed by Apollo, the app was assured to meet the secure standards required by Telehealth, and provide a great user experience. Additionally, it had the ability to take in-booking requests and issue e-prescriptions.
While other organizations in this space too, quickly introduced Telehealth apps i.e. Narayana, Fortis to name a few, Apollo stood out for its ease of use and wide-scale rapid adoption by Doctors.
Hitting the iron when it’s hot, is aptly applied here. COVID also saw Apollo beginning to advertise the availability of its app on prime-time media channels. With a captive audience watching from home, access to healthcare digitally – becoming widely accepted, and, a great app to back up the marketing claims – saw Apollo Telehealth app make huge inroads in the market.
The app required downloads as well, at both ends i.e. the Doctor and the Patient.
Another notable entrant was a Singapore – India-based EMR provider, Clinicea. It built an app in response to COVID and combined it with appointment booking, feedback collection and online payments. Seeking to differentiate itself from existing players, it added on features, to complete the cycle of experience for both Doctors and Patients.
The USP for Clinicea was that it did not require any apps to be downloaded. A doctor could start the video call on his browser, and patients could join the call by clicking on the SMS. It was the simplest solution I came across, on the lines of doxy.me.
However, the challenge with browser-based video calls is the widespread use of non-standard Chinese mobile phones that have become ubiquitous in emerging markets. These phones have varying flavours of the browser, instead of the usual Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari or Opera, that we are used to. Such browsers are known for non-conformance with web standards, and running a video call on them is not always successful, resulting in a not-so-great experience for the Doctor and patient.
In response to the above, Clinicea too eventually released an iOS and Android App for video calls, while retaining the option to make browser-to-browser calls.
That’s all for now 🙂