After an evening with friends, Sapna* and Amit* were heading back home with their three-year-old daughter, Neeti*. Five minutes into the drive, Neeti started complaining of a tummy ache. The doting parents sprung into action immediately. Sapna took out her phone to chat online with a doctor on Practo. That was that. The doctor prescribed a few medicines and Neeti’s tummy ache vanished within half an hour. And therefore, due to online consultation care could be provided at the right time.
This is a real story of just one family that found help at the right time. There are many others who often find themselves in similar situations, without a reliable solution.
At Practo, we try to find health solutions that are convenient, easy to pick up and useful enough to continue. Practo’s online consultation serves to fit all these criteria and more. Till date, we have had numerous users share their heart-warming stories of getting timely help from doctors when they were unable to visit a clinic or a hospital.
Why online consultations?
In our quest for making healthcare simpler, we realised that accessibility wasn’t getting due attention. So, we started talking to doctors from different specialities to devise a viable solution, which would solve for distance and time. After several hundred hours of gathering opinions and ideas, our teams collaborated to create online chat with doctors – a simple feature that comes handy when people are unable to visit a doctor; are pressed for time; or just plain lazy.
Ever since its launch two years ago, the number of doctors on the platform has grown from zero to 14,500+ across 167 specialisations. These numbers speak volumes about its perceived utility in the minds of its happy users, doctors and patients. Having said that, numbers alone don’t make a product successful. For us, touching stories from our users trump metrics numbers any day.
Raj* could get a valuable second opinion from cardiologists for his dad; Swati* could seek help privately from a psychologist who helped her deal with the loss of a family member; and of course Sapna & Amit could consult a paediatrician in the middle of the night when their child was sick. We have had so many users reach out to us with moving stories of doctors who had gone out of their way to help them. We realised that the true potential of online consultation lies in making healthcare more accessible. Today, 20x more patients choose online consultations.
Completing the healthcare loop
After receiving tons of positive feedback on online consultations, we were excited to explore other areas where they would be helpful. So, we conducted another round of intensive research, which revealed that follow-up consultations were struggling against busy lifestyles. Many patients would visit a doctor but delay or completely skip the follow-ups due to time crunch. So, we decided to integrate online chat with in-clinic appointments, not as a replacement, but as a complementary feature — online follow-ups.
What are online follow-ups?
They are a time-efficient alternative to traditional follow-up appointments. And we’re glad to say that both, patients and doctors see great value in it. Just like online consultations, users can participate in follow-ups through chat.
*Mrs. Sunita Vashisht brought her 62-year old mother-in-law for a diabetes-related consultation with *Dr. Mehta. After a thorough checkup, the doctor prescribed a few medicines, and advised a follow-up after 5 days. Five days later, Mrs. Vashisht received an SMS from Dr. Mehta’s clinic, bearing a link to the follow-up chat. Within minutes, Mrs. Vashisht apprised the doctor of her mother-in-law’s progress. Doctor was happy with the recovery and Mrs. Vashisht was pleasantly surprised at how easy this consultation had been.
Stories like these are a testament to the efficacy of convenience. Not only do patients complete their treatments but doctors also are able to track their patients’ health more closely.
In a year, 7000 clinics signed up for online follow-up appointments and covered 1 million+ consultations. We are striving to continue this momentum to bridge the doctor-patient gap and help in extending the continuum of healthcare beyond the clinic walls.
“Quite a helpful feature. Patients also feel that they now have a way to reach out to the doctor even after the appointment.”
– Dr. Adwait Aphale
“Extremely helpful feature. Follow-up keeps patients well-connected with the doctor. It’s a very professional approach because doctor’s personal contact details are not shared.”
– Dr. Bhavesh Acharya
The solution is not a replacement for in-person consultations but they are definitely great alternatives. Ones that would bring about a change in people’s attitude towards their health.Being sick should not be a deterrent. Instead, patients should always have the option to reach out to a doctor in unfavourable situations.
Our objective is to make a difference in people’s lives where taking care of their health should not be a task. We envision a future where patients can talk to a doctor without being bogged down by their daily routine. We believe that our efforts have the potential to change the way everyone views healthcare, because every right step takes mankind towards a healthier future.
To chat online with a doctor and to know more, click here Practo Consult
*Names changed to protect patient confidentiality